This Texas Hispanic-Serving Institution Just Secured $8.3M in Federal Funds

St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, will use the money to boost graduation rates and build a new engineering center.
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  • St. Mary’s University will receive more than $5.5 million in federal appropriations that were secured by Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro.
  • The Department of Education also awarded the school a $2.8 million grant.
  • The funds will also be used to boost graduation rates, cover student transfer credits, and build a new engineering center.

St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, is starting 2023 with a big boost – more than $8 million in federal funding.

St. Mary's is a private liberal arts school, Hispanic-serving institution (HSI), and the oldest Catholic university in Texas. It has a student population of about 3,500 students.

On Jan. 4, the Department of Education (ED) awarded St. Mary's a $2,834,710 grant to boost graduation rates.

The next day, the school announced that Democratic Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro had secured more than $5.5 million in federal appropriations for the school that will help build a new engineering center. The funding was part of the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus appropriations law signed into law.

“I have always fought to ensure San Antonio receives its fair share of funding so our community can continue to thrive,” Castro said in a press release. “That’s why I am glad to have gotten more than $5.5 million included in the 2023 federal funding bill to help St. Mary’s University construct and equip an innovation center that will create even greater opportunities for students as they work to pursue degrees and enter the workforce.

St. Mary’s University broke ground on the three-story Blank Sheppard Innovation Center in October 2022.

The additional $5,561,000 million secured by Castro will help build and equip seven new laboratories on the first two floors of the state-of-the-art, 30,000-square-foot center. The third floor will become home to a planned Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

The school said the five-year, $2.8 million ED grant will be used to help enhance the first-year experience and create high-impact practices in the college of arts, humanities, and social sciences.

"We don't just want our students to graduate," said Betsy Smith, chair and associate professor of political science and the grant overseer. "St. Mary's wants its students to have a successful post-graduation life. That's where things like credentialing come in — these badges reinforce the skills that students have that make them competitive and unique in the workforce, and that also reflect the Marianist characteristics of a St. Mary's education."

St. Mary's also will use the grant to ease student transfer credits from other institutions like high schools and Alamo community colleges.

"We are going to create a sense of belongingness for our students that not only helps St. Mary's retain and graduate them, but also reinforces the importance of serving others," said Smith.