Representatives of Isothermal Community College and Western Carolina University met recently to sign two articulation agreements to smooth the path for ICC students transferring to WCU to earn their bachelor’s degrees in business or nursing.
ICC President Walter Dalton, WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher and other faculty and staff members from both institutions met in Spindale on March 12 for signing ceremonies for one agreement involving undergraduate programs in WCU’s College of Business and another agreement pertaining to WCU’s RIBN (Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses) Program.
The business agreement is the largest of its size and scope ever between a North Carolina community college and a member institution of the University of North Carolina system, officials said. It creates 56 pathways that ICC students can follow to transfer to WCU and earn a bachelor of science in business administration degree in one of these majors: accounting, business administration and law, computer information systems, entrepreneurship, finance, management, marketing or sport management, said Kim Alexander, ICC’s dean of business sciences.
Dalton said the pathways focus particularly on entrepreneurship and business creation, both of which are vitally important for the economy of the region. “Isothermal is very excited to be a part of it because of the community needs it will meet,” he said.
Belcher said the agreement is the result of much hard work involving the faculties at both institutions. “We at Western Carolina are proud of our participation in this effort, and we congratulate our friends at Isothermal for being the leaders in community college business education in North Carolina,” he said.
The RIBN agreement will allow students to be dually enrolled at Isothermal and WCU. Students will take classes at Isothermal for three years and earn their associate degree in nursing while also taking one class each semester online through WCU. Students will then complete their fourth year of classes and final requirements for their bachelor’s degrees in nursing through WCU’s Programs at Biltmore Park in Asheville.
Dalton said the nursing agreement is particularly important for areas around Spindale because an increasing number of hospitals are requiring nurses to have four-year degrees. “Without an agreement such as this, a shortage of nurses could become a problem, particularly in rural areas,” he said.
Belcher said WCU and some of its partners in the region started the RIBN program in 2008 as a way to increase the number of nurses with bachelor’s degrees, and the program has now spread across the state, with seven universities and 29 community colleges involved. Isothermal will be the 30th community college to participate, he said.
“We want to thank our friends at Isothermal for partnering with us in this nursing agreement, remembering that the bottom line is all about increasing career opportunities for the people of the region while helping boost the quality of life for everyone,” he said.
The March 12 gathering in Spindale also included a reception for WCU alumni from that area and a musical performance by Belcher and his wife, Susan Belcher.