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WMU signs on to help GRCC students earn associate degrees

by Cheryl Roland

June 27, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of GVSU President Thomas J. Haas, WMU President John M. Dunn and MCCA Chairperson Mike Hansen.
Hass, GVSU; Dunn, WMU; and Mike Hansen, Michigan Community College Association chairperson
KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University was one of four Michigan universities to sign an unprecedented reverse transfer agreement June 13 with Grand Rapids Community College, enabling students to earn an associate degree by combining their GRCC credits with those earned at the school to which they transferred.

WMU joined Davenport, Ferris State and Grand Valley State universities in forming the Reverse Transfer Associate Degree Initiative consortia with GRCC. Under the agreement terms, transfer students who earned at least 45 credits at GRCC can apply for a retroactive associate degree using the credits earned at their four-year transfer school. It takes 60 credits to earn a GRCC associate degree.

WMU President John M. Dunn was on hand for the signing ceremony, along with GRCC President Steven Ender and the presidents of the other three participating universities. State lawmakers and area business people, students and staff also attended the event to celebrate the agreement that is designed to enhance existing transfer and articulation agreements between the universities and the community college.

"What this means is that a student can earn an associate degree after they've transferred, thereby obtaining additional credentials as they pursue their career goals," said GRCC's Ender at the signing ceremony. "By ensuring that our students--and our work force--obtain all the credentials available to them, we are ensuring that we have an ongoing supply of world-class talent in West Michigan."

According to GRCC officials, about 1,000 students leave the school every year having earned 45 credits or more, but without earning enough for a degree. The new agreement allows them to combine credits earned at two schools to add an important credential to their resume. That credential also can serve as a safeguard for students who may not complete their four-year degree before entering the work force.

The initiative grew out of a brainstorming session with Talent 2025, a coalition of more than 50 Michigan CEOs that is working to enhance Michigan's future work force. The group has aligned itself with 13 university, college and community college presidents, elected officials, foundations and other stakeholders to conduct research and design and implement plans to improve the talent development process. The goal is to create a globally competitive work force by 2025.