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In the Know: Collaboration at its best

Transfer from two-year colleges to four-year colleges and universities has not always been seamless. Many potential transfer students have had to overcome a variety of barriers even with the usual general education courses, such as English composition, speech, algebra, etc. Whatever the barriers were, Minnesota State, which consists of 24 two-year colleges and seven four-year universities, developed the Central Minnesota Baccalaureate Initiative with four of the two-year colleges and three of the state universities. Alexandria Technical and Community College is pleased to be one of the initial partners in this great program, along with Central Lakes College, Pine Technical and Community College, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Minnesota State University Moorhead, St. Cloud State University, and Southwest Minnesota State University. Future four-year partners may also be added, which will expand access to those students interested in obtaining a four-year degree.

While many of ATCC graduates may not intend to obtain a four-year degree, the Central Minnesota Baccalaureate Initiative will enable interested students graduating from ATCC to transfer and complete an online or on-campus four-year degree within the Minnesota State System. The two-year colleges, such as ATCC, participating in the initiative are located more than 60 miles from a four-year institution. This distance often creates barriers to access and success. The primary goal of this initiative is to increase higher education attainment rates across rural regions of the state by providing face-to-face access to our state universities.

For many students, especially working adults, moving or relocating to an area with a four-year institution is not possible because of economic constraints, family situations, lack of transportation and daycare. Creating a "University Center" at ATCC will provide consistent access to representatives from the three participating universities. The university representatives will advise students in completing the appropriate associates degree prior to transfer and provide needed assistance with applications, financial aid and registration at the four-year institution. The representatives will work with ATCC student services staff and will be included in ATCC events and processes, which will facilitate relationship building.

This unique partnership will not only provide navigational support to ATCC graduates wanting to transfer or continue on, but will do so with ATCC becoming their "home" campus if they enroll in one of the fully online university degree programs. The representatives from the three Minnesota State universities will be on the ATCC campus twice a month initially and then on a regular basis starting late fall or early spring. More information will be provided when days and times are established.

On a different note, I want to take this opportunity to mention that the death of Dr. Ken Ryan in a flying accident was a loss to not only his family and the community, but to ATCC as well. Ken began his 20-year teaching career at ATCC with the mechatronics program and eventually taught biology and anatomy and physiology courses. He was always upbeat, forward thinking, respected by his colleagues, and loved his students. He will be missed by all who knew him.

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Laura Urban is the president of the Alexandria Technical and Community College. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.