The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith will soon provide even more academic support for its students thanks to a $2.25 million, five-year grant from the Department of Education.


The award, part of the highly competitive Title III Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP), will allow UAFS to move forward with the creation of a dedicated campus writing center, provide accelerated literacy programming through a Summer Bridge Program, and support faculty development in academic literacy teaching strategies.


The SIP grant is the largest to be awarded to UAFS in recent years. Chancellor Terisa Riley said the impact of the $2.25 million award will be felt throughout campus.


“Literacy and writing are the foundation upon which a successful collegiate career is built,” said Riley. “This funding allows us to put programs into place that will benefit all students, regardless of their major. I applaud the hard work of our faculty and all those who made this award possible.”


In addition to the creation of an accelerated literacy program and support for faculty development, the award will allow the university to renovate a space on campus to house a dedicated writing center. The center will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to help students on campus and online.


Grant co-authors Cammie Sublette, professor and head of the English department, and Monica Luebke, associate professor of English, said the new facility will be a game changer.


“It will be transformative in terms of what we provide for our students,” said Sublette. “Having a centralized writing center will give us the capacity to offer students more practice, more tutoring, more exposure to the rigors of academic writing. In turn they’ll be able to move through their courses more rapidly, graduate on time, and with the writing and literacy they need to be successful in today’s world.”


Luebke credits the support of her fellow faculty as well as administration with helping UAFS receive the SIP grant.


“Our names may be listed as authors, but this was truly a campus-wide effort,” said Luebke. “We want to thank Chancellor Riley, Provost [Georgia] Hale, Dean [Paul] Hankins, and the dozens of other faculty and staff who helped us craft the application and who will continue to help us coordinate the grant over the coming years. It’s a pleasure to work on a campus so focused on the success of its students.”


Renovation for the writing center will begin during the winter break. The new writing center is expected to be available for students beginning in the fall of 2020.