More than 100 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) will receive a total of $107.4 million to strengthen and expand educational opportunities for Latino students, the U.S. Department of Education has announced. Among those receiving funds is Seward County Community College/Area Technical School in Liberal, Kansas. The HSI program provides grants to make colleges more attainable for Hispanic students and allows institutions to enhance their academic offerings, program quality and institutional stability.
SCCC/ATS will receive $4.163 million to enhance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) components. The five-year grant includes $790,151 in year one, $842,160 in year two, $850,576 in year three, $828,899 in year four and $851,951 in year five. A Hispanic-Serving Institution is defined as an eligible institution of higher education that has at least 25 percent Hispanic full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate enrollment students at the end of the award year immediately preceding the date of the application. SCCC/ATS has 31 percent Hispanic enrollment. "This certainly is an exciting time for the college to receive the grant, said Dr. Duane Dunn, SCCC/ATS president. "We are the only college in Kansas to receive the funds as most of the grants were awarded to colleges in California, Texas, and New Mexico. This will provide our college to better serve the agriculture industry of our region while also enabling students to gain a step toward bachelor’s degree programs related to science and engineering.” SCCC/ATS will develop two new STEM-related instructional programs, Sustainable Agriculture Resources and Food Science and Safety. Both target the expansion of programming related to agriculture. SCCC/ATS will also upgrade and update its existing program in Engineering. Those include the addition of a new math lab and improvements to the physics and microbiology labs. Sustainable Ag Resources requires both indoor and outdoor facilities, which will require a 4,200 square foot expansion of the Agricultural Building and will include two greenhouses, a classroom, a food science lab, renovation of a classroom for distance learning and two four-acre plant-growing areas. Dr. Suzanne Campbell will be the STEM project director while maintaining a portion of her duties as coordinator/instructor of the Medical Laboratory Technician program. In addition to hiring instructional staff for each program, the college will hire a transfer coordinator, a project secretary, a bilingual STEM assistance specialist, distance learning support technicians and lab monitors and instructors. The five-year grant is designed to provide connections between SCCC/ATS and university science and engineering programs. A unique feature of this particular grant is that SCCC/ATS students will be provided opportunities to work directly with faculty from Kansas State University and Ft. Hays State University in undergraduate research studies. Those research programs include programs associated with plant growth, soil conservation, water quality, and food safety. Additionally, the college will establish summer academies for area high school students who are interested in STEM careers including agriculture science, engineering, math, and physics. Last year SCCC/ATS was awarded a $3.25 million dollar U.S. Department of Education grant, Dunn said. "We recognize that the agriculture and energy industries are the primary economic aspects of our region. The new grant along with the federal grant we received last year to implement energy-related programs in corrosion technology and process technology will help serve those key factors in our economy.”