Auburn’s PLUS scholarship program gets boost from Wachovia donation

AUBURN – The Provost Leadership Undergraduate Scholarship, or PLUS, Program at Auburn University received its largest gift ever, a $250,000 donation from the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation. The program recently received national recognition when Auburn was named Scholarship Provider of the Year at the 2009 National Scholarship Providers Association Annual Conference for creating the PLUS Program.

The PLUS Program provides a $2,000 annual scholarship to recipients, renewable for up to three years, as well as additional support that makes it more than a scholarship program. PLUS focuses on the recruitment and retention of talented first-generation college students and also benefits those with financial need or from diverse backgrounds. PLUS Scholarships have been awarded to a total of 125 incoming undergraduate students since its inception in 2006. For the current academic year, 75 students have been awarded a scholarship or are participating in the program.

To help ensure that participants succeed at Auburn, PLUS students are placed in a learning community. They participate in peer mentoring, leadership training, time management and study skills training, study and tutoring sessions and counseling by a PLUS coordinator.

“The PLUS Program has been a great success,” said Overtoun Jenda, associate provost for diversity and multicultural affairs. “Students participating in the program since its inception in 2006 have an average first-year retention rate of 95 percent, compared with an average overall retention rate of 86.6 percent for the university. This generous gift from the Wachovia Corporation will allow us to continue to support our students and make sure they stay and graduate from Auburn.”

“A college education is the key to success for so many people, and helping first-generation students is especially appealing,” said Mike Donnelly, regional president for Alabama for Wachovia, a Wells Fargo Company. “With such a track record of success, this program is well deserving of support.”

The gift comes as the first recipients of the scholarship are set to graduate this May.

“If it were not for the PLUS Scholarship, I would not know the pluses in life. A simple scholarship has forwarded me more opportunities than I could ever imagine,” said Chris Colvin, senior PLUS Scholarship recipient. “No matter where I end up in life, no matter what I end up doing, I know that PLUS in some way, shape or form had an influence on getting me there.”

To read Colvin’s speech in its entirety, please click here.

Contact: Overtoun Jenda, (334) 844-4184 (jendaov@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)

Auburn University President Jay Gogue speaks with recipients of the Auburn PLUS Scholarship

President Jay Gogue, PLUS scholarship recipient Chris Colvin and Mike Donnelly, Wachovia Regional President, Mid-South Region