Wingate University and South Piedmont Community College officials announced a new scholarship program last summer and promised to continue working together to break down educational barriers. Now, they’ve signed four more agreements aimed at increasing access to baccalaureate-degree programs, providing students with a seamless transfer pathway and improving retention and graduation rates at both schools.
“According to My Future NC, our state needs 2 million residents with high-quality credentials or post-secondary degrees by 2030, and unless universities and community colleges work together, we’ll miss the mark,” said Wingate President Dr. Rhett Brown. “We’re so grateful to have South Piedmont as a partner as we try to make degrees more doable.”
He said the agreements are especially significant in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, which may leave local students who had initially considered traveling out-of-state for college looking for opportunities closer to home.
South Piedmont President Dr. Maria Pharr reiterated Dr. Brown’s sentiments and added, “The partnership between South Piedmont Community College and Wingate University provides a unique and transformational opportunity to advance educational attainment and economic mobility through seamless and progressive credential completion for our students. Crafting this partnership has highlighted the fact that great things happen when true collaboration and student centeredness stay at the heart of our thinking. We are honored and excited to partner with Wingate University on this novel and contemporary approach to higher education.”
Brown and Pharr have put their seals of approval on the following:
— Road2Wingate Agreement: This will give academically qualified South Piedmont students a seamless admissions process, high-quality academic advising and access to facilities and programs designed to welcome them and help them acclimate to the Wingate campus culture. Open to students enrolled in Early College or Career and College Promise or those in the first semester of community college enrollment, Road2Wingate requires that students complete a College Transfer Success seminar their first semester at South Piedmont and take part in academic advising sessions with representatives from both schools. If they complete an associate degree with a GPA of at least 2.5, their admission to Wingate will be guaranteed. From the time they enroll, Road2Wingate students will receive a guest pass WU ID. They’ll be able to use Wingate’s library and attend athletic events free of charge. Once they complete 30 credit hours at South Piedmont and maintain a GPA of 2.5, they’ll receive further benefits. Upon graduation from South Piedmont they will be eligible for the Gateway to Wingate Scholarship, which caps tuition cost at $2,500 per year.
— Articulation Agreement: AA/AS Degree in Early Childhood Education/Practitioner Pathway to Bachelor of Liberal Studies in Education Studies/Language and Literacy Concentration (K-6). Per the agreement, students with an associate degree will be able to transfer 59 semester credit hours from South Piedmont to Wingate and take 61 more at the University to earn their BLS. To receive credit for their general education requirements, they will have to have earned at least a C in each class and have a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Once they achieve their bachelor's degree, students can pursue their master of arts in teaching to become licensed elementary school educators.
— Articulation Agreement: Psychology AA/AS to BA/BS. These articulation agreements would allow students with an associate’s degree in psychology to transfer 60 to 62 credit hours from South Piedmont to Wingate and take 64 to 68 more to earn their bachelor’s degree. One of Wingate’s most popular and versatile majors, psychology attracts students interested in conflict resolution, research and analytical skills, and the opportunity to help others.
— Memorandum of Understanding between Wingate University and South Piedmont Community College for University Honors: This allows students who make at least a B on honors courses at South Piedmont and have a GPA of 3.4 or higher to apply up to 6 credit hours toward Wingate University honors requirements. They must take at least 10 hours of honors credit at Wingate to qualify for the University Honors distinction at graduation.
Dr. Travis Teague, who leads the University’s Office of External Academic Partnerships, said the new agreements will streamline the transfer process while maintaining the rigor and integrity of the University’s programs. He said both schools and the entire region will benefit as more students are able to attain their educational goals and strengthen the workforce.
“We know that students who transfer to four-year universities after having demonstrated success at the community college level graduate at equal or higher rates than those who come in straight from high school, so these are competitive students” Teague said. “Furthermore, South Piedmont students in our Road2Wingate program, will already be connected to our university with its added support system before they enroll at Wingate.”
He said the partnership will not only encourage and motivate students to complete their associate’s degree at the community college, but it will also give them a great start at Wingate.
“It’s a win-win situation for South Piedmont and Wingate, but most importantly, it’s a win for the students,” Teague added.
The agreements that Pharr and Brown have signed may also serve as a playbook for similar partnerships between institutions in other parts of the U.S. since Wingate and South Piedmont are part of a Council of Independent Colleges pilot program to make it easier for students to pursue liberal arts degrees at independent colleges. The Teagle Foundation awarded CIC a $400,000 grant for a three-year project to determine best practices for community college to private college pathways that can be used in other states. The project is in partnership with North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.
“We know that community college students can enhance their prospects for successful and timely completion of bachelor’s degrees at private colleges, and we also know that CIC colleges and universities can benefit tremendously by increasing the number of well-prepared community college transfer students,” CIC President Richard Ekman said in announcing the grant.
Already two dozen local students, including business management major Dillon Hill, have taken advantage of the Gateway to Wingate Scholarship program since its inception late last summer.
“The reason I decided to continue my education past my associate’s degree is because I feel like in today’s world you need to have many factors to stand out. Higher-paying jobs don’t just recommend bachelor’s degrees, they normally require them and sometimes more,” Hill said. “My mom always told me that lack of education should never be the reason why you didn’t get a promotion that you want.”
Hill heard about the Gateway Scholarship from Dr. Pharr and has found it very helpful. After he graduates next year, he plans to find a job in human resources and pursue his MBA via Wingate’s evening classes.
Learn more about the Wingate/SPCC partnership.
-- April 20, 2020