During an August 2018 presentation to the Utah State Legislature Subcommittee for Higher Education Appropriations, Rep. Derrin Owens, the House Vice-Chair of the subcommittee asked Scott L Wyatt, President of Southern Utah University, the following question regarding the dual enrollment partnership between Southern Utah University and Southwest Technical College: “I love what I see . . . but why has it taken us until 2018 to get a model like this that really serves students of every background and need? Why has it taken so long?” President Wyatt responded, “Well, we’re in two different worlds, and it is too easy to say ‘we might lose tuition money, or we might lose students.’ So, if you were to look at each of our institutions, it is probably not in our best interest, but it is in the best interest of students - - so it’s hard!”
Although the last three words of this sentence were spoken in jest, it is in fact a great challenge to create a dual enrollment agreement between the two institutions that, despite being members of very similar governmental agencies with very similar purposes, do in fact operate in “two different worlds.”
This article details some of the creative solutions and new processes used in overcoming the obstacles faced in this “enrollment merger” between Southern Utah University and Southwest Technical College.
The planning and approval process for the new agreement began in April 2018, shortly after the MOU was signed. Steve Meredith, Assistant to the President for Planning and Effectiveness (and SUU’s Accreditation Liaison Officer) was assigned the task of coordinating the effort, with assistance from Gary Wixom, retired Associate Commissioner for Higher Education, and James Sage, Associate Provost. Because of the complexity of the process, a number of employee task forces were formed, including task forces for Articulation, the Dual Enrollment Process, Marketing and Orientation, Shared Benefits, and Student Fees. The work of these individuals and groups was vital to the success of the agreement.
During Fall 2018, students enrolled at STECH in Computer Science became the first students to be dually enrolled at SUU and STECH. The articulation agreement between SUU and STECH in Computer Science is the first fully- integrated, course-by-course articulation agreement approved between the institutions, and it served as a template for all the agreements that followed. In discussions between the two institutions and NWCCU, it was determined that this group of STECH students would serve as a “test group” for the dual enrollment process.
The faculty, staff and administration of both institutions spent an enormous amount of time and energy in the planning and approval phase of this agreement. The process that was undertaken to arrive at the agreement was challenging and required creative problem-solving. However, at all times, the focus was on what would be best for students and their academic progress. Both institutions are eagerly looking forward to the first full implementation of the agreement in Fall 2019, and we anticipate that the initial successes seen in the test group will be seen among the student body as a whole.
Originally published in The Beacon on March 1, 2019.
Steven Meredith Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management for Graduate and Online Programs
Specializing in graduate programs, online education, and innovative higher education