Hardin-Simmons Awarded $2.1 Million DOE Grant

October 18, 2023 Mary Burke

The Department of Education (DOE) has awarded Hardin-Simmons University (HSU) a five-year development grant equaling $2.1 million, the first-ever Department of Education grant HSU has received. The funds are from the competitive Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) authorized under Title III and will directly impact student and post-graduation success.

Dr. Tony Morrow, Director of Student Achievement, Dr. Vicki House, Associate Vice President for Advancement, and Mr. Mike Monhollon, Associate Provost and Chief Data Officer, produced a compelling and detailed plan that was submitted and selected by the DOE.

“This grant will fund two big initiatives to drive students’ academic success at Hardin-Simmons,” said Mr. Monhollon, “allowing our professors to maintain the rigor in their courses and to deliver the excellence in education that is the university’s promise.”

It was determined that 34% of incoming freshmen are academically underprepared. As a result, academically underprepared first-time freshmen students have lower average first-semester GPAs, fall-to-spring persistence, fall-to-fall retention, and graduation rates than academically prepared students. To improve all students’ academic success, retention, and degree completion, HSU has developed the Forward Together Program, which the DOE grant will help support.

The Forward Together Program has two components: 1.) Strategic Learning Initiative (SLI) and 2.) Guided Pathways (GP).

The SLI is a semester-long course dedicated to implementing the skills and habits of academic success. Students who enroll in SLI will learn the fundamental skills to adjust and succeed at university-level learning and beyond. Dr. House explained, “The learning delays brought on by COVID-19 have given us students who are less prepared for college than ever before. The skills developed in the SLI courses will prepare students for the demands of college work and give them the skills to persist through graduation.” The positive habits brought on by the SLI course, like active learning, time management, and communication, will be applicable throughout college and into the workforce.

GP, the second component of The Forward Together Program, is a nationally recognized strategy for improving four-year graduation rates. It includes tailored course schedules and program mapping so students maintain “program velocity” (earn 30 credits annually for a 120-credit degree program, with graduation in 4 years). GP ensures student courses are correctly scheduled while adjusting for students who switch majors by minimizing the excess credits amassed and not applicable to their new degree plan.

Funds from the SIP grant will go toward hiring faculty and staff to oversee the SLI and GP programs and construction costs to create designated spaces for SLI and GP meetings and conversations.

Hardin-Simmons already provides multiple resources and academic support, like free tutoring, workshops, and peer mentors, to empower its students. The impact of the Strategic Learning Initiative and Guided Pathways programs will continue to bolster HSU as a community dedicated to providing excellence in education enlightened by Christian faith and values.


About Hardin-Simmons University

Hardin-Simmons University (HSU) is a Christian university rated among the top private colleges in Texas. From its Cowboy Spirit to its commitment to excellence, HSU offers students the chance to discover their God-given potential in an atmosphere that feels like home. By offering programs that match industry needs, students graduate equipped to break down barriers. With over 50 academic programs, more than 40 organizations, 18 varsity sports, and 18 intramural and club sports, HSU has a place for everyone to be a Cowboy! #WEARECOWBOYS