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President’s Corner: A Unique Transfer Agreement

At Old Dominion University, we understand the value of partnerships and combining resources to maximize our reach. In the latest instance, we have partnered with other higher education institutions, and the main beneficiaries will be the students and the commonwealth.

Last month, I and the presidents of Eastern Shore, Paul D. Camp, Thomas Nelson and Tidewater community colleges signed the Guaranteed Transfer Partnership Agreement. It is a unique arrangement not just in Virginia but across the nation.

The agreement facilitates transfer from two- to four-year schools, saving students time and money and allowing them to enter the workforce more quickly. Even those participants who may not be ready to attend Old Dominion will be able to start at one of the community colleges and transfer later to ODU if they meet academic requirements.

We're also calling this the Mobility Pass Program, with multiple meanings of the word "mobility." This agreement significantly advances our commitment to social mobility, smoothing the path to a degree for all students, some of whom may be the first in their families to pursue higher education. The results will benefit not just those students, but future generations and society as a whole.

The program also literally increases students' mobility. For instance, participants will be granted assistance if they want to find housing near Old Dominion. They also will be able to use ODU transportation to TCC's Norfolk campus. And they may take advantage of services and events on our campus, making them feel a part of the ODU community.

An unusual component of this agreement provides the possibility of a "reverse transfer." That means that students can transfer ODU credits back to their community colleges, allowing them to receive their associate degrees while they're enrolled in a bachelor's program at Old Dominion.

A recent example illustrates the benefits of this feature.

An adviser at Old Dominion noticed that a community college student could complete her associate degree by passing a CLEP exam. The student took and passed the exam and transferred that credit and others from ODU back to the community college, earning the associate degree. That saved her $3,000 in tuition and nine credit hours.

This type of innovation not only helps Virginia's students. It also strengthens Virginia's workforce and makes it more competitive.

Jim Shaeffer, the president of Eastern Shore Community College and a former dean at Old Dominion, described the program this way: "It's not a path with speed bumps. It is a path where you have an HOV lane."

We hope other institutions in Virginia and beyond follow our lead and help more students accelerate toward a degree and future success.

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