The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $395,890 to the University of Maine at Augusta, according to a joint news release by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine.

James Conneely, who took over as UMA’s president Tuesday, said in a statement that the grant would support strategic student success initiatives.

The money will be used for “helping students build stronger connections to their academic majors, embedding student support in classes, and making student support services available through mobile devices,” he said. “We are both humbled and grateful that the Department of Education is able to support UMA’s efforts.”

Collins and King said UMA provides vital educational opportunities to both first-time and nontraditional students.

“This grant funding will bolster that tradition by expanding support for low-income students, giving more Maine students the chance to attain an education and the skills necessary to succeed in today’s global economy,” the senators said.

The money is expected to create two new staff positions to support the student success initiatives, according to Sheri Fraser, UMA’s dean of students.

The school said the initial award would be renewable for five years for a total grant of up to $1,682,568.

Fraser said one of the projects the grant will support is a robust online orientation.

“Much of the emphasis will be to provide expanded support services for online classes,” Fraser said. “We want to make sure we are providing excellent support services to our online students.”

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

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