Laura Monks, Director
MTSU Partnership With Lincoln Co.
MTSU Degree Opportunities at the Fayetteville Center
Partnering with other colleges, school systems, counties and chambers of commerce, Middle Tennessee State University is taking higher education on the road throughout middle Tennessee so that citizens can obtain or finish their college degree and contribute in even greater ways to the economic vitality of their communities and the state.
Lincoln County is the newest county partnering for the educational benefit of its citizens.
Officials on the Motlow State Community College campus in Lincoln County are also part of this newest Strategic Partnership and have offered dedicated space that will be used by academic advisers and financial-aid experts from both MSCC and MTSU to create a smooth application process for enrollees who want to complete their baccalaureate degree through MSCC's local campus and MTSU's Adult Degree Completion Program. Together they are already exploring assistance in the form of scholarships, internships and matching-fund programs, among others.
"The idea behind these strategic partnerships is to establish a mechanism that provides quality educational opportunities to as broad an audience as possible, which is what MTSU is all about," said Dr. David Gotcher, director of academic outreach and distance learning at MTSU. "We're focusing particularly on adult learners, those people whose life experiences have taken them beyond that of just being out of high school."
Gotcher said everyone understands the value of education when they talk about the connection between education attainment and individual economic attainment as well as economic development. "Community leaders become stakeholders with a vested interest in making sure their citizens can take advantage of these opportunities," he noted.
"We are extremely excited about the partnership between our Fayetteville-Lincoln County Motlow Center and MTSU," Lincoln County Mayor Peggy Bevels, said. "This will enable our community the availability of educational opportunities that have never been offered. If you are really serious about getting an educational degree, you do not have to leave Fayetteville Lincoln County."
Mayor Bevels also credited Motlow director Dr. Laura Monks and her staff for their hard work and dedication to the education "of all students regardless of age."
Gwen Shelton, mayor of Fayetteville, added that an area's economy is no longer defined simply by its political boundaries of city, county or state. "Economies are defined regionally by a diverse group of industries supported by factors such as infrastructure investment and an availability of local talent. This regional concept promotes partnerships among key community players."
"The civic and corporate leaders of Lincoln County understand the value of education and are willing to help create a means to encourage their citizens and aid in their academic progress," commented Dr. L. Diane Miller, interim executive vice president and provost at MTSU. "We're excited to be a part of it."
Gotcher says these partnerships work because MTSU in partnership with community colleges like Motlow provides the high-quality academic programs and technical expertise, and the county entities provide such things as emotional support and a pat on the back for the students. "Once they come to the point of decision and have decided to go back and finish their degree, we have to keep them going on track, motivated and encouraged."
Dr. Mike Boyle, Dean of the College of Continuing Studies and Distance Learning agrees, attributing the success of MTSU's Adult Degree Completion Program to the fact that it is malleable-courses can be fit around a person's daily responsibilities. "It's wonderful to see how those individuals and agencies that play such a critical role in the leadership of Lincoln County and its cities are getting behind this program."
Students will be able to do coursework with a combination of classroom and online study. Gotcher says he would like to kick off the program with a cohort of 15 to 25 students who become a close-knit group throughout their educational experience.
"We want to stand behind them and push them and root for them," Gotcher said. "What we would like to do is find a source to fund this first group of students in an initial course that they would take together."
The delivery of education in these strategic partnerships could take many forms over time, Gotcher said, as officials look at compressed-learning programs, accelerated courses of study and even awarding academic credit for certain types of training and experiences.