by NICOLE TRUGILLO/Editor-in-Chief
South Plains College is planning to expand learning opportunities after recently being awarded a five-year, $2.6 million federal grant.
SPC is receiving the federal grant from the Office of Postsecondary Education’s Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions Programs also known as Title V.
“The grant is called ‘Fostering the Access and Success of Hispanic/Low Income Technical Students,’” says Dr. Gail Malone, director of the Teaching and Learning Center in a recent interview with the Plainsman Press. “We want to improve new student learning outcomes and develop two new program options for students.”
In order for SPC to be eligible to receive the grant, the college needs to have at least 25 percent enrolled Hispanic students, and 50 percent of those students have to have a low income. SPC has a Hispanic enrollment of 40 percent.
“We’ve had two individual grants before and a corporative grant,” says Dr. Malone. “Those grants have really helped us reach out and recruit more Hispanic students, and they’ve been very successful here. They are very important for our economy and our future.”
The grant will allow SPC to broaden its diesel service technology program, along with developing a new associate degree program in culinary arts.
“The diesel technology is for the people who want to work for the construction or the oil industry with really heavy machinery,” Dr. Malone says. “They will be learning how to service and repair the big pieces of machinery. The second program SPC is going to develop is the culinary arts. Our program can be a bridge for students who are coming from high school and want to go into a university, or if they want to get their associate degree and concentrate in culinary arts.”
SPC will begin with expanding the diesel service technology program specializing in heavy equipment.
“This year, we’re going to start the diesel technology heaving equipment,” Dr. Malone explains. “We’re going to develop the course and hire the faculty, identify the students who want to be in that program and then piloting new courses and following the success of students and redesigning the courses. Then we’ll be expanding it in the Plainview campus. So, it will be available in the Plainview area.”
The culinary arts program will be developed in year two of the grant. The program was decided on because there were surveys taken by students based on what they were interested in, and the community had a high demand for employment involving culinary arts.
“When a student finishes these courses, there will be more employment opportunities for students in this area,” says Dr. Malone. “We are doing these programs based on what the students and the community wants.”
It will take SPC five years to develop the two new programs. In addition, SPC is helping the faculty re-identify courses that are high-risk courses for students who are not doing well in their classes.
“We’re going to redesign the courses and see what we can do to make students more successful,” explains Dr. Malone. “and we’re also going to provide professional development for the faculty so they know they have a better understanding of their students and have a better way to teach their students to be affective. We’re going to expand tutoring specifically in the technical programs. Right now, we have math, general studies, accounting, and music theory. We’re going to target industrial technology, health occupations, professional services, and creative arts.”
SPC is going to become a member of an organization called EdReady. The organization is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“It will give every student at South Plains College access to things that are somewhat like Kahn Academy, but only a lot of it is developed for college students,” Dr. Malone explains. “We want these programs to be very good for our students and our faculty so the students can achieve even more, and if they’re having trouble in those courses, we can support them.”