Colleges partner for easier transfers

Posted on August 9, 2021

University of Texas Permian Basin and Coastal Bend College in Beeville have formed an alliance that will make it easier for students at the community college to take bachelor’s and master’s level courses through the Odessa school.

The agreement was made official at a signing ceremony Friday morning in the foyer of the UTPB library with UTPB President Sandra Woodley and Coastal Bend President Justin Hoggard.

Zachary Suarez, UTPB associate vice president of Academic Affairs, was most recently the dean of enrollment management at Coastal Bend.

“This agreement is very, very special; reason being, it’s a partnership between two Hispanic serving institutions,” Suarez said.

Students can take the courses totally online, if they choose.

UTPB President Sandra Woodley said this was a great opportunity to come together and talk about how their collective work can make a difference in the lives of students.

“You may not know this, but I started in community college. I like to say it took me 10 years and two babies and a lot of different institutions to find my way to my first baccalaureate degree. And if I’d had an articulation agreement, I probably would have saved myself a lot of time and money along the way. So it’s really special to me to have this opportunity, President Hoggard, to work with you and your team to make sure that we have these pathways for our students. It’s important for them; it’s important for us. And we’re really excited to be able to see how many students have the ability to be part of this really important … journey for them,” Woodley said.

“We believe in the partnerships that we have with all of our partners. We’re very pleased to welcome a new one in Coastal Bend and many other community colleges in the Basin and beyond,” she added.

Hoggard has been president of Coastal Bend since 2019. Previously, he was chief academic officer and dean of instruction at Three Rivers College in Poplar Bluff, Mo.

He added that Coastal Bend’s motto is ‘Success Happens Here,’ so the agreement is extending that.

Coastal Bend is located in a rural area and the county has 35,000 people. In a normal year, the college has 4,200 to 4,500 students.

Many in that area want to move on, but there are life challenges such as transportation and picking up and moving is a luxury. UTPB will be a partner that can help students achieve the dream without leaving home.

When Suarez reached out, Hoggard said, he was really excited, especially about the bachelor’s plus master’s opportunity.

“We will be pushing this like candy on Halloween,” Hoggard said.

After the news conference, Hoggard said the agreement will remove barriers for students who want to transfer to a four-year institution to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Most students will be transferring general courses that are dictated by the legislature.

Hoggard said this agreement and others Coastal Bend has, are about giving pathways to students.

“What makes this one so special is UTPB has such a recognized online presence, so for students, like for us, who are in a rural area, cannot necessarily afford to move an hour, or an hour and a half to say to go to a San Antonio school or Corpus or Kingsville, this allows them the opportunity to stay at their home, work in an online programming, and then once they complete that they’re on a path for a graduate degree if they so choose, by being a graduate,” Hoggard said.

The online aspect was greatly appealing to the college’s constituents because they would have the ability to move themselves forward career and education wise without physically moving.

Hoggard said he and Suarez have stayed in close contact since Suarez came to UTPB.

“… He asked if I would be interested in creating something. And our position at the college is every opportunity we can create for a student is an opportunity for success for our students to continue that mantra forward. And, of course, we wanted to do that, especially with an agreement that was so special … So really, it was that relationship we had with Dr. Suarez that made this … possible,” Hoggard said.

Woodley said UTPB has worked hard over the past four years to expand its reach, particularly with articulation agreements to make sure students have a smooth pathway to academic advancement.

“… It’s also a little unique in the sense that we’re adding an articulation agreement to our graduate programs, as well as a two, plus two, plus one. So we think this is going to be a really exciting program, both for our university, but also for the students at Coastal (Bend),” Woodley said.

She added that the No. 1 goal at UTPB is to double the number of people who earn a degree from the university.

“… That is job one for us is making sure that students can be successful and get their degree. In order to do that, we need more students to come in every single year and to be successful with us. This just allows us another pipeline to be able to serve students …,” Woodley added.

The students also get the value of a UT education at one of the lowest costs in the state, she said.

“… There are scholarships available for all of our students here. And even more recently we’ve received additional money from the federal government for the COVID response, so we have money to help students with debt, paying down their debt. We have a big campaign now to help students who have that difficulty, but also more scholarships than we’ve ever had before … that we can offer to students. If there are people in the community who have stopped out and don’t think it’s affordable to come back, please give us a call. We have a lot of resources to help students continue their education here at the university,” Woodley said.

She added that adding graduate programs is another way to enhance articulation agreements.

UTPB does not have doctoral programs. Woodley said there are several proposals in the pipeline, but none of those are ready to advance.

Woodley said working with community colleges is an important part of UTPB’s strategy.

“Serving those students who come out of the community college is just a specialty. We work very closely with Midland College and Odessa College. We’re ramping up those partnerships every single day. We care very much about those. But also statewide, because we have such high quality online programs, and so many of them, we have the ability to reach into other community colleges and other programs for those articulation agreements. That can be very beneficial for achieving our goal of doubling the number of people who get a degree,” Woodley said.

Suarez said the student populations that UTPB and Coastal Bend serve are similar.

“It’s a very, very key partnership that just makes a lot of sense moving forward for both institutions,” Suarez said.

He added that UTPBrecentlysigned an articulation agreement with Tarrant County College.

“That one has been in place as of this summer and we’re working on several more for the upcoming fall semester. … As far as the transfer and pathways that students have access to after they graduate from the two-year is something that we’re focusing on to make sure that we also give them the opportunity to continue on with their studies after they complete that two-year degree,” Suarez said.