Concord University Receives National Honor For Gear Up Involvement

For Immediate Release: 
Jul 31 2015

CONTACT:  Sarah Dalton

Concord University

Office of Advancement

PO Box 1000, Athens, WV 24712

(304) 384-6312,         





ATHENS, W.Va. – Concord University has been recognized nationally for work with a program that assists students in West Virginia in preparing to enter and succeed in college.

The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) named Concord University the 2015 national “GEAR UP Community Partner of the Year.” The announcement was made on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 during the organization’s National Conference in San Francisco.

The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships is a “non-profit, non-partisan organization working to increase access to higher education for economically disadvantaged students.”

Concord was recognized for its support of the West Virginia GEAR UP program, a federally funded grant program that helps students from low-income areas prepare for college.

West Virginia GEAR UP serves more than 5,000 students annually in 10 West Virginia counties. The project is coordinated by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission under the leadership of Dr. Adam Green, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, which received its second consecutive GEAR UP grant last year.

 “Concord University has supported West Virginia GEAR UP from the beginning,” Melissa Gattuso, College Access and Success Program Director for West Virginia GEAR UP, said in her nomination of Concord for the award. “Our first Student Leadership Academy was held at Concord. Our first GEAR UP U! was held at Concord. Concord was one of the first colleges to join our Text 4 Success Campaign. They host our College Prep Rally during College Application and Exploration Week. They host two College Goal Sunday sites. They support our College Decisions Days.”

Additionally, Concord has worked with elementary, middle and high school teachers to integrate college preparation activities within area schools and has offered more than half a million dollars in scholarships to students graduating from high schools participating in the GEAR UP program.

“The entirety of Concord University works together to provide experiences, opportunities, and support to West Virginia GEAR UP students, faculty, staff, and communities. Concord University’s dedication to students has touched many lives and the good people of Concord University are revered as family to West Virginia GEAR UP,” the NCCEP conference brochure stated.

Dr. Marjie Flanigan, Vice President of Student Affairs at Concord University, traveled to the NCCEP National Conference in San Francisco to accept the award.

“This is an outstanding honor for our university,” Dr. Flanigan said. “We believe it is a key part of our mission to make sure that all West Virginians have access to high-quality higher education programs. Our collaboration with the GEAR UP project has helped us work hand-in-hand with our communities to eliminate and overcome barriers that might prevent students from pursuing their dreams of earning a college diploma.”

In a special ceremony at Concord on Monday, July 27, Dr. Flanigan and Ms. Gattuso presented the award to the University’s President, Dr. Kendra Boggess.

Dr. Boggess acknowledged the efforts of Dr. Flanigan, the Admissions Office staff, and all others involved in GEAR UP.

“How very proud we are of all of the work that has been accomplished in Concord’s GEAR UP program and grant,” she said.

GEAR UP, which stands for “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs,” is a national initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The program provides services to approximately 551,000 students in low-income schools across 43 states and 1 territory.

Concord University served as a college partner for the following schools in the 2014-2015 academic year: Fayette County:  Ansted and Collins middle schools, Meadow Bridge, Midland Trail, Oak Hill, and Valley high schools; McDowell County: Mount View and River View high schools; Mercer County: Bluefield Middle and Bluefield High School, Glenwood K-8, Montcalm High School, PikeView and Princeton middle schools; Summers County: Summers Middle and Summers High School; and Wyoming County: Westside and Wyoming East high schools.

More information about the Community Partner of the Year Award can be found at the NCCEP website,

Photo attached below


Melissa Gattuso, College Access and Success Program Director for West Virginia GEAR UP, left, presents the “GEAR UP Community Partner of the Year” award to Concord University President Dr. Kendra Boggess, right.



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