At a time when many colleges and universities are cutting back on financial aid and benefits to students to cope with the national economic crisis, Mary Baldwin recently announced a plan to direct more than $700,000 in institutional and private funding to its most important investment — its students.
The RCW Student Stimulus Package, named for its focus on undergraduate students in the Residential College for Women (RCW), includes scholarships and the creation of 50 new paid internship positions. The three-part stimulus plan was first introduced to members of student Senate this week and the news was delivered campus-wide yesterday in a letter from Mary Baldwin President Pamela Fox. Student responses have already started flowing into the president’s office.
“I think a stimulus plan for the college is a wonderful idea,” said Jessica Carrigo ’10 in an e-mail to Dr. Fox that also included questions about how to apply for the awards outlined in the plan. “I am so grateful to be part of such a conscientious college.”
One part of the stimulus package is designed to help next year’s freshman class, and the other two components provide additional financial support for returning students:
- Baldwin Leadership Gateway:250 awards of $2,000 each will be offered to first-year students who elect to participate in one of the college’s seven signature gateways in fall 2009. Those gateways are Global Honors Scholars, Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, Spencer Citizens for Civic and Global Engagement, Career Academy, Ida. B. Wells Cultural Identity Program, and Health and Wellness Community.
- Julia’s List:Named in honor of the college’s 19th-century leader Mary Julia Baldwin, this list is comprised of returning students who have demonstrated academic excellence. Based on both merit and need, the fund will offer assistance so that they may continue their momentum at Mary Baldwin. Qualifying students will be notified by letter in early March. (Other students whose circumstances have changed should contact the Financial Aid Office to find out if they qualify for additional support.)
- Changemakers:Mary Baldwin will put its own students to work, creating 50 new internship positions that offer career-building job experiences and serve the on-campus and regional community. Opportunities, which will be announced on Mary Baldwin’s Web site by April 15 and updated throughout the spring and summer, include helping to “green” the campus, becoming a peer mentor, serving as a wellness partner, or volunteering with educational and non-profit agencies in Augusta County, Virginia.
When the plan was unveiled to members of student Senate, it was clear to students that their college’s emphasis is clearly on student success: “Faculty, staff, donors, friends, and the Board of Trustees are making reductions to devote as many resources as possible to our students,” said Brenda Bryant, vice president for enrollment management and student life and dean of students.
That priority was echoed by Professor of Education Jim Harrington, a member of the college’s Working Budget Group. “Our task was to look for cuts and ways to redistribute funds to preserve the basic mission and values of Mary Baldwin. Not many schools are considering right now how to give more to students, but generosity and flexibility have allowed Mary Baldwin to do just that. It is a powerful thing for students to look at the professors and staff members they know and realize that they have made sacrifices to ensure the future of their education.”