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OLLU receives $3 million grant to expand graduate programs

Sep 27, 2019

Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) has received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education under a program designed to expand postgraduate opportunities for Hispanic students.

The Post-baccalaureate Opportunities Dedicated to Equity and Retention (PODER) project will improve graduate student facilities, services and offerings at the OLLU campuses in San Antonio, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley (RGV). 

Through five-year grant funding at $600,000 per year, the project will allow OLLU to:

· Offer a Master’s of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in San Antonio and RGV, and provide financial support to students;

· Expand the Master of Science in Psychology in Marriage and Family Therapy to the RGV and develop a Family Therapy Clinic in La Feria;

· Update classrooms on all three campuses to provide high-quality technology for collaboration and shared classes across campuses; and

· Create a graduate student center.    

The grant’s greatest impact may be felt in the Rio Grande Valley, where the average poverty rate of its four counties is more than double that of Texas at 31 percent. 

“There are only 18 licensed marriage and family therapists for every 84,705 people in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Joan Biever, PhD, Associate Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies at OLLU. “Through this program, OLLU-RGV could more than double the number of licensed marriage and family therapists serving families in the RGV.” 

According to the Texas Education Agency, only three percent of teachers in the RGV schools have post-baccalaureate teaching certification. The new Master of Arts in Teaching will strengthen the teacher workforce in the RGV.

“We are excited to provide more post-baccalaureate opportunities for students on all three of our campuses,” said OLLU President Diane Melby, EdD. “Of the 1,730 graduate students enrolled in fall 2018, 45 percent were Latinx and 40 percent were first generation. This grant will enable our students to serve and improve communities facing great need.”