By MARY BURGER – STAFF WRITER
Beginning in the fall semester of 2015, Centre College will welcome the first ten students of a new program known as the Grissom Scholars.
“The Grissom Scholars Program is an exciting new scholarship program that Marlene and J. David Grissom have established at Centre,” Vice President for College Relations Dr. Richard Trollinger said. “It is intended to serve the needs of high achieving, first-generation college students.”
Preference will be given to those who demonstrate financial needs. The program will grow annually with an additional ten scholars added each year, with a total of forty students on campus after four years.
As long as the students remain in good academic standing and are good campus citizens, participants in this program receive full tuition.
They are also eligible for $5,000 towards enrichment activities, such as study abroad, research, and academic internships. If need be, the program will provide additional aid to help cover room and board, books and tuition.
Scholars will be able to participate in a mentorship program. Similar to other programs such as Posse and the Bonner Program, the Grissom Scholars will participate in a pre-orientation week prior to first-year orientation. The unique orientation session will focus on team-building and personal growth.
Admissions is looking for applicants who demonstrate proven academic success, high moral character, exceptional potential for leadership, and Significant past involvement in extracurricular activities, such as the arts, athletics, community life, service, or work.
Applicants will be the first in their immediate family to attend college (with the exclusion of siblings). Those whose parents or guardians attended college but did not graduate are still eligible to apply.
The College is antipaticing a substantial amount of applications during the program’s first year, so competition between applicants will be very tight.
This definition of a first generation student the College will use is based off of the definition provided by the Common Application.
A little over ten percent of Centre’s current student body are first generation college students. Some of these students will help with aspects of the Grissom Scholar’s program through things like the mentorship programs.
The College reached out to the faculty and staff to help with things such as an Advisory Board for the program. 86 members of Centre’s faculty and staff (of which 49 are first-generation students themselves) requested more information on how to help with the program and get involved in any sort of role.
Director of the Grissom Scholars Program and Student Leadership Sarah Scott Hall, along with others, will spend the next few months researching the best ways to make this program successful at helping students.
“It’s such a rich opportunity for students to not only have financial assistance with college, but to have a cohort of students to get to know really well and rely on for support. It seems to be a great model. I wish every student could have the same experience,” Hall said.
Dean of the College and Vice President of Academic Affairs Stephanie Fabritius shared similar enthusiasm.
“I am very excited about this opportunity to bring in and retain cohorts of high-achieving, high-need, first-generation college students to our campus,” Fabritius said. “The students will add greatly to the discourse in classes and on campus, and the additional out-of-class activities and mentoring afforded by the Grissom Scholars Program present outstanding opportunities for the fellows. I’m also very enthusiastic about the leadership of the program; Sarah Scott Hall will do a terrific job.”
This program was made possible by the generous donation of Marlene and David Grissom, whom the program is named after.
Although the amount has not been disclosed due to instructions by the donors, they provided the largest donation ever made to Centre or any other college/university in Kentucky. J. David Grissom graduated from Centre in 1960 and was a member of Centre’s Board of Trustees for more than 40 years. He served as chair of the Board for 22 years.
“Historically higher education has played a crucial role in social mobility in this country,” Trollinger said.
“With the high cost of higher education today, we as a nation run the risk of higher education, especially private higher education, becoming a privilege for the privileged (i.e., those who can afford it).
“If we allow that to happen, our nation and our economy will be the poorer for it. Equality of opportunity is a core value of American democracy. The Grissom Scholars Program is intended to help ensure that Centre College remains a place of both high achievement and high opportunity.”