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New ODU/TCC Agreement Bridges the Gap Between Work Experience and College Degrees

By Megan Shearin

Thanks to a new transfer agreement between Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University, adult and non-traditional students can earn college credit for their knowledge, training and skills in the workplace.

The agreement will also address the growing needs of local business and industry partners by providing college credit to skilled workers who often need formal education to advance their careers.

Old Dominion Vice President for Student Engagement and Enrollment Services Ellen Neufeldt joined Edna Baehre-Kolovani, president of Tidewater Community College, at a signing ceremony May 21, formalizing connections in industrial technology between the institutions.

"Together with Old Dominion, we have taken an innovative approach to breaking down the barriers that often inhibit adult learners with significant technical skills from furthering their education," said President Baehre-Kolovani. "We've created an academic pathway that they can carry over to the doctorate level if they choose."

Students who earn TCC's Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies with a Specialization in Technical Supervision and have significant and documented occupational experience and technical training can seamlessly transition to Old Dominion's industrial technology major, offered through the Darden College of Education.

Ideal candidates include those who have completed registered apprenticeships, active duty and transitioning military, and employees of companies with highly structured and robust training programs.

"The agreement is proof of a productive academic partnership between the University and Tidewater Community College, focused on meeting community needs," said Old Dominion President John R. Broderick. "Equally important, this agreement will help adult learners and non-traditional students advance in the workplace and their careers."

Various businesses, industries and agencies, such as Virginia Natural Gas and its apprenticeship partners, approached TCC to explore how the college can help highly-skilled employees bridge the gap between professional expertise and formal education.

Daniel DeMarte, TCC executive vice president for academic and student affairs, said the new partnership will "allow TCC and ODU to recognize and reward individuals for their unique and significant work experiences in business and industry, the military and registered apprenticeship programs."

According to Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Austin Agho, eligible TCC graduates will now be able to "seamlessly transfer into the bachelor of science occupational and technical studies degree at Old Dominion University with an emphasis on industrial technology."

Kellie Sorey, TCC's associate vice president for academics, said those with documented technical skills and professional experience can receive nearly half of the associate degree with advanced standing credit, "putting them well on the way to completing the associate and bachelor degrees." ODU will accept all credits awarded by TCC, she said.

Tammi Dice, associate dean for undergraduate education at Old Dominion's Darden College of Education, added that the College "extends the benefits of higher education to corporations. Ultimately, students can minimize unnecessary coursework based on prior learning assessments, which allows them to re-enter the workforce with a degree sooner and with advanced skill," she said.

Jane S. Bray, dean of the ODU Darden College of Education, said the agreement with TCC represents "another way in which the College is ensuring that our programs and curriculum meet the future professional needs of all students and will help satisfy the growing demand for qualified management-oriented professionals."

The industrial technology agreement between TCC and ODU is the latest of many pathways easing the transition from an associate to a baccalaureate degree program.

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