Ogeechee Technical College students can now be Georgia Southern University students at the same time. Ogeechee Tech voices will even be added to the Southern Chorale.
OTC President Dr. Dawn Cartee and GSU President Dr. Brooks Keel signed an agreement Thursday for a pilot project, which will allow a limited number of Ogeechee Tech students to take any of three classes at Georgia Southern. But this agreement is a first for the two schools, and their presidents say it is a step toward further agreements that will allow students who earn two-year degrees from Ogeechee Tech to continue for four-year degrees from Georgia Southern.
"This is an exciting day as Georgia Southern University and Ogeechee Technical College formalize a collaboration that we expect will be the first of many additional joint projects," Cartee said in a statement released to reporters.
The initiative is being called a pilot project to leave both schools free to decide whether to continue, she said after the brief signing ceremony at the Marvin Pittman Administration Building on Georgia Southern's campus. But Cartee believes it will be an ongoing program. Students have expressed interest.
"We have really not put anyone in classes yet or scheduled anything until we made this announcement, but we have had a lot of interest in it," she said.
Cartee hopes that the university courses for Ogeechee Tech students will begin summer session, she said. She expects that about 30 students will sign up at first, but noted that if enough apply early so that the college can forward their information, the university is willing to add more class sections.
The agreement provides for up to 100 seats in a GSU course called Healthful Living, up to 50 seats in Career Exploration, and up to 50 seats in a University Singers and Southern Chorale course. Students in that class would participate in the corresponding music groups, "as approved" by the GSU Music Department, the agreement states.
Healthy Living is a health and wellness course popular with GSU freshmen. Career Exploration is designed to help students choose a career and a university major.
For the music course, the request came from Ogeechee Tech students.
"We actually had a group of Ogeechee Tech students who expressed interest in our chorale ...," Keel said after the ceremony. "So I think it's a great example of the breadth of things that Georgia Southern can offer and how we could seamlessly merge that and mesh that with the outstanding offerings that Ogeechee Tech has."
Ogeechee Tech students who take Georgia Southern classes will pay tuition specific for the number of credit hours, plus required fees. In-state tuition and required fees are $414.93 for one credit hour and $584.86 for two hours.
Access to activities
Ogeechee Tech students who want to participate in Georgia Southern student activities, such as attending football games and using the Recreation Activity Center, will have to pay a slate of "other fees" totaling $656. This is the same amount charged East Georgia State College's Statesboro campus students for their access to GSU services.
Under the agreement, OTC students will pay the fee only if they want the services.
"These Ogeechee Technical College students will also be a part of the Georgia Southern University community and will have access to advantages offered by the University," Dr. Ryan Foley, Ogeechee Tech's vice president for student affairs, said in the news release.
Last spring, Ogeechee Tech obtained full regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. This is the same accreditation held by University System of Georgia schools, which makes credits for a number of OTC courses transferable to Georgia Southern. A list is available through the "Transfer Course Equivalencies" database on the GSU website.
Credits from the three GSU courses in the new agreement — two hours each for the health and career classes and one hour for the singing class — would count toward graduation requirements, but not toward a specific major.
However, officials are working on articulation agreements that will allow all the credits for some degrees from Ogeechee Tech to lead directly into Georgia Southern degree programs.
"It would be like a two-plus-two," Cartee said after the ceremony. "(Students) would take their two years with us through our associate degree and then the final two years at Georgia Southern and continue on if they would like to move forward with a master's or a doctorate."
Keel mentioned two subject areas as possibilities. One is logistics, for which the university already has an articulation agreement with Savannah Tech.
The other is manufacturing engineering.
"We're just getting ready to really roll out a whole manufacturing engineering program, and that's going to be a fantastic opportunity for Ogeechee Tech and its students, and for what they have to offer there to be able to articulate into our bachelor's degree program in manufacturing," Keel said.
He and Cartee said they expect to make a further announcement soon.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.