Strong ties with community colleges remain a top priority for the University of Wyoming, and continuing collaboration gives students an easier chance at a four-year degree.

The seven Wyoming community colleges — Casper College, Central Wyoming College, Eastern Wyoming College, Laramie County Community College, Northwest College, Northern Wyoming Community College District and Western Wyoming Community College — have worked with UW for nearly two years to create easy, simple transfer programs for students.

Nearly all transfer programs for 17 disciplines are complete. Majors like English or elementary education are supported by all seven community colleges while many others are nearly complete.

“The ‘big 17’ are our highest demand programs that cover about 50 percent of the students that are transferring in the University of Wyoming,” she said. “In some other spots, we are in the final stages, literally — we’re just dotting some I’s and crossing some T’s and getting some signatures. We are very, very close.”

Some community college programs required more than 64 credit hours before transferring. Noel worked to reduce these down to a reasonable number.

“We said we would not articulate a program because it was not appropriate or fair to as student because it would lengthen their time in that associate program and their completion of a four-year degree,” she said.

The university is working with a new set of 18 programs, introduced in October, including another 20 percent of all transfer students.

Other programs not on the lists are also being considered, Noel said, as community colleges think they are important for students, such as Spanish.

Some departments are also taking an initiative.

For example, the College of Business pieced out their program into separate focuses like management or finance, giving students a more specialized head start rather than a broad overview.

Right now, speed is the key — many staff members at community colleges leave during the summer months.

“We know that summer is not a great time for articulation — many of our community college colleagues are gone for the summer, so we really have to push in February and March to get those things completed,” Noel said.

Another focus is keeping these transfer plans relevant into the future and get everyone on board with the idea.

“I think the deans get it, I think people statewide get it and I think everybody in Old Main gets it, but as department heads turn over, they need to think of transfer articulation as maybe the number one priority in terms of statewide engagement and to develop that culture is going to take some work,” Hagy said.

Hagy said the incoming UW President Laurie Nichols has a stake in the transfer programs and asked current UW President Dick McGinity to compile a briefing of the efforts.

The UW Board of Trustees continues to voice support for the program.

“I think the enthusiasm that’s been generated has been phenomenal, and the relationships are just continuing to get better and better,” Trustee Dave Bostrom said “That’s what we need in Wyoming and at the University of Wyoming.”

In return, Hagy said herself and Noel will continue the work and bring results.

“We’re going to have to keep delivering on our promise,” she said. “It’s going to take a lot of work and it’s going to take focus, and I cannot commend President McGinity and (the trustees) with the scorecard — holding our feet to the fire. You’ve done a great job, and we’re just trying to do our job in return.”

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