HBCU partnership announced between Washtenaw Community College, Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Southern University at New Orleans

Comprehensive pathway guarantees admission opens in-state tuition, provides ongoing student support throughout transfer process

ANN ARBOR, Michigan (Oct. 12, 2021) – Washtenaw Community College (WCC), Jackson State University (JSU), Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) and Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) today announced a partnership creating a pathway to success for students transferring associate degrees.

Announced ahead of National Transfer Student Week (Oct. 18-22), today’s news marks the first comprehensive agreement – with benefits such as guaranteed admission and access to in-state tuition – between a Michigan two-year school and a Historically Black College & University (HBCU).

The Washtenaw Community College HBCU Pathway program creates opportunities for student success and transfers equity by providing a clear, direct, affordable and supportive pathway for community college students to attend HBCUs.

In addition to guaranteeing admission to JSU, MVSU and SUNO for WCC students who successfully complete requirements, the partnership opens access to in-state tuition and scholarships and waives application fees. The new initiative also provides student support and mentoring from staff, faculty and HBCU alumni, arranges college tours at HBCUs, and hosts community-building activities, monthly career workshops and a student leadership summit.

Transfer agreements with other HBCUs will soon be announced.

Representatives from JSU, MVSU and SUNO will discuss the partnership and transfer information during a panel session hosted by WCC next week during National Transfer Student Week. Current and prospective WCC students and families, as well as members of the community, are invited to register to attend the virtual session from 6-7:30 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, Oct. 20.

“Creating a pipeline for student success is essential to our mission, and it starts with access, nurturing students with big dreams and helping them realize the opportunities to further their education. Our new HBCU pathway is designed to support students from high school through community college and then through completion of their bachelor’s degree,” said WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca. “We are excited to announce our first HBCU partnerships with Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State and Southern University in New Orleans.”

The three HBCUs are rich in history with an extensive offering of undergraduate and graduate programs, including those in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

“Our new partnership with Washtenaw Community College will ensure that deserving students have a solid pathway to continue their education in a caring, encouraging environment that will enhance their skills in their chosen fields of interest,” said JSU President Thomas K. Hudson, J.D. “I look forward to watching these students matriculate to obtain their bachelor’s degrees and beyond.”

Located in Jackson, Miss., JSU was originally founded in 1877 as a seminary and today has grown into a comprehensive urban research university offering a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, including at the doctorate level.

“We here at MVSU are so excited to join in partnership with Washtenaw Community College. Having a pathway for students to transfer seamlessly between our institutions shows our mutual commitment to student success and further supports the importance of higher education achievement. We look forward to starting and building on this tremendous opportunity,” said MVSU President Dr. Jerryl Briggs.

Located in Itta Bena, Miss., MVSU held its first classes in 1950, originally to train rural and elementary teachers and to provide vocational education, and now offers comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs in education, the arts and sciences, and professional studies.

“We are excited to partner with Washtenaw Community College and also pleased to be one of the three HBCUs to create opportunities for student success,” said Dr. James H. Ammons, Jr., SUNO Executive Vice President-Chancellor. “This is also a great way for Southern University at New Orleans to expand its footprint in the Michigan region. Students will have an impeccable transfer experience from WCC to SUNO to enroll in our undergraduate degree programs and also matriculate to our graduate programs.”

Located in New Orleans, SUNO was founded as a branch unit of Southern University and Agricultural & Mechanical College in Baton Rouge in 1956 and offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts and sciences, business and public administration, education and human development, and social work.

One of the benefits of the new HBCU transfer pipeline is that it offers an attractive return on investment for college students and families. With a $2,280 average annual full-time in-district tuition, WCC already provides an affordable start to a college education.

“This is the perfect opportunity for me. Having the close-knit community and support services that both WCC and HBCUs offer for biology majors like myself is very important. I’m excited because I know HBCUs provide such a phenomenal impact on STEM students,” said WCC’s Alexia Easley, of Ypsilanti, Mich., who graduated from Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School in 2020.

DeVaughn Swanson knows the value of great opportunities an HBCU education provides. The former WCC student transferred to Morehouse College in Atlanta in 2008. He graduated from Morehouse in 2012 and is now a Detroit attorney and Ypsilanti pastor.

“WCC prepared me for Morehouse College by offering rigorous courses and practical student leadership opportunities. I think this partnership is a dynamic idea and further proves that WCC is committed to ensuring the future success of all WCC students. This partnership gives students interested in HBCUs something to look forward to and work toward. A person who has been educated at WCC and an HBCU is destined to make a positive impact on the world,” Swanson said.

WCC’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion led development of the alliance to provide additional pathways to success for the college’s diverse student population and is planning high school outreach events to highlight the new HBCU agreements as well as programming and support for WCC students planning to transfer to an HBCU Partner.

For more information, please visit www.wccnet.edu/engage/diversity/hbcu-pathway.php or email diversity@wccnet.edu.

About Washtenaw Community College

Washtenaw Community College (WCC), Ann Arbor, Mich., educates students through a wide range of associate and certificate programs in areas such as health care, business, STEM and advanced transportation and mobility. WCC offers accelerated and online programs and is ranked the number one community college in Michigan, according to schools.com. WCC is committed to student success, with nearly 70% of students intending to transfer to complete a bachelor degree. The college also works through community, business and union partnerships to develop highly specialized training programs to meet the region’s workforce talent needs.

For more information about Washtenaw Community College, visit www.wccnet.edu.

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