HAMLET — Richmond Community College students will have an easier transition to Wingate University after the two colleges formalized their second agreement on Wednesday.
dr Dale McInnis, President of RichmondCC, and Dr. Rhett Brown, President of Wingate, signed the Gateway to Wingate Partnership in the lobby of the Cole Auditorium.
McInnis said when Wingate officials inquired about the opportunity, “we immediately took it.”
“This isn’t just about our students today,” McInnis said. “It’s about our future students and creating an expectation and an opportunity for students in Richmond and Scotland County schools to know what’s ahead of them, what potential they can have and that it’s not that far away – neither in terms of distance nor cost.”
According to Google Maps — which McInnis joked “is never wrong” — the travel time between the two campuses is 52 minutes.
“We are committed…to making sure that when our students enroll with you, they are fully prepared, they are ready to succeed,” added McInnis. “And this agreement ensures that they are taking the right courses and that our advisors can give them the right plan.”
Prior to the signing, Wingate Provost Dr. Jeff Frederick on what it means to be a neighbor.
“A neighbor is someone who makes us stronger in numbers, whose interests align with our own, and whose improvement makes us stronger as well,” Frederick said. “Across the country, public and private education have sometimes focused primarily on their fences, not so much on their neighbors, and especially not on their shared interests of being good neighbors.”
History between the two colleges, Frederick continued, is different.
“Our story today is good neighbors building a gate to break down fences so we can work together toward our common goal of creating a transformative, capacity-building gateway to degrees, into a bright future for students of all types in the greater Richmond County area. “
The agreement will make it easier for RichmondCC graduates to earn a bachelor’s degree from Wingate at an affordable price, Frederick said.
With the Gateway Agreement, each community college degree will be transferred to Wingate and students will be eligible for a stipend up to a cost of no more than $2,500 per year, according to Kevin Parsons, RichmondCC vice president of instruction and chief academic officer .
“That’s a hell of a deal for Wingate training,” Parsons said. “We are very happy about it.”
According to Brown, funding for the scholarship comes from federal assistance, the North Carolina Need-Based Scholarship, and donor support.
Brown, who began his tertiary education at a two-year college, said during his tenure at Wingate, the Union County private college “reinforced our commitment to creating the best possible pathways to make post-secondary education more attainable.”
Citing state statistics, Brown said that next year 67% of North Carolina jobs will require a post-secondary degree or high-quality credentials — but only 49% of residents between the ages of 25 and 44 have that level of education.
“We can close the gap, but only if we work together,” Brown said.
Already the independent university of choice for Richmond County students, Wingate said, and later named several students who have taken the path and are now enjoying successful careers.
“That’s why we’re excited to be working with RCC to give more students the support they need to prepare for the careers they want,” Brown continued. “Together, we can help students overcome the hurdles that may be holding them back — whether it’s the cost of higher education or the worry that … they don’t have the credits to transfer them.”
RichmondCC and Wingate previously established a path for the Doctor of Pharmacy program at the university. Parsons said there are two students who started in Richmond, transferred to Wingate and are now pharmacists.
Both Frederick and McInnis said the hope is that the students will return to Richmond County and enrich the community.
“Because if we don’t nurture local talent, we’re going to keep fighting,” McInnis said.
McInnis is also hopeful about future agreements between the two colleges “to make potential futures a reality.”