4-year degrees coming to Easley with new SWU-TCTC partnership

Tri-County Technical College president Dr. Ronnie Booth, left, and Southern Wesleyan University president Dr. Todd Voss exchange paperwork for a partnership between the two schools at TCTC’s Easley campus last Thursday.


By Nicole Daughhetee

Courier Staff

EASLEY — What began as a casual conversation between Tri-County Technical College’s Dr. Brian Swords and Southern Wesleyan University’s Jim Shelton has evolved into a revolutionary partnership that will allow for local students to earn four-year degrees without ever having to leave Easley.

Beginning in the fall of 2013, students who have historically attend TCTC to earn a two-year degree will now have the opportunity to earn a four-year degree on the school’s Easley campus through a pair of programs offered by SWU.

Tri-County president Dr. Ronnie L. Booth and SWU president Dr. Todd Voss met last Thursday at Easley’s TCTC campus to sign paperwork and make the partnership official.

SWU will offer two degree programs: a Bachelor of Science in Human Services and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. The first classes for the BS in Human Services will begin in September 2013, and the BS in Business Administration will follow with a start date in January 2014.

“Our motivation for this partnership was ‘how do we best serve our students?,’ said Shelton, a regional director of recruiting services at SWU. “There is a large population of students (at TCTC) that are in the transfer program. Their goal is to matriculate somewhere. Some of those students were expressing a desire to stay here.

“There is a tremendous advantage for convenience for the local students, and there is an advantage for costs as well in terms of transportation and the room and board they might have to pay if they went elsewhere.”

Swords, the director of Tri-County’s Easley campus, is extremely pleased to have the opportunity to team with SWU.

“The uniqueness about it is it is bringing them to our campus and providing that four-year opportunity for this community,” he said. “We have been about taking the college to where people are, and now we’re bringing a four-year presence. Southern Wesleyan doesn’t have to build a separate facility in the area. It is a win-win for everyone.”

At Thursday’s event, Booth recalled his own experiences as a student having to transfer between universities.

“Students in Easley can start here and stay here,” the TCTC president said. “We are looking out for the best for our students and the best way we can meet their needs. When they are ready to take the next step, we can smooth that transition for them.”

Oftentimes when students transfer from one college to another it can be a nightmare: certain credits might not transfer or get lost entirely. Under the TCTC and SWU partnership, officials anticipate many of these problems will be alleviated because of the consistency students will have, especially in the area of academic advising.

The way the TCTC-SWU partnership is structured, it should take students approximately two and a half years to complete the bachelor degree, officials said. Course completion will follow a cohort model in which students will participate in a succession of six-week long courses that are held one night per week — a structure that allows students to maintain employment during the day.

“We find that most of our students do work, need to work, have to work,” said Swords. “That is the convenience of this. Tri-County caters to and works with those students. The seamless transfer to a four-year program is what makes this program so unique.”

There are currently no goals to expand the program beyond the Easley location; however, the success of the program could certainly serve as a future model for similar programs and partnerships.

While there has been informal discussion of expanding degree program offerings, right now Shelton and Swords both agree that the primary focus of the TCTC-SWU partnership is making the new program on Easley’s campus a hugely successful one.