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Morgan State University's EMASS Division Awarded $1.5 Million Acceleration Grant From National Institute for Student Success

by Morgan State U
July 08, 2024

Funding to Support Innovative Transformational Change in Managing Student Success, Leading to Improved Academic Outcomes


Baltimore — Morgan State University's Division of Enrollment Management and Student Success (EMASS) received a $1.5 million Acceleration Grant from the National Institute for Student Success (NISS), focused on improving student retention and increasing graduation rates. By collaborating with other offices throughout the university, EMASS provides essential support to guide students through enrollment and academic processes, including managing financial aid and academic advisement. The grant will help the University standardize academic advising systems and protocols to ensure students receive consistent, proactive support across all advising units and colleges. It will also strengthen the ability of student support offices to make proactive, data-informed decisions by providing better access to vetted, timely, and operational data that supports students from diverse backgrounds facing academic progression challenges.

One Stop

“Many Morgan State students are first generation and new to higher education. As a result, the administrative processes and overall student life adjustment can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate," said Ryan Maltese, J.D., Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Student Success and Retention at Morgan State University. “With the recent funding, the university aims to take a holistic approach to address student needs. This will involve providing different levels of support throughout the academic journey, ensuring a positive experience and successful outcome leading to graduation."

One StopNearly half Morgan’s overall student population and more than half of the University’s new students this past fall come from out-of-state, and most are Pell Grant recipients. Over the past several years, research has revealed that both groups maintain lower enrollment and graduation rates than the rest of the student body. NISS, a recognized higher education leader in enhancing graduation rates and reducing equity gaps, collaborates with colleges and universities to identify obstacles to degree completion and implement proven solutions for student success. The grant includes funding to support partnerships with Morgan State University, North Carolina Central University, and Kennesaw State University over the next three years to implement recommendations with formal coaching support. NISS services have already provided diagnostic analyses, implementation support, and access to learning for Morgan’s student success and academic advising employees. The partnerships aim to significantly enhance the universities' efforts to build capacity in identifying and addressing internal structural and institutional barriers that hinder student success.

“Our university has achieved record-high enrollment numbers. However, with this increase comes unique challenges for our students, including financial concerns, student debt, time management skills, and mental health,” said Kara Turner, Ph.D., senior vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Success. “Students perform at their best when they can fully engage in the learning environment without the distractions that hinder their focus. Faculty and administrators must be more agile and flexible in addressing the complex needs of our students. Recognizing the various challenges they may face allows us, as academic leaders, to better support them throughout their time at the university.”

EMASS GrantTo gain a deeper insight into the specific needs of its students, the University actively conducts and takes part in a broad array of surveys. These surveys are aimed at evaluating the quality of education provided and the overall college experience and satisfaction levels of students. This process includes quantitative research, stakeholder interviews, and data collected by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Additional data collected provides information on the successful completion of introductory courses, course availability, advising practices, university infrastructure utilized for advising, financial aid, and processes for overall enrollment services.

The funding provided by the NISS grant will be instrumental in advancing the university’s student advising capabilities. Resources will be allocated towards enhancing and expanding student advising teams' training and learning opportunities. A key focus will be leveraging predictive analytics to empower advisors to manage enrollment more effectively and provide personalized student support. The expanded training program will ensure that all student advisors receive comprehensive and up-to-date training that aligns with best practices in student success. This will include strategies for timely and proactive outreach to students to ensure they are on track with their degree progress and are receiving the support they need to succeed.

In addition to academic advising, the university aims to bolster its financial outreach efforts. By equipping staff to identify early warning signs of students facing financial risk, administrators can proactively intervene to mitigate attrition and dropout rates. This holistic approach to financial outreach will encompass a range of support services to ensure that financial challenges do not derail a student's academic journey.

To complement these initiatives, the university plans to hire additional staff dedicated to academic advising and data collection. These new team members will be crucial in expanding their capacity to provide individualized support and gather valuable data to inform advising strategies and interventions.

About Morgan

Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified high research (R2) institution offering more than 150 academic degrees and certificate programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, and the only university to have its entire campus designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit


Media Contacts:

Cheryl Stewart or Dell Jackson, for Morgan State University PR