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Team Assembled for $1.9 Million Student Retention Grant Program

Initiative Designed to Retain More Students through Graduation The team members are in place and Wilmington College’s student retention initiative funded by a $1.9 million Title III grant is off and running. (PICTURED) The Title III Grant team is pictured, from the left: BACK ROW — Dr. Katie Bontrager, budget and data director; Tara Rhinehart, program coordinator; Jena Frommeyer and Tammy Fraser, student success coaches; FRONT ROW — Whitney Kessinger, research analyst; and Dr. Mei Mei Burr, program director. Wilmington College received a $1.9 million grant earlier this year to provide support for at-risk students with an emphasis placed upon retaining them through graduation. The U.S. Department of Education approved the Title III grant, which will be spread over the next five years to leverage data analytics in the design and implementation of more effective retention programming. Title III is a federal program of the Department of Education designed to help institutions of higher education serve low-income students more effectively. Dr. Erika Goodwin, vice president for Academic Affairs, said the implementation of the grant is a collaborative effort between the Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Information Technology areas. “These funds will allow us to capitalize on technology and data in developing effective retention programming.” Goodwin said, noting they have established the ambitious goal of increasing student retention by 3 percent in five years. “We are especially excited about broadening our current retention efforts to include more mental health resources.” The team is comprised of Dr. Mei Mei Burr, program director; Tara Rhinehart, program coordinator; Dr. Katie Bontrager, budget and data director; Whitney Kessinger, research analyst; and Tammy Fraser and Jena Frommeyer, student success coaches. Burr, WC’s associate vice president for Academic Affairs, has experience as a faculty member in psychology and director of first year programs. She is charged with monitoring student retention and overseeing student advising and student support services. Rhinehart, who holds a master’s degree in public administration, has experience in assessment, testing, teaching, project management and research on issues related to retention and graduation. Bontrager, the assistant vice president for Academic Affairs and Institutional Effectiveness, has more than 25 years of experience in enrollment management, higher education sales, marketing and institutional systems, and data management and reporting. Kessinger comes to the College from Northern Kentucky University, where she served as assistant director of federal compliance for enrollment management. She also has experience as a research analyst. Fraser has been the College’s director of Career Services since 2013. She has extensive experience in career development and holds a master’s degree in community psychology and counseling. Frommeyer, who has been WC’s residence director and housing office manager since 2012, has experience as a student resource specialist, in addition to teaching and advising students through AmericCorps.