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SEARK students to pursue online degrees through Arkansas Tech

by Byron Tate | October 1, 2021 at 3:08 a.m.
Southeast Arkansas College President Steven Bloomberg and Barbara Johnson with Arkansas Tech University sign an agreement Thursday allowing SEARK students to work online toward a degree from Arkansas Tech. (Pine Bluff Commercial/Byron Tate)

Students at Southeast Arkansas College will be able to transfer their hours to Arkansas Tech University and finish their degrees online.

Representatives from the two schools met at Southeast Arkansas College on Thursday to sign a memorandum of understanding that they said would benefit students and their respective institutions.

"Why this is important for us is that many of our students are place-bound," said Southeast Arkansas College President Steven Bloomberg. "Transportation is difficult for many of them. This will allow them to have a seamless opportunity to attend Arkansas Technical University and study. This will now give first-generation college students a path to a degree."

Barbara Johnson, vice president of academic affairs at Arkansas Tech, said the two schools had been working on the cooperative arrangement since late spring.

"This is great for us as well," Johnson said, adding that Arkansas Tech has special advisers who deal with helping students who want to pursue online degrees. The program, she said, typically helps nontraditional students, such as those who have served in the military, get their bachelor's degrees.

"We are very excited about this," Johnson said. "This opportunity will help us fulfill our mission to provide access and opportunities for success for students."

Johnson said the two schools referred to the transfer process as "seamless" because students at Southeast Arkansas College can move from one school to the other with ease.

The goal of the agreement is to allow students who are in one of several associate degree programs at Southeast Arkansas College to connect with Arkansas Tech and gain a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership. The Southeast Arkansas disciplines include business, criminal justice and health-related associate degree programs.

"This means they won't lose any credits," Johnson said. "For these particular programs, we've already worked it out so they don't lose any academic credits."

As the two officials were signing the memorandum of understanding, one Southeast Arkansas College dean spoke up and said she had already recruited a former graduate to enter the program.

Bloomberg said he already had been approached by leaders in the business community who were interested in the program as a way to get more education for their employees.

Print Headline: Colleges' deal to open path to online degrees

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