A new commitment of $28 million from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation for the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program (METP) was announced jointly Wednesday by the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University.
METP is a collaborative teacher preparation program at the two universities that provides both scholarships and an honors college-type experience for top students, according to the announcement.
The new funding, which the universities will split, brings the total investment in the program by the Hearin Foundation to $42.1 million. The additional funding will sustain the program until 2021 and comes as METP leaders prepare for the program’s fifth class of new freshmen, the universities said.
METP seniors at both universities, who were recruited into the program’s charter class in 2013, are planning to graduate in May and enter Mississippi’s teacher workforce for the first time.
“The Hearin Foundation’s goal is to improve the economic status of Mississippi,” said Laurie H. McRee, a trustee of the Jackson-based foundation. “(We) believe that if you can help raise the level of education, you can raise the economic level of state, as well.
“It’s incredible to see the caliber of (students) the program is attracting. The fact that the universities are working together is just icing on the cake.”
“We hope that this provides a template for our state institutions to continue to work together for education, particularly with respect for teacher education,” said Alan Perry, a trustee of the Hearin Foundation and a member of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “We hope that their example is followed by other institutions across our state.”
The program is designed to attract the best and brightest students from around the nation and the average ACT score for incoming METP freshmen at both institutions is approximately 30, according to the press release.
Today, 146 students from 16 states are members of METP at the two institutions. More than 60 percent of participants come from Mississippi.