WGU Tennessee Announces Partnership with Southwest Tennessee Community College

State-endorsed WGU Tennessee (http://tennessee.wgu.edu/) today announced a new partnership with Southwest Tennessee Community College that allows Southwest graduates and staff to receive application fee waivers and discounted tuition to the accredited, online university.

"We are enthusiastic about working with Southwest Tennessee Community College in the ongoing effort to help more people advance their education and improve their lives," said Dr. Kimberly K. Estep, WGU Tennessee chancellor. "This agreement is special in part because it represents the attainment of a major goal for WGU Tennessee: partnership with all 13 community colleges in the state."

Dr. Nathan Essex, president of Southwest Tennessee Community College, said because WGU Tennessee is designed to target people who attended but didn't finish college, community colleges can help add students to the pipeline. "Given what we're faced with as a state and a city, there's so much that everyone can do together," Essex said.

WGU Tennessee began forming partnerships with Tennessee's community college system shortly after launching in 2013, setting a goal to sign agreements with all 13 institutions in less than a year. With over 65 campuses across the state, the 13 community colleges play a vital role in the state's higher education infrastructure. Total statewide community college enrollments during the fall of 2013 neared 90,000, many of whom were adult students returning to school.

"Southwest Tennessee Community College has long been known for providing adult learners with quality higher education," Dr. Estep said. "This partnership with WGU Tennessee will offer Southwest graduates and staff an even more affordable pathway toward achieving the dream of earning a bachelor's degree."

Launched last July by Gov. Bill Haslam as part of his "Drive to 55" initiative, WGU Tennessee is a state-endorsed, nonprofit, online university aimed at expanding Tennesseans' access to higher education. Established to meet the needs of working adults who wish to complete a bachelor's or master's degree and advance their careers, WGU Tennessee was created through a partnership between the state of Tennessee and nationally recognized Western Governors University. WGU Tennessee is ideal for busy adults with family and job responsibilities.

Dr. Joanne Bassett, provost and executive vice president of Southwest Tennessee Community College, is enthusiastic about the partnership with WGU Tennessee. "We are very excited about this new opportunity for our students to complete a four-year degree after graduation from Southwest. We think this will be particularly appealing to adult students who can demonstrate through both work experience and prior college coursework that they have the requisite skills to complete a four-year degree in an abbreviated period of time," said Bassett.

The university is a pioneer in competency-based education, which measures learning rather than time spent in class. Students advance in their degree programs when they demonstrate mastery of course materials, allowing them to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. For many students, this makes it possible to accelerate and complete their degrees faster. Combined with a self-paced, online learning format that offers one-on-one mentor support, competency-based learning at WGU Tennessee provides the kind of flexibility busy adults need in order to earn their degrees.

WGU Tennessee's 50-plus accredited degree programs are designed in collaboration with councils of experts from industry and academia, ensuring that students graduate knowing what they need to know to be successful.


Photo caption: President Nathan Essex and Chancellor Kimberly K. Estep sign partnership agreement.