CUAA students

Concordia University received word from the U.S. Department of Education on Monday, September 30, that the institution is a recipient of a Title III Strengthening Institutions grant totaling $2,685,992 over the next five years.

This is the one of the largest grants awarded to the university in the institution’s history.

Concordia University submitted a grant application with the purpose of improving student outcomes and financial efficiency with an emphasis to serve low-income and first generation college students.

A majority of the funds are dedicated to initiatives on the university’s Ann Arbor campus because of a need to increase student support, renovate the academic resource center, and additions to a student health center.

“I am so thankful for the funds that were entrusted to us as a university as we build on our strong foundation as a Christ-centered, mission-driven, student-focused higher education institution,” said Vice President of Administration Rev. Dr. Ryan Peterson, whom will serve as the Title III Project Director. “We are thrilled for the ways that these resources will bless our students and we are eager to invest our collective energy in assuring every student is served well.”

Realized project outcomes include a renovated academic resource center, additional support services, a student health center that offers psychiatric care and a comfort dog. Also included will be improved purchasing procedures and policies, increased scholarships to middle-low income students, increased diversity of faculty and staff, including a new director of multicultural engagement, and additional funding for university endowments.

While this is one of the largest grants received, the university actively pursues research grants and has a number of entrepreneurial pursuits and patents under its belt. Just recently, Dr. Travis Suss of Concordia’s Mequon campus was one of 26 recipients of the U.S. Department Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration’s Geriatrics Academic Career Award (GACA) a $294,455 grant. Also, Batterman School of Business Dean Dr. Dan Sem has received two National Institutes of Health grants for estrogen research with the promise to treat dementia in women.

The narrative for this particular grant—a Title III Strengthening Institutions grant—included statistics from the office of institution research comparing the lower graduation and retention rates of low-income students compared to their peers, and the increasing number of students with behavioral health concerns and trauma exposure. 90% of the costs of the project are financed through federal money while the remaining 10% is financed through non-governmental sources.

A campus spearhead in contributing to the project narrative is Dr. Tori Negash, CUAA’s director of the academic resource center and accessibility services. Negash worked closely with Dr. Julie Dresen, director of the office of research and sponsored programs, and Rachel Heil, pre and post award coordinator, on writing the narrative, gathering the data, details, and measurements needed to design the project and prove that Concordia was capable of implementing a strategy of this scale.

Many areas receiving the funds and support are under Negash’s leadership. She says that with the programming and changes made possible by this grant, Concordia is well-positioned to address student needs in a truly holistic way.

“From renovation plans, to the creation of new staff positions, expanded counseling services, a health center, trauma-informed care training, and new scholarship opportunities, I am blessed to be part of a project that will positively impact Concordia and the lives of the students we serve,” said Negash.

Stay tuned to for future stories that will detail the impact of this grant.

— Rachel Thoms served on Concordia University's Strategic Communications team from 2015-2022. Any inquiries about this story can be sent to

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