Proving the hundreds of miles between them is no obstacle, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, UW–Platteville and Nicolet College will join forces per an articulation agreement signed last week.
The three institutions of higher learning will award an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree, otherwise known as a University Transfer Liberal Arts degree, to qualifying students.
UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis J. Shields, Southwest Tech President Dr. Duane M. Ford and Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster signed the agreement on the UW–Platteville campus Wednesday morning.
“We are thrilled at this prospect and all the opportunities it provides us,” said UW–Platteville Provost Mittie Nimocks Den Herder as she welcomed those in attendance.
Students earning the University Transfer Liberal Arts degree at Nicolet College will be eligible to have all credits transfer and meet the UW–Platteville general education requirements, with the exception of ethnic and gender studies.
Southwest Tech students will complete a year of coursework through the Fennimore campus and a subsequent year through Nicolet College classes taught face-to-face on the Fennimore campus, enabling the student to remain in southwest Wisconsin instead of attending the Nicolet College campus in Rhinelander.
After the completion of the “1+1” program, students are awarded the Transfer Liberal Arts Associates degree. Students who maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average in the program will be guaranteed admission to UW–Platteville.
“One of the things that all three of our institutions have in common is we are points of access to higher education in Wisconsin,” said Shields. “Many of our students that come are first-generation college students. Working together with institutions like Nicolet and Southwest Tech is part of our DNA at Platteville.
“This articulation agreement I think expands on the opportunity for us to serve those populations. The ability to get a bachelor’s degree working through our three institutions, staying close to home, gaining access to higher education, is what we are all about.”
In recent years, Ford discovered 125 students, residents of the Southwest Tech district, were pursuing a university Transfer Associates of Arts or Associates of Science degree at a different Wisconsin Technical College or adjoining states’ community college.
“We thought it would be a good idea to arrange for these students to have a local opportunity to complete that degree, and frankly, also serve to serve students who would probably love to follow that same pathway, but simply cannot move,” said Ford.
A discussion between Ford and Burmaster at a higher education conference was the impetus of the freshly signed articulation agreement.
“We are all about creating career pathways, which is really nothing more than pathways for students to follow throughout their life and their career to advance their learning, to get better and better, and to learn more and more competencies, to get more credentials to succeed in their life and their work,” said Ford. “By signing this agreement we are stacking one more path, one more opportunity, on top of the associates degree that we will be doing. Those students will now be able to come directly to UW–Platteville and work toward a bachelor’s degree.
“It works out extremely well for all involved. I think by partnering, by leveraging our resources and our unique missions, we can do much for our citizens without adding costs to the people who support us.”
The goal of the new agreement is to retain qualified southwest Wisconsin candidates who depart the district for other, approved transfer opportunities, such as the 125 students Ford has identified.
“This is all about student success, isn’t it? All three of us, as education leaders, but more importantly, all of the wonderful faculty, staff and administration that put this together,” said Burmaster. “This is very, very good for students. Students of all ages, students with all different educational experiences.”
UW–Platteville has 16 articulation agreements in place in Wisconsin, 15 in Iowa and 48 in Illinois. UW–Platteville recognizes associate degrees from all 13 UW two-year colleges plus Nicolet and the Madison and Milwaukee technical colleges. The Nicolet agreement is now in its 10th year.
More than 500 students on the UW–Platteville campus began their secondary education somewhere else before coming to UW–Platteville. Of those 500, 137 earned associate degrees from one of those 76 two-year colleges of which we have articulation agreements.
Might this most recent collaboration open the door for future partnerships between UW–Platteville, Southwest Tech and Nicolet College?
“It is an interesting thing,” said Shields. “We sometimes get criticized because we don’t have these things going on. When people take a closer look, there is a lot more effort to provide the opportunity to coordinate than is immediately obvious.
“We don’t see ourselves competing, but working together, so there will always be an opportunity.”
Eileen McGuine of UW–Platteville University Information and Communications contributed to this report.