ISEC director briefs plans in regents meeting

Callie Miller

The director of the newly merged TRIO and Intercultural Student Engagement Center programs spoke in front of the Board of Regents for the first time since becoming head of the ISEC.

Director Martha Sales said the federally-funded TRIO programs, that cater to students in 10 Kentucky counties, aims to help “first generation, low income, minority, underrepresented students.” Pre-college programs, college enrollment and assistance with graduation are some of the programs’ focuses.

To fund various projects throughout the year and maintain current operations, Sales writes grant proposals annually. Her efforts have helped to bring more than $8 million to the TRIO program in total, and WKU recognized her for this last year.

“What we desire to do is be a place or office that connects education, students and culture,” Sales said.

Additionally, grant programs were previously held in Jones-Jagger Hall, but are now in Downing Student Union room 2041. The grant money is used to fund scholarships for the underrepresented students in an attempt to give them a better chance at success on the collegiate level, Sales said.

Sales told the board ISEC, which recently moved to a new office in DSU, would be modeled similarly to TRIO to focus on connecting to students from different backgrounds to make sure they are comfortable and engaged on campus.

Dean of Students and Chief Diversity Officer Lynne Holland added retention, recruitment and getting students to graduation are the top priorities of the programs.

“As we’ve become far more of a global society, one of the things we’ve realized is that we need to engage with each other,” Holland said.

Sales told the board, working on retention and graduation is not the only focus of the programs, but also making sure students are getting jobs after graduation and keeping them.

After a recent series of racial incidents on WKU’s campus, Sales said she wants to implement different community engagement activities as part of her new position in the Intercultural Student Engagement Center.

“We really want people talking,” she said.

Overall, Sales credits her ability to balance her roles in TRIO and the ISEC to the people she works with.

“I have great people,” she said. “They are the foundation, not me.”

Callie Miller can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @callie_miller8.