Webster University

Webster University has been awarded a nearly $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create scholarships and support systems to benefit low-income, high-achieving students who transfer from community colleges to complete a four-year STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degree.

The “Winning Approaches for Talented Transfers in STEM” (WATTS) identifies successful strategies for supporting STEM transfer students to degree completion.

“Our STEM faculty and the passion they bring to helping their students succeed epitomize Webster’s commitment to making a difference in the communities we serve,” said Webster University President Julian Z. Schuster.

“I want to congratulate professors Mary Preuss, Stephanie Schroeder and Ryan Groeneman, our Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and Webster’s entire team for their efforts to make this proposal a reality.”

The WATTS project, over the next five years, will award scholarships to 32 academically talented, financially needy transfer students from area community colleges who are pursuing undergraduate degrees in Webster University’s biology or chemistry programs. 

One of its goals is to retain at least 90% of WATTS Scholars through degree completion through existing academic support systems, such as Webster’s Reeg Academic Resource Center, and peer mentoring tailored to meet the needs of incoming transfer students.

“Through this grant we will strengthen our collaborations with St. Louis Community College and St. Charles Community College and support students’ ability to finish their four-year degree in a science field,” said Biology Associate Professor Mary Lai Preuss, the project lead for WATTS.

“We will develop a deeper understanding of the factors that affect the recruitment, retention, graduation, and post-graduation success of students transferring from community colleges, which all institutions will benefit from.”

The WATTS project could also contribute to the scientific workforce in St. Louis, which in turn could increase the number of high-wage employees throughout the region.

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