Officials from Fort Hays State University and Garden City Community College have approved another academic program to expand the 2-plus-2 Partnership between the two western Kansas schools.
"We are very pleased to have another opportunity to increase our service to GCCC students with this new agreement to provide a Bachelor of Social Work degree program," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president.
"We're glad to enter another partnership like this one, because it helps us meet our GCCC mission of assisting people in becoming positive contributors to society," said Dr. Joseph W. Emmons, GCCC interim president. "Social work is a vital and expanding career field, and it's important to address the social service needs here in southwest Kansas with well educated professionals."
The partnership was initially launched in February for early childhood and special education programs and was expanded in August to include Bachelor of Business Administration programs in hospitality management, human resource management, and management and marketing. In addition, approval is nearing completion for programs in business communication, business education and accounting. This newest agreement to provide the Bachelor of Social Work degree adds another dimension to the partnership.
"The FHSU Social Work Program faculty are excited to offer the students in southwest Kansas the option to enroll in the 2-plus-2 Partnership between FHSU and GCCC," said Judy Caprez, program director. "This plan makes for a smooth transition from GCCC to the FHSU Social Work Program on campus."
"The students will be transferring to a program in which students are achieving close to a 100-percent pass rate on the Bachelor of Social Work licensure exam and 100-percent employment placement in social work or human service positions following graduation," said Dr. Brett Zollinger, chair of the Department of Sociology and Social Work.
The Bachelor in Social Work degree is in high demand regionally and nationally. Employment in social work is projected to grow 16 percent through 2018, a rate that is significantly higher than the average for all occupations. The outlook for social workers in mental health and substance abuse fields is excellent as well, with predictions of 20-percent growth between 2008 and 2018. Importantly for western Kansas, social workers who specialize in the aging population or in rural areas will be in demand.
In the 2-plus-2 Partnership, students will be able to complete bachelor-level degrees in Garden City without the need to attend classes on the FHSU campus in Hays. The upper-level courses provided by FHSU will be available through its Virtual College, which offers course work using electronic distance learning technologies. Students will complete two years of GCCC courses -- four semesters of 15 to 17 credit hours each -- followed by four semesters of FHSU instruction of 15 credit hours per term.
"Like our university, GCCC prides itself on taking a forward-thinking approach to the way it educates and advises its students, so transfer students from GCCC find themselves at home in our programs at FHSU," President Hammond said.
"The 2-plus-2 Partnership is a remarkably good fit for GCCC and FHSU. "Some of the initial general education classes at GCCC will transfer directly to FHSU, including courses in English, college algebra, public speaking and others. The later-semester classes through GCCC and FHSU will prepare students with specific skills in their chosen areas of social work."
"This is a partnership that just makes sense," said Kevin Brungardt, GCCC dean of academics. "For placebound students who can't attend classes on the university campus in Hays, this literally brings a great new opportunity home."
GCCC is a key partner in a group of 11 community colleges that have joined with FHSU to provide advanced higher education opportunities to their students. They include Allen Community College (early childhood, special education); Barton Community College (early childhood, special education); Butler Community College (early childhood, special education); Cloud County Community College (early Childhood, special education); Colby Community College (early childhood, special education); Cowley County Community College (early childhood, special education); Dodge City Community College (early childhood, special education, B.B.A. in management and, soon, social work); Hutchinson Community College (all programs); Labette Community College (early childhood, special education); Pratt Community College (early childhood, special education); and Seward County Community College (early childhood, special Education).