The US Department of Education awarded the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg a Supplemental Award to the Title III Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) grant received October 2016. The Supplemental Award, in the amount of $147,656, augments the original $2,037,865 award that is being applied to academic programs, institutional management, and fiscal stability at Pitt-Greensburg.
The newly awarded Supplemental Award will be used to expand Pitt-Greensburg’s programming that focuses on two areas: 1) developing students’ personal financial literacy and 2) developing their ability to use civil and respectful discourse and mutual understanding on contentious but important issues.
The Hempfield Township campus will build on programs already in place to develop students’ financial literacy. The supplemental funding will be used to:
- institute improvements in and increase the number of sections of the Personal Financial Planning course,
- augment the financial literacy content offered in first-year seminars,
- develop a more extensive set of financial literacy modules to be offered as part of an outside-the-classroom program, and
- create and pilot a program of financial literacy seminars that could ultimately be delivered for continuing education credit.
Additionally, Pitt-Greensburg will expand the efforts of its Financial Aid Office by increasing the frequency and expanding the audience for its FAFSA completion and student loan workshops as well as developing and offering a workshop for upper-class students that focuses on post-graduation issues of managing student loan debt and related financial concerns.
“A 2018 survey by Student Loan Hero showed that over half of the respondents who had borrowed money for educational funding didn’t realize that interest was accruing on their unsubsidized loans while they were in school, and 10 percent believed they wouldn’t need to repay loans if they didn’t find a job after graduation,” said Sharon Turchick, assistant professor of management accounting. “We have a great program in place that helps students to enhance their financial literacy. This supplemental award will allow us to make that program available to even more students, which in turn, sets them up for greater success after graduation.”
The second area that will benefit from the supplemental award is the expansion of the campus’ current efforts to prepare students to discuss controversial issues, especially in settings that include individuals with opposing points of view. Pitt-Greensburg seeks to help students learn to practice respectful and civil discourse around topics of disagreement while exposing students to important issues and topics about diversity and inclusion.
Specifically, the funding will be used to
- expand program offerings to provide more instances of viewpoint diversity across a greater variety of topics,
- train faculty and staff on methods for promoting mutual understanding across differences, and
- provide guided practice opportunities for students to develop their skills for respectful engagement.
The expanded program offerings will complement the current Academic Village programming and the Campus Alliance for Free Thought weekly discussions by providing more instances of diversity across a greater variety of topics. Ultimately, the goal is to provide a “safe space” for students to learn and talk about new and different ideas to help them learn and practice civil discourse, even with those with whom they disagree, and help them to understand that disagreement can be constructive.
“We recognize that conversations about opposing viewpoints have become more difficult in every area of society,” said Sheila Confer, EdD, director of the Academic Village. “One of the goals of a liberal arts education is to provide our students with critical thinking, reasoning, and discourse skills that can serve them in every area of their lives. This award will allow us to further expand our programming and allow more students to have this experience.”
Founded in 1963, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is a publicly assisted, four-year, liberal arts college in southwestern Pennsylvania. Pitt-Greensburg offers 29 baccalaureate degree programs, including new majors in Nursing, Healthcare Management, and Education, as well as 24 minors and four certificate programs. With nearly 1,500 students, more than 10,000 alumni, and faculty and staff numbering 260, Pitt-Greensburg provides a vibrant, diverse community that is a dynamic model of a 21st century liberal arts education. As part of the University of Pittsburgh system, Pitt-Greensburg offers the resources of a world-renowned university combined with the individualized and immersive experiences of a small liberal arts college. Creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit permeate the campus and extend into its many collaborative projects with the Westmoreland County community. Nestled in Pennsylvania’s beautiful Laurel Highlands, the campus is less than an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh.