Indiana State University Newsroom

ISU receives $2.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment

September 24, 2020

Indiana State University, which has historically served diverse and economically challenged students, will use a $2.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to address disparities in graduation rates and achievement gaps for underserved populations.

It is an issue across higher education that race, family income, first-generation status, and academic preparedness contribute to gaps in retention and graduation rates between students in those categories and those who are not.

The grant was made through Lilly Endowment’s statewide initiative, “Charting the Future for Indiana’s Colleges and Universities.” All of Indiana’s accredited public and private colleges and universities were invited to consider what it would take to improve their efforts to educate students while examining the long-term financial sustainability of their schools.

“I want to thank Lilly Endowment for its tremendous generosity and for its foresight in choosing to invest in this vital issue,” ISU President Deborah J. Curtis said. “We need to address this challenge to continue being an engine of social mobility in Indiana.”

ISU Provost Mike Licari said he’s grateful that with the grant to ISU, Lilly Endowment chose to provide substantial support for students who face more hurdles before graduation than their peers.

“This is a challenge that has persistently confronted institutions of higher education, including ISU, and I am excited to be able to launch a large-scale effort to help our students earn a degree,” Licari said. “We have defined student success as graduating in four years, so it is imperative that our students, regardless of their backgrounds, walk across the commencement stage in a timely fashion.”

ISU will use the grant to greatly expand an existing and successful program that provides extensive support for freshmen through the University College and the Center for Student Success. The grant will also allow the support to continue past freshman year, with the establishment of a comprehensive, structured, four-year program for ethnic and racial minorities, first-generation students, and low-income students.

“The generosity of the Lilly Endowment makes tested persistence and retention practices accessible to a broader group of Sycamores,” said Linda Maule, Dean of the University College. “That will help Indiana State University ensure more Hoosiers not only leave the institution with a degree in hand, but are fully prepared to enter their profession and fulfill their role as citizens of an interdependent world.”

Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education, noted the challenges universities face have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Higher education leaders recognize that they have to adapt to the changing demographics of undergraduate students, the importance of technology in education and the ever-growing need for students to be career-ready upon graduation,” Maple said. “Leaders here in Indiana are responding to these and other challenges with thoughtful, strategic and collaborative approaches that we believe can improve the financial sustainability of the institutions and the educational experiences of their students.”

Media contacts:

Mark Alesia, Director of University Communication

(O) 812-237-3837

(C) 812-229-8020

Dianne Powell, Associate Director of University Communication

(O) 812-237-8764

(C) 812-878-2131