UT System receives $2 million grant for innovative education

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

The UT System received a $2 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to implement innovative education opportunities.

This grant will be used to support low-income, first-generation students in college using new learning technology in the classroom.

“The impact that the Gates Foundation is making here in the United States and throughout the world is unparalleled, and to receive a grant from this extraordinary organization is a great honor that comes with great responsibility,” Chancellor William McRaven said in a press release. “To be a truly exceptional system of higher education, we must constantly evolve and find new and better ways to serve all students.”

Steven Mintz, executive director for the UT System’s Institute for Transformational Learning, said the System has worked with the Gates foundation for two years to develop the infrastructure to improve student learning.  With this grant, Mintz said they will start by adding biomedical research fields at UT Rio Grande Valley and will also innovate degree programs in criminal justice, engineering and nursing.

“Our initial program is at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley,” Mintz said. “It very much reflects the emerging demographics of higher education. There is a tremendous need in the Rio Grande Valley to produce talented healthcare professionals and our effort is to develop a program that will bring many more students to success.”

To develop this program, Mintz said the System has worked with UTRGV faculty at the different health institutions to prepare a program to teach the next generation of health professionals. Mintz said this funding will be used to develop new materials for classes.

“One of the things we will be developing is highly interactive courseware, which might be described as multimedia textbooks on steroids,” Mintz said. “These will contain simulations [and] interactives and allow for collaboration and support the online portions of the programs. This will be available to all faculty across the System if they choose to use it.” 

Marni Baker Stein, UT System’s chief innovation officer for the Institute for Transformational Learning, said the funding will benefit all students in the UT System.

“This award is a tribute to the faculty across the UT System who tirelessly and selflessly dedicate themselves to making a UT education more accessible, affordable and successful and ensure that our campuses are national leaders in shaping the future of higher education,” Baker Stein said in a press release.