MILLEDGEVILLE — Two local schools solidified a partnership Tuesday geared at creating new opportunities and flexibility for area students to reap post-secondary rewards.
Officials from Central Georgia Technical College and Georgia College signed off on a formal agreement to explore new avenues for students to transition from one school to the other more seamlessly as they pursue their education.
CGTC President Dr. Ivan Allen and GC President Dr. Steve Dorman were joined on the local CGTC campus by Ron Jackson, Technical College System of Georgia commissioner, in making the announcement.
Jackson said the local agreement and similar plans across the state are offshoots of Gov. Nathan Deal’s ambitious directive to add 250,000 additional college graduates over current levels to Georgia’s population by 2020. To see the governor’s goal come to fruition, Georgia schools must streamline the process and move students through higher education systems more quickly, he said.
Without decreasing the educational value, simply put, students must have increased opportunities to get more bang for their buck.
Said Jackson: “We have to make sure that students get out of college quicker. It doesn’t matter where [students] start or where they go … it’s the right thing to do for students.”
And as the students benefit, so too does the state’s economic development outlook.
“We are such a critical player in economic development,” he said of the technical college system, adding that in order to lure business and industry local communities must demonstrate they have the workforce chops to retain employees that are the right fit.
He said of Deal’s plan to bolster college graduate numbers: “It’s a heavy lift and everybody’s got to pull the boat in the same direction.”
Hank Griffith, CGTC vice president of satellite operations, said the three local colleges present unique opportunities for such development.
“We are in a very enviable position here in Baldwin County,” said Griffith. “We need to capitalize on that.”
By generating avenues for students to obtain credits faster, they won’t have to repeat courses when they transition from a technical college to a four-year school or vice versa. Associate degree programs from CGTC will soon more easily transition into four-year programs like those at GC or any other university around the state.
Jackson and University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Hank Huckaby and their respective boards are working on fostering similar partnerships between other schools.
GC’s president echoed the sentiments on behalf of the USG, adding that he and Allen are exploring pilot programs to make it a reality locally.
“The chancellor and the commissioner have desires for both systems to work together,” said Dorman.
Milledgeville was the final leg of Jackson’s tour across the CGTC service area, which since its merger last summer with Middle Georgia Technical College includes a large swath of the midstate area.
Jackson, who was named commissioner in 2008, said the TCSG has worked hard to shed its vocational and trade school moniker and now technical colleges are viewed in a higher, more diversified regard.
The technical college system awarded 35,000 college credentials in 2012 and has produced 28,000 graduates thus far this year. Already, 27 core technical college courses, available at all but two TCSG schools, are transferable to any four-year school in the state.
New doors are opening thanks to partnerships like the one announced Tuesday, he said.
“It doesn’t matter where you get your credentials, you’ve just got to get them. We’ve all got to work in this together.”
While there is no timeline for the process state benchmarks will be established to push the governor’s plan along, according to Jackson. Year-to-year tracking will be conducted for each of the newly established partnerships.
Allen said there is great synergy forming for surrounding students with more options and new opportunities to retain homegrown graduates.
“For every person in Baldwin County the promise remains,” he said. “Live here, work here and pay taxes here.”
VIDEO: CGTC and GC sign an articulation agreement.