Bellarmine chosen for $100,000 “Wal-Mart College Success Award”

July 15, 2008

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (July 15, 2008)—Bellarmine University has been selected by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to receive the Wal-Mart College Success Award—a $100,000 grant to help build on Bellarmine’s demonstrated successes in enrolling, retaining, and graduating first-generation college students. Bellarmine was one of only 20 colleges selected through a highly competitive application process to receive the award, which is intended to help institutions that are already deeply committed to the education of first-generation students.

“Bellarmine is honored to be selected as one of just several outstanding universities nationwide to receive the Wal-Mart College Success Award,” said Bellarmine Vice President for Enrollment Management Sean Ryan. “Thanks in large part to this award, we will be able to enhance and expand our work with first-generation students.”

Building on a well-established record of offering substantial scholarships and academic support to first-generation students, Bellarmine will use the award to provide a new mentorship program for these students. The First-Generation Student Advisor—a new staff position modeled on the university’s very successful Academic Advisor for Athletes—will work with first-generation students individually and also coordinate services for them across the campus. In addition, 15 peer mentors will be trained to work with small groups of first-generation students in their first year and to help them excel academically and to become actively involved in the university’s co-curricular programs.

“CIC was delighted that 217 institutions—more than a third of its membership—applied for the grants. More importantly, we were amazed at the outstanding quality of their programs—truly a testament to the efforts of private colleges to ensure the success of first-generation students,” said CIC President Richard Ekman in announcing the awards. “These awards will help strengthen those programs and also provide recognition that their work is important,” Ekman added.

“Wal-Mart is proud to support programs that enable first generation students to succeed in college,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation. “Wal-Mart’s partnership with CIC identifies institutions committed to the success of first generation students and will help identify and share effective programs.”

Nationwide, at all colleges and universities, only 24 percent of first-generation students succeed in earning a bachelor’s degree compared with 68 percent of students whose parents received a bachelor’s degree. The colleges that have been selected for the Wal-Mart College Success Awards have developed programs that result in higher percentages of graduates among their first-generation college students than the national average, and many graduate first-generation students at the same rate as all other students.

The Wal-Mart College Success Awards program is administered by the Council of Independent Colleges and made possible by a generous grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation. The 19 other winners include: Adrian College (MI), Bay Path College (MA), California Lutheran University, Carroll University (WI), College of Idaho, College of Mount Saint Vincent (NY), College of Saint Benedict (MN), College of St. Scholastica (MN), Florida Memorial University, Illinois College, Juniata College (PA), Kalamazoo College (MI), Lesley University (MA), Manchester College (IN), North Central College (IL), Ripon College (WI), St. Edward’s University (TX), Wartburg College (IA), and Wiley College (TX).

For more information about the Wal-Mart College Success Awards and the programs of the 20 winners, visit the CIC website.

About The Council of Independent Colleges
The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is an association of more than 580 independent, liberal arts colleges and universities and higher education affiliates and organizations that work together to strengthen college and university leadership, sustain high-quality education, and enhance private higher education’s contributions to society. To fulfill this mission, CIC provides its members with skills, tools, and knowledge that address aspects of leadership, financial management and performance, academic quality, and institutional visibility. The Council is headquartered at One Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. For more information, visit

About the Wal-Mart Foundation
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and the Wal-Mart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. Through its philanthropic programs and partnerships, the Wal-Mart Foundation supports initiatives focused on enhancing opportunities in education, job skills training, sustainability and health. In 2007, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and the Wal-Mart Foundation gave $296 million to communities across the United States. To learn more, visit


All News Stories