Westminster College has appointed Erik Austin as director of the institution’s new TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program to benefit underrepresented students.
Austin, who worked previously with the TRIO SSS program at the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford, will oversee the College’s efforts to provide services and resources to first-generation, income eligible students and students with disabilities. Of the currently enrolled Westminster students, 38 percent are identified as low income, 17 percent are first-generation college students and 7 percent have a declared disability.
“Erik has worked with TRIO Student Support Services programs before and he understands the challenges that students face when they are first-generation, have high financial need or have a disability,” said Westminster College Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Dr. Jamie McMinn. “He also understands the opportunities that come with completing a college education. As a strong advocate for students, Erik already has begun developing strategies that will serve current and future Titans who are a part of the TRIO SSS program.”
“I am excited for our program to provide additional advising and support services that support the already substantial support network at Westminster College,” said Austin. “As a first-generation college student myself, I know just how difficult it can be to navigate the world of higher education. The impact that a program like TRIO SSS can have on a student is impossible to overstate, and I'm looking forward to helping our very first TRIO cohort meet and exceed their goals.”
Austin earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford and a master’s from Purdue UniversitySupported by the U.S. Department of Education, the TRIO SSS program will offer eligible Westminster students a suite of resources that promote retention, good academic standing, completion and placement in graduate schools and/or careers. Westminster received a $1.3 million grant to support this new program for the next five years, with the possibility of renewal.