SCTCC-SCSU partnership boon to our community

Higher Degree
January 11, 2011

by Joyce Helens, SCTCC President

I realize you "know" St. Cloud Technical & Community College. You may have graduated from the "Tech College" and now are working in your chosen field. Or maybe your son or daughter, spouse, or neighbor completed a degree here. Or you are a business leader who relies on our graduates to build your workforce or participates on an advisory board.

So you know us, right? Maybe.

SCTCC is adapting to the changing needs of our communities, our businesses and our students. You likely know that we are now a community college, offering the first two years of a college education. What may surprise you is how we have engaged in collaboration and partnerships with our sister institution, St. Cloud State University.

Strong partners

It began when St. Cloud State President Earl H. Potter III and I began to meet regularly to explore how we could work more closely together to become more efficient and more effective in delivering education and services to our students and our community.

We started by getting our teams together, touring each other's facilities and becoming acquainted. The university's team discovered we were a sound higher education institution with state-of-the-art facilities, robust curriculum and highly qualified faculty. Soon, we were sharing ideas and practices that began to lead us to becoming more effective and efficient.

Some surprises

Our collaborations began in small, easy steps. Here are a few highlights:

  • Physical plant and campus operations: This started with sharing telephone services and support that resulted in lower costs per line and lower labor costs. Today, we share a campus card system used for faculty, staff and students; webinar and interactive television services; and purchasing power on hardware and software. Students benefit through shared sports facilities and library materials. This amounts to thousands of dollars in savings.
  • Student housing and wellness: SCTCC students now live on St. Cloud State campus. St. Cloud State Residential Life sets aside 100 housing units for SCTCC students. Student Affairs staff at both institutions work to deliver alcohol abuse prevention workshops. They walk neighborhoods to welcome students and promote healthy lifestyle choices and work together with local law enforcement to minimize underage drinking.
  • Safety and emergency services: St. Cloud State's Law Enforcement students patrol as SCTCC's security force and Emergency Medical Services Program provide EMT training for all university security officers and health students.
  • Collaborative programming: The partnership between St. Cloud State engineering students and SCTCC's Machine Tool Program reflects how we can take learning and practical simulation to a higher level — together. The engineering students come to SCTCC for hands-on practical experience. St. Cloud State mechanical engineering students create blueprints for their competition cars and SCTCC Machine Tool students create the parts.

Successfully working together led us to tackle what might be the most challenging of collaborations for institutions of higher learning, those of building bridges between curriculums and faculty. But we did it.

SCTCC and St. Cloud State now share faculty in several programs, such as nursing, serve on each other's advisory boards and advise students to ensure seamless transferability. Collaborations like these have produced articulation agreements in many disciplines and those have multiplied as faculty work together to provide students in our institutions a common rubric.

A recent collaboration is transforming the undergraduate experience in Central Minnesota. More than 175 students participate in SCTCC classes on the St. Cloud State campus through the Community College Connections Program. All courses are prerequisite courses or fully transferrable to St. Cloud State or other Minnesota State institutions.

Have we surprised you? Well, you haven't seen anything yet. We will continue to work together to build bridges for other collaborative efforts between academic and student affairs, so that together SCTCC and St. Cloud State provides each student at our institutions a "well-lighted path" to successful completion.

Kate Wallace
Posted in Higher Degree