Home Local News RichmondCC, Wingate enter partnership to ease transfer for students seeking higher education

RichmondCC, Wingate enter partnership to ease transfer for students seeking higher education

Richmond Community College President Dr. Dale McInnis, right, and Wingate University President Dr. Rhett Brown sign an agreement to ease the transfer process for students between the two colleges. Photos by William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — Richmond Community College students will have an easier transition to Wingate University after the two colleges formalized their second agreement on Wednesday.

RichmondCC President Dr. Dale McInnis and Wingate President Dr. Rhett Brown signed the Gateway to Wingate Partnership in the lobby of Cole Auditorium.

McInnis said that when Wingate officials reached out about the opportunity, “we immediately embraced it.”

“This isn’t just about our students today,” McInnis said. “It’s about our future students and creating an expectation and opportunity for students in Richmond and Scotland County schools to know what lies ahead, what their potential can be and that it’s not that far away — either in distance or cost.”

According to Google Maps — which McInnis joked “is never wrong” — the drive time between the two campuses is 52 minutes.

“We are committed… to making sure our students are fully prepared when they enroll with you, they’re ready to succeed,” McInnis added. “And this agreement will make sure that they’re taking the right courses and that our advisers can give them the right plan.”

Prior to the signing, Wingate Provost Dr. Jeff Frederick opened with remarks about what it means to be a neighbor.

“A neighbor is someone who gives us strength in numbers, whose interests align with our own and whose betterment makes us stronger, as well,” said Frederick. “Across the country, public and private education have sometimes focused mainly on their fences, not so much on their neighbors and particularly not on their shared interests on being good neighbors to each other.”

Dr. Rhett Brown, provost of Wingate University, speaks about the importance of being a good neighbor to create opportunities.

The story between the two colleges, Frederick continued, is different.

“Our story today is good neighbors building a gateway to bring down fences so that we can work together in our common goal of making a transformative, skill-building gateway into degrees, into a brilliant future for students of all types in the greater Richmond County area.”

The agreement will make it easier for graduates of RichmondCC to earn a bachelor’s degree from Wingate at an affordable price, Frederick said.

With the Gateway agreement, any degree at the community college will transfer to Wingate and students will be eligible for a scholarship making the cost no more than $2,500 per year, according to Kevin Parsons, vice president of instruction and chief academic officer of RichmondCC.

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“That is a heck of a deal for a Wingate education,” Parsons said. “We’re very excited about this.”

According to Brown, the funding for the scholarship comes from federal aid, the North Carolina Need-Based Scholarship and donor support.

Brown, who started his higher education at a two-year college, said during his tenure at Wingate, the private college in Union County has “strengthened our commitment to creating the best possible avenues for making post-secondary education more attainable.”

Citing state statistics, Brown said that next year 67% of jobs in North Carolina will require a post-secondary degree or high-quality credentials — but only 49% of residents 25-44 have that level of training.

“We can close the gap, but only by working together,” Brown said.

Wingate is already the independent university of choice for Richmond County students, according to Brown, later naming several students who took the path and are now having successful careers.

“That’s why we could not be more pleased to work with RCC so that more students get the support they need to prepare for the careers they desire,” Brown continued. “Together we can help students clear the hurdles that can slow them down — whether it’s the cost of higher education or worries that … they won’t have the credits to transfer.”

RichmondCC and Wingate previously established a pathway for the doctor of pharmacy program at the university. Parsons said there are two students who have started at Richmond, transferred to Wingate and are now pharmacists.

Both Frederick and McInnis said the hope is for students to come back to Richmond County and enrich the community.

“Because if we don’t grow local talent, we’re going to continue to struggle,” McInnis said.

McInnis also is hopeful about future agreements between the two colleges “to make potential futures a reality.”

From left: Kevin Parsons, RichmondCC vice president of instruction, chief academic officer; Dr. Rhett Brown, president of Wingate University; Claudia Robinette, chair of RichmondCC Board of Trustees; Dr. Dale McInnis, president of RichmondCC; Dr. Jeff Frederick, provost of Wingate Univeristy; G.R. Kindley.

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.