OCtech-USC’s Palmetto College sign agreement

T&D Staff Writer

Photo of Palmetto College, OCtech officials at agreement signing
Signing the agreements are, from left, Dr. James “Jimmie” Williamson, president of the S.C. Technical College System; Dr. Susan Elkins, chancellor of Palmetto College; and Dr. Walt Tobin, president of OCtech.
Photo by Larry Hardy/T&D

An agreement signed Thursday will help Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College students transfer their courses to the online bachelor’s degree programs offered through the University of South Carolina.

OCtech students will now be able to transfer to online degree completion programs offered by USC-Columbia, USC-Aiken, USC-Beaufort and USC-Upstate.

The areas of study included in the agreement are business administration (USC-Aiken), criminal justice (USC-Upstate), elementary education (USC-Columbia), human services (USC-Beaufort), liberal studies (USC-Columbia), nursing (USC-Upstate) and organizational leadership (USC-Columbia).

In addition, an agreement has been put in place for health promotion (USC-Beaufort).

The criminal justice programs and nursing programs are already in place. The others will be effective for the fall of 2016.

The memorandum of understanding was signed on the campus of OCtech Thursday by OCtech President Dr. Walt Tobin, S.C. Technical College System President Dr. James “Jimmie” Williamson and Palmetto College Chancellor Dr. Susan Elkins.

The Palmetto College of USC is an online bachelor’s completion program of the university.

The agreement was described as a “perfect marriage” by officials.

Tobin said the memorandum is a part of a two-year labor of love and will serve as a model for the technical college system.

He says the college has already placed a lot of emphasis on dual enrollment in an effort to get high school students ready for college before they graduate from high school.

OCtech is the first technical college in the state to roll out the agreement.

“This is another opportunity to show that pathway from high school to two-year to four-year to masters,” Tobin said. “We have created a pathway in all of our career tech programs as well as transfer pathways to create those opportunities for our students both as high school, middle college and traditional college students at this institution. It is a good marriage. I am looking forward to this relationship.”

Elkins said the agreement provides greater access, flexibility and affordability for students with an associate degree to pursue their bachelor’s. Students will earn an associate degree prior to transferring into Palmetto College.

“They can have access to this degree from anytime, anyplace,” Elkins said.

Working with an advisor, students will create an academic roadmap that ensures all courses taken at OCtech will count toward their chosen field of study through Palmetto College.

The memorandum of understanding notes the three parties, “express their commitment to the national goal of increasing the percentage of American citizens with university credentials.”

“By offering programs that are accessible, affordable and flexible, the three parties provide the citizens of the state of South Carolina with higher education opportunities for degree attainment,” the memorandum states. “Local citizens who attend a technical college campus can now remain local and complete their online bachelor’s degree conveniently in their own communities.”

“As new programs emerge, the parties pledge to encourage, facilitate and support new program articulation agreements,” the MOU continues.

South Carolina Technical College System President James C. Williamson said the transfer agreement is modeled on a system used in Virginia in an effort to help reduce higher education regulations and mandates.

“This continuum of education is really, really important and that fact that we support each other and support students that move through this continuum is really of paramount importance,” Williamson said.

Williamson praised USC President Dr. Harris Pastides for helping propel the transfer program forward.

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