Connors State College (CSC) was recently awarded a five-year Title III grant totaling $5 million from the U.S. Department of Education. Connors was one of only a few institutions in the U.S. to receive the entire $5 million. Other awarded institutions received less than half of that amount.
“Receiving this grant is likely the most transformative thing to happen to our campus since we opened campuses in Muskogee,” said CSC President Dr. Tim Faltyn.
Connors will use the funds to develop online and hybrid courses in various disciplines, develop comprehensive online support services, and to create a Native American Success and Cultural Center.
“We feel very honored to have received these funds,” said Dr. Ryan Blanton, Associate VP of External Affairs. “We are grateful for the trust the U.S. Department of Education has shown in us and are eager to begin changing the lives of our students for the better.”
CSC is a public, two-year community college located in the heart of Oklahoma’s Native American Nations in Eastern Oklahoma with campuses in Muskogee and Warner, Oklahoma. CSC’s seven-county primary service area, totaling 4,563 square miles, is a predominantly rural area with high poverty rates (19.9% average), low incomes ($18,045 average), and low rates of educational achievement (only 15.6% of adults have a bachelor’s degree). Native Americans make up the largest minority group in the region, 23 percent of the total area population and 31percent of Connors’ student population.
“Improving our distance education offerings will make a huge difference in the lives of those we serve,” said Faltyn. “A large majority of our students drive 60 or more miles, one way, to attend classes. Offering additional online classes will make it more convenient for students to complete their degree.”
Many of Connors’ students have work and family responsibilities. Forty-eight percent work and 53 percent are single parents. The online courses currently offered fill quickly, indicating students’ need for flexible class options.
Connors State College will use the funds to:
• Develop online and hybrid courses in various disciplines. Hybrid courses are those offered in a combination of online and face to face meetings. This will increase curricular offerings for students in need of accessible, flexible course options. The college’s proposal includes comprehensive professional development for faculty, who will develop and pilot 35 courses for online delivery. In addition, six online/hybrid degree programs will be made available.
• Develop comprehensive online support services to boost the success of both online and traditional students. This will eliminate the need for students to come to campus to receive services such as financial aid assistance and advising. Online support services will ensure all CSC students have around-the-clock access to the support they need to be successful.
• Create a Native American Success & Cultural Center to boost Native American student success, including supplemental instruction, academic advising, tutoring, mentoring, and cultural resources. To further facilitate increased access to online courses and services for Native American students, Connors will equip an ITV classroom and computer lab at the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
“We strive every day to make a difference in the lives of our students, faculty, staff and community,” said Faltyn. “The Title III grant helps us achieve this goal.”