Agreements Benefit Community College Students Transferring to UW

Photo Courtesy of the University of Wyoming.

Students in many popular degree programs at Wyoming community colleges now have the assurance that courses they’re taking will meet requirements for bachelor’s degrees at the University of Wyoming, as a result of new articulation agreements between UW and the institutions.

The program-level agreements have been struck as part of a concerted statewide effort to ease the transition for students moving from community colleges to UW.

“It’s going to show that clear pathway for students as they meet the requirements at the community college level, and then they’re able to come to UW and finish that bachelor’s degree,” says Terry Harper, Laramie County Community College’s (LCCC) interim vice president for academic affairs. “It’s a win for the students, it’s a win for the parents, and it’s a win for the community colleges as well as the university.”

“The transfer articulation agreements make it possible for students to attend any Wyoming community college and be assured that they will have a seamless transfer to the University of Wyoming,” says Astrid Northrup, Northwest College associate professor of engineering and mathematics, and physical science division chair. “Students will know in advance exactly what courses to take, both at the colleges and the university, to earn their bachelor’s degree. These agreements are the result of a new level of cooperation between Wyoming community colleges and the University of Wyoming. It’s a huge advantage for our students.”

More than 50 of the program-level agreements have been signed so far. They cover a variety of majors, depending upon the institution, including: animal and veterinary science; family and consumer science; criminal justice; English; political science; psychology; wildlife and fisheries biology and management; zoology; accounting; business administration; elementary education; kinesiology and health promotion; civil engineering; and petroleum engineering. Additional agreements are nearing completion for other majors.

“The transfer articulation agreements will provide students with a semester-by-semester plan that will allow them to complete an associate’s degree at a Wyoming community college in two years and a bachelor’s degree at UW in an additional two years in their chosen major,” says Patrice Noel, UW’s director of transfer relations. “With these agreements, we expect that students will complete degrees at a higher rate and at a faster pace — and that’s a great thing.”

UW and community college administrators praise the work of faculty members at the respective institutions, noting that any articulation agreement requires some give and take.

“Our faculty are totally committed to this process, and we’re continuing to work on establishing and enhancing our relationships with UW,” LCCC’s Harper says. “We just spent all last year redesigning our programs and our general education requirements. That provided countless opportunities for our faculty members to meet with their colleagues at the university to talk about what each program looks like and how it will fit with a degree plan at UW. We’re delighted that UW has worked with us and helped us to achieve the success we have made so far.”

“The university, as a whole, has been very good to work with throughout this entire process, and it is so beneficial for our students,” says Eastern Wyoming College President Richard Patterson. “They now will be able to focus on their majors and stay on track to graduate in four years.”

“The faculty is involved, our advising office is involved, and it’s important that students follow the steps,” says Mercedes Aguirre Batty, dean of arts, humanities and social science at Northern Wyoming Community College District. “Once they have transferred to the university, it will be great to see that all of the hard work that everyone has put into (the agreements) will pay off.”

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 faculty have really rolled up their sleeves in support of this effort,” says English professor Alyson Hagy, a former associate vice president for academic affairs who has helped lead the effort. “It takes a lot of time and attention to mesh UW programs with seven different curricula from the community colleges, but our faculty have risen to the occasion because of the obvious benefits to students. The agreements we have so far will affect about half of the Wyoming students who transfer to UW every year.”

The university’s goal is to sign another 60-70 agreements in order to aid as many community college graduates as possible.

“To keep this going, we’ll emphasize the importance of these efforts to the new administration — they will need to know and understand how important this is to Wyoming and what a difference it makes to our students,” says Anne Alexander, who succeeded Hagy as associate vice president for academic affairs. “We have to continue to keep our faculty engaged, because that’s where the rubber meets the road. We’ll continue providing support for dialogue to sustain the agreements we’ve signed so that, when programs evolve, there’s opportunity to share information and update agreements. Our team at UW will keep at it, expanding areas for cooperation to benefit Wyoming students.”

“I’m pleased with progress thus far with credit transfer efforts,” Northwest College President Stefani Hicswa  says. “The ongoing goal must be to make our students’ transition to UW as smooth as possible for them.”