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WVU Tech mathematics department awarded grant to reduce financial burden for students

Beckley, W. Va. – West Virginia Institute of Technology (WVU Tech) is making it easier for students to succeed by purchasing supplies so that they do not have to purchase additional materials for their mathematics courses. This was made possible through grant funds and donations from the Tech Golden Bear Alumni Association.
Dr. Deborah Chun, Professor and Chair of the Mathematics Department, says the high cost for class materials is a nationwide concern. Students in precalculus, trigonometry and calculus courses can get the required books, software and calculators at no additional cost. 
“A typical engineering major would take precalculus, which is two courses, then the calculus sequence, which is three courses. Additionally, some students are required to take Differential Equations,” Chun said. “Just before we transitioned to free textbooks, we were using an e-book and software package for precalculus that cost about $150. The calculus sequence used a book that is currently $329.95 through our campus bookstore. Differential Equations uses a textbook that costs $289.95. Now, all these courses can be taken without purchasing any class materials.”
According to Chun, the department has always been concerned about the cost of course materials. The COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the problem. Through the West Virginia University Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC), which supports instruction through the WVU system, and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, grants became available to adopt Open Educational Resources (OER) in classrooms.
“Since I started at WVU Tech, the math department has had to plan for students who did not buy required textbooks.” Chun said. “Our department noticed that some students in our math classes couldn’t pay for textbooks or software when the course started, if at all. When the TLC first advertised funding for faculty to implement OER in courses, two math faculty members applied. In 2019, Dr. Chris McClain won an award for Calculus, and Dr. Caleb Holloway won an award for Plane Trigonometry.”
When the opportunity arose to donate funds to help build on the grants Tech was receiving, the Tech Golden Bear Alumni Association (TGBAA) was excited to be able to help contribute and to continue to support students.
“The TGBAA is pleased to provide funding support to the WVU Tech Mathematics Department to assist with this initiative and to help reduce the cost of class materials for WVU Tech students. We are always excited to have the opportunity to support our fellow Golden Bears at Tech,” says Mike Fry, President of the Tech Golden Bear Alumni Association.
This effort was also supported by two grants awarded to Dr. Chris McClain, two awarded to Dr. Caleb Holloway and two awarded to Ms. Maegen Shults. Next semester, the most recent $1,000 grant awarded to Dr. Susan Barton will be able to add Differential Equations to the list of courses using OER.
“Free textbooks and calculators make post-secondary education more financially accessible. We want to thank the mathematics department and our donors for this achievement,” says Dr. Tamara Floyd-Smith, Dean of the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences.