Already strong partners in higher education, The University of Texas-Pan American and South Texas Community College reinforced their ties Thursday by signing an articulation agreement to help students obtain their college degrees in the Rio Grande Valley.
The three-page agreement fulfills the "2+2" function of traditional articulation agreements between community colleges and universities by assuring students that associate degree programs at STCC satisfy the freshman and sophomore year requirements of four-year baccalaureate degrees at UTPA.
"Before South Texas Community College, we were trying to be everything to everybody," said UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez during the signing at the Marialice Shary Shivers Administration Board Room.
"We found out it was difficult to fill the role of a community college while at the same time filling the role of a university developing professional programs. STCC has really been a blessing for us."
Nevárez, STCC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed, UTPA Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Rodolfo Arevalo and STCC Vice President for Instructional Services Dr. Frank Williams signed the agreement.
Afterward, Reed presented Nevárez a framed cover of the Dec. 4 issue of The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, which features the University president on the cover and accompanying story inside.
"We're delighted to have this agreement," Reed said. "The main purpose is to facilitate the movement of our students so that students who complete an associate's degree at STCC will be able to go on and get a bachelor's degree from UTPA."
To prepare students for the next level in their education, Nevárez said the institutions will provide equivalent courses that fulfill degree requirements. Students must have earned a grade of "C" or better for the course to transfer.
"The unique thing about this agreement is we're making the courses at STCC and UTPA as equivalent as possible," Nevárez said. "The instruction is going to be the same. The outcomes are going to be the same. The preparation of students for the next sequence of courses is going to be the same."
As per the agreement, junior-level standing at UTPA will be granted to students completing an associate degree program at STCC. The degree will substitute for the freshman and sophomore years of the UTPA baccalaureate degree program, up to 66 credit hours.
If an STCC student has not obtained an associate degree, UTPA will accept the completed general education core curriculum. However, students completing STCC's core requirement will need an additional three credit hours to satisfy UTPA's core requirement.
"This is going to help students move from one institution to another much easier than they had before, and our curriculums are more aligned with each other," Arevalo said. "Ultimately, it is going to benefit students and make it more cooperative in the pipeline from high school to community college to the university."
This articulation agreement will be reviewed annually, and additional agreements will be provided regularly to students on both campuses as transfer guides during academic advising. Department-to-department meetings also will be set up between the two institutions at least once a year, and UTPA will provide STCC an annual report on the achievements of students who transferred to the University.
UTPA recruiters and faculty will be able to visit the STCC campus at least once a semester to explain degree programs and recruit students whose programs of study fall within the articulation agreement. Faculty exchanges are also possible, Nevárez said.