WVU at Parkersburg Foundation
$111,000 Benedum Grant to Help WVU Parkersburg Students Succeed
CONTACT: Beth McNally, Executive Director, WVU at Parkersburg Foundation, 304-424-8340
West Virginia University at Parkersburg is the recipient of a $111,000 three-year grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to support an innovative program that helps non-traditional, adult students make a successful transition to college.
Gear Up for Success – GUS – was developed two years ago at WVU Parkersburg’s Jackson County Center. The program invites adult students to get a jumpstart on their college career by enrolling in full-time developmental classes in the summer.
During an eight-week session, students who need to brush-up on their basic skills have opportunities to take refresher classes in language, math and critical thinking skills. A team of dedicated GUS faculty and staff direct the students’ activities, and computers help the students measure and track their progress.
"Many adults hesitate to enroll in college because they think they will be the oldest ones in the class," says Pam Braden, director of JCC and program founder.
"GUS was designed to be very ‘user-friendly’ to adult students," she added. "Whether this is their first time in college, or they are returning after fifteen years away, GUS is an encouraging and non-threatening way to begin. Team building is an important part of the program. We’ve learned that students benefit tremendously from peer support groups they form during the GUS program."
In its first two years of operation, GUS had a surprising 89% success rate, which was measured by the number of students who enrolled in and completed a fall and spring semester after their summer GUS program.
Benedum’s grant will help the GUS program increase the number of students served, and will enable it to expand to the Parkersburg campus. Janet Ogilvie, director of counseling, has been teaching a shorter version of GUS in her class for single parents during the fall and spring semesters in Parkersburg. She looks forward to bringing the full GUS program to the Parkersburg campus.
"When adults have the opportunity for a full-time immersion into college with the ability to concentrate on improving their basic skills, their eventual success with the college curriculum is much stronger," she said. "GUS also gives students the time to work out childcare details, help in finding financial aid, and ideas for time management problems."
College officials are pleased with Benedum’s support of the project.
"We knew this was a good idea. We knew it worked, and wanted to be able to offer it to more students," said Dr. Joe Badgley, dean of academic affairs at WVU Parkersburg. "Benedum’s grant will help us considerably with the expansion. We’re very grateful, and certain that Benedum will be very satisfied with the results."
The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation was established in 1944 by Michael and Sarah Benedum, natives of West Virginia, as a memorial to their only child, Claude Worthington, who died in 1918 at the age of 20. The Foundation is a regional foundation focusing primarily on West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania. Since its inception, the Foundation has made more than 6,300 grants totaling over $255,000,000.
Students who want to know more about GUS are encouraged to contact Christine Post at the Jackson County Center, or Dean of Students Dotty Muir at the Parkersburg campus. Both offices can be reached through the college’s main switchboard at 424-8000. Summer classes begin June 2.