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UW Transfer Initiative Nets First Agreements to Benefit Students

September 23, 2014
Students crossing campus
Students transferring to the University of Wyoming College of Business from Laramie County Community College will benefit from new articulation agreements between LCCC and UW. (UW Photo)

Students who take business courses at Laramie County Community College now have the assurance that those courses will meet requirements for two specific bachelor’s degrees in business at the University of Wyoming, as a result of new articulation agreements between the two institutions.

UW and Wyoming community college leaders say the agreements between LCCC and the UW College of Business are the first of many program-level plans they expect to be struck as part of a concerted statewide effort to ease the transition for students moving from community colleges to the university.

“Faculty members at both our institution and the university are working diligently to keep students first,” says Jose Fierro, LCCC’s vice president for academic affairs. “Some of these agreements will happen faster than others, but I think we will get there. My experience with the faculty at both institutions shows that the conversation is always around what’s best for students.”

The two new agreements are for UW bachelor’s degrees in accounting and business administration, though UW College of Business Interim Dean John Mittelstaedt says LCCC transfers pursuing degrees in management, marketing and finance also will benefit.

“These agreements are going to have a significant impact on the ability of transfer students to succeed at UW,” Mittelstaedt says. “For a student transferring from LCCC to UW, it will cut anywhere from a semester to a year from what it has been taking to complete a bachelor’s degree.”

Mittelstaedt notes that historically, students transferring to the College of Business end up taking an average of 152 credit hours, while the average for students starting at UW is 134 hours. The new agreements “level the playing field,” Fierro says, as students taking prescribed courses at LCCC now will see those courses count toward UW degree requirements.

“Our transfer students will finish at the same time as UW native students for years one through four,” says Fierro, who notes that LCCC students also will have access to UW College of Business advisers.

Mittelstaedt says the agreements will benefit students who start their studies at UW as well. The university aims to develop four-year curriculum maps that can be easily accessed by prospective students and their families.

“By sitting down and working through this relationship with LCCC, we have a clearer understanding of the path to graduation for students who enter UW as freshmen, too,” he says.

Both leaders praise the efforts of LCCC and UW business faculty members, noting that any articulation agreement requires some give and take.

“It truly is a collaborative effort, and LCCC is a great partner to work with,” Mittelstaedt says. “Their faculty had been revising their curriculum, and it lined up really nicely with us. The process respected faculty governance and curriculum both there and here. We didn’t have to change our degrees -- but rather than look at things at a course-by-course level, we’re now articulating at the degree-by-degree level.”

“The business faculty members worked very closely and had a lot of conversation,” Fierro says. “All of the conversation was very positive.”

UW is engaged in similar discussions with all seven Wyoming community colleges, with a goal of signing articulation agreements with each of the colleges for the 17 UW degree programs that are most popular with community college transfer students. UW Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Alyson Hagy says the initiative, a top priority for UW President Dick McGinity, is an ambitious undertaking because each college has its own course requirements -- but it’s clearly in the best interests of UW and the colleges, and their students.

“We won’t sign all of these agreement overnight. Each community college is different. They have designed their programs to reflect their communities and their missions,” Hagy says. “But we all recognize that providing a clear four-year pathway to a degree for prepared students is the right thing to do.”

While discussions have been taking place between specific UW academic departments and their counterparts at the community colleges, UW officials hope to further advance the initiative at a UW/community college Articulation Summit Thursday, Sept. 25, at the Wyoming Union Ballroom on the UW campus. Representatives of UW and the community colleges are scheduled to spend the day reviewing progress on specific program discussions, talking about advising challenges and sharing information about developmental education courses.

“We have had a fantastic response to the upcoming Articulation Summit, with more than 130 faculty and administrators from across the state planning to attend,” says Patrice Noel, UW’s newly appointed director of transfer relations. “I feel confident that we can make some forward progress on program articulation.”

Fierro says UW and LCCC are “just scratching the surface” with the new agreements on two business degrees. He notes that faculty members from both institutions are “working closely to move additional agreements forward,” including one he’s now reviewing for history majors.

“We have a number of agreements almost ready to be carried to the finish line,” he says.

For his part, Mittelstaedt says the agreements with LCCC are just a start.

“We look forward to doing this with other schools,” he says. “These are the first agreements, and we hope they’ll serve as a template for others. This is an important thing to do for students, the state and our economy.”


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