AT&T gives San Antonio campus grant for distance learning needs

Release Date: June 16, 2008

SAN ANTONIO -- The AT&T Foundation, the corporate philanthropy organization of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), and Wayland Baptist University have announced a $290,000 grant to support distance learning initiatives.

WBU is the fourth largest Southern Baptist university in the country and has provided quality higher education to students in Texas for 100 years.

The grant will help fully fund the equipment needs for distance learning classrooms and help solve three major problems facing higher education today: a critical shortage of nursing students; a critical shortage of qualified elementary and secondary teachers; and an inability to find qualified college level faculty in many of the smaller campus locations and traditionally underserved areas.

“AT&T’s grant gives WBU the opportunity to expand program offerings and add classrooms, laboratories and distance education programs,” said Dr. James Antenen, dean of Wayland Baptist University– San Antonio.

The project, partially funded by AT&T, is helping expand WBU’s capacity to serve the needs of an estimated 2,000 additional students annually through distance education to directly address the following issues:

  • Shortage of skilled nurses
  • Shortage of qualified elementary/secondary teachers
  • Shortage of bilingual teachers
  • Shortage of schoolhouse seats for nursing and teacher education students
  • Shortage of non-traditional evening nursing and teacher education degree programs for working adults
  • Inaccessibility to nursing, teacher education, and numerous other programs in the underserved surrounding area, including the Rio Grande Valley, West Texas and New Mexico.

“There was never any doubt Wayland would put this grant to good use,” said Jerry Fuentes, AT&T Assistant Vice President-External Affairs. “We saw a need and wanted to make every effort to be part of the process of addressing critical shortages of teachers and nurses. These are two of the most important occupations out there, addressing our children and those in need.”

According to information from the Texas Department of State Health Services, the state nursing shortage translates to roughly 7,100 positions left unfilled in Texas hospitals, costing them as much as $390 million to recruit high-level professionals. These shortages are magnified along the Texas border with Mexico.

Meanwhile, according to a recent report released by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, nearly 37,000 Texas teachers leave the classroom each year to retire or enter another profession while the state’s student population explodes.

“The Legislature has worked hard to develop policies to make Texas the most connected state in the country. I applaud technology being used to access higher education,” said state Senator Leticia Van de Putte.

AT&T has a history of investing in programs that enhance and enable success in education, supporting initiatives that help students throughout the higher education continuum. These include programs for the successful completion of high school, college preparation and degree completion and graduation. In April 2008, AT&T and the AT&T Foundation launched a $100 million philanthropic program to help strengthen student success and workforce readiness. It includes grants to schools and nonprofit organizations, creation of a student job shadowing initiative, underwriting of national research, and support for state and community dropout prevention summits.