OCT. 21, 2016

JAMESTOWN, N.C. — Guilford Technical Community College has been awarded a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to enhance student learning, retention and faculty development.

The Title III grant will be disbursed over a five-year period and will be used to create systems and processes to promote consistent and expanded learning support services college-wide. In addition, the grant will support the expansion of the Center for Academic Engagement created in 2014 to house the college’s learning support services, which include tutoring, supplemental instruction and courses to help students develop skills in a variety of areas such as studying, time management and test-taking.

“We’re excited about the opportunities to expand our academic support services for our students and provide focused professional development opportunities for our faculty,” said Beth Pitonzo, vice president of instruction at GTCC. “Creating an environment that supports student retention is really important. We know that if a student successfully achieves 12 credit hours in the first semester, they are more likely to complete their degree or certificate. So it’s critical to intervene early before a student loses motivation. This grant will allow the college to do just that by creating effective alert mechanisms, stronger academic support programs and innovative classroom strategies that promote student completion.”

As part of the grant project, GTCC will also expand the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), which provides professional development for faculty in order to equip them with the skills to help students have a successful college experience and make it to the finish line. The CTL will serve as the center for faculty development for more than 357 full-time instructors and 1,211 part-time instructors for curriculum courses across all campuses and offer training and workshops in classroom instruction and coaching of students, among other topics.

To help students overcome the challenges that often derail their educational plans, the CAE will partner with the Student Success Center, the college’s professional advising center, to implement an intensive intervention and coaching program. The college will hire three full-time intervention specialists to respond to early alerts issued by faculty and to coach students placed on academic warning, supervision or probation. Given the significant financial needs found in the GTCC student population, students placed on academic warning, supervision, or probation are at great risk of not completing their educational goal as their financial aid is jeopardized. These interventions will help students overcome both academic and “real-life” barriers, such as financial hardships and personal crises, and identify strategies for that support success.

Through projects funded by the grant, students will benefit from more proactive interventions to help them succeed academically. They will also have access to highly-trained tutors and learning support coordinators as the college adopts nationally-recognized College Reading & Learning Association tutoring standards. Additionally, students will have access to more learning support resources, including online modules and an expanded selection of workshops.

Students will also benefit from taking classes with faculty who participate in professional development through the CTL. With grant funds, the CTL will develop a comprehensive orientation process for both full-time and part-time faculty, create a faculty mentoring program, and provide trainings and workshops on ways to improve student learning through innovative, effective teaching practices. The grant will also be used to enhance the college’s pioneering Faculty in Training program, which provides coaching and year-long training for a select group of new part-time faculty members.

The grant complements the college’s ongoing student success and retention initiatives, including Completion by Design, which aims to increase completion and graduation rates for young, low-income students, and Titan Link, which connects students to community organizations that provide a wide range of services, including financial literacy education, credit counseling, budgeting and debt reduction education.

Guilford Technical Community College is the fourth largest of 58 institutions in the NC Community College System. GTCC serves more than 40,000 students annually from five campuses and a Small Business Center. Learn more at


— Carla Kucinski