- Published on Monday, 26 November 2012 19:27
The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College will devise a simpler path to a college degree for military service men and women and their families, veterans and civilian personnel.
The strategy is particularly important considering El Paso is home to Fort Bliss, an Army base with 38,589 active duty members, 1,253 reservists, 39,422 family members and 13,079 civilian personnel assigned to it.
With a $645,000 planning grant for each institution from The Kresge Foundation, UTEP and EPCC will become part of a network of public two- and four-year higher education campuses near military bases in the United States. This network will facilitate the transfer of course credits and articulation of degree programs to help military and civilian personnel complete their 2- and 4-year degrees.
The grant also will “build the infrastructure to automate degree transfers, and simplify degree auditing and planning for students,” according to Christy Ponce, Ph.D., EPCC executive director of foundation and development. In addition to military personnel, the improved technology systems and support structures will benefit other students in the El Paso region as well.
When military personnel and support staff transfer from base to base, credit for college courses they have taken doesn’t always transfer when they re-enroll at another campus. The Kresge Foundation grant will help UTEP and EPCC set up a system to change that situation.
By examining which military bases typically transfer personnel to Fort Bliss, UTEP has identified a number of public higher education institutions across the United States as potential collaborators to create a network for military and civilian personnel to transfer credits seamlessly and finish a degree.
“The challenges of pursuing higher education while serving in the military have grown exponentially as the number and length of deployments increase,” said UTEP Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies Donna Ekal, Ph.D. “Civilian employees who serve and support this highly mobile population face similar challenges. The need for a cohesive and thoughtfully developed support system for this population is clear, and the timing could not be more appropriate to implement new programs.”
Under the grant awarded by The Kresge Foundation, UTEP and EPCC will spend the next 18 months building the network of colleges and universities and advancing technology systems to facilitate smooth transferability of students among the affiliated academic institutions.
ABOUT UTEP AND EPCC:
UTEP and EPCC have worked collaboratively for decades to provide educational opportunities for the historically underserved, predominately Hispanic population living in the Paso del Norte region. In 2003, the institutions received a $2.9 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education’s Developing Hispanic Institutions Initiative, which resulted in a formal articulation agreement and joint transfer programs to better serve regional students who were swirling between the two institutions. Since that time, UTEP and EPCC have integrated their student information systems; developed joint application and placement procedures; created course-to-course articulation agreements; and formalized a financial aid agreement, all of which are designed to move students successfully and expediently toward a degree. This collaborative approach to postsecondary education, premised simply on access to excellent higher education opportunities, is a nationally recognized model for institutions serving a rapidly changing student demographic.
ABOUT THE KRESGE FOUNDATION:
Based in metropolitan Detroit, The Kresge Foundation is a $3.1 billion private foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations through its support of nonprofit organizations working in its seven program areas: arts and culture, community development, Detroit, education, the environment, health, and human services. Fostering greater access to and success in postsecondary education for low-income, minority and first-generation college students is the focus of Kresge’s education grantmaking. In 2011, Kresge awarded more than $22 million in grants to support higher education in the United States and South Africa, with half benefiting U.S. community colleges. For more information, please visit the foundation website, www.kresge.org, or follow @kresgedu.