01/25/04 — ECU-Goldsboro: University teaching degree available in Wayne County

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ECU-Goldsboro: University teaching degree available in Wayne County

What happened at Wayne Community College last week should be considered a great turning point in higher education in Wayne County, not quite equal to the establishment of the college itself, but big.

Under an agreement with East Carolina University in Greenville — a school that trains many of the teachers in the eastern part of the state — a student graduating from high school in the Wayne County area can:

•Attend classes for all four years at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro and get a four-year teaching degree from East Carolina.

•Earn a degree while continuing to hold a daytime job — all of the classes at WCC are either night-time classes or are taught online. For the face-to-face classes, the instructors will be ECU professors, the same ones a student would have in Greenville. They will drive to Goldsboro to teach.

•Earn a degree at much less cost than attending classes on the ECU campus. There will be no on-campus fees, and the only cost will be for tuition and books. Tuition will be $70 per credit hour. That comes to $1,050 per semester for 15 credit hours, or $1,260 for a heavier load, 18 hours.

•Live at home with a minimum of travel for classes.

The portion of the program that is advanced beyond the community college level would normally take 2 1/2 years to complete. Still, a student can earn a degree in four years by continuing classes during summers or by taking Jump Start classes while in high school.

Either of two degrees will be available. One is in elementary education and one is in special education.

Beneficiaries of this novel plan are not just the students, but also the public and private schools, which are desperately seeking well trained teachers. This program, called Partnership East, should encourage more young people to enter the teaching profession and bring them into the pool of applicants.

Furthermore, it can be used by the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Commission in the promotion of Wayne County. The county has long been blessed with a good private four-year institution, Mount Olive College. More recently, North Carolina Wesleyan at Rocky Mount has established a presence in downtown Goldsboro. But this is the first time a person could earn a four-year degree from one of our state universities without leaving the county. The director of the program, Debbie Grady, is available to make presentations about it to interested groups.

Ms. Grady, formerly a teacher and principal, now works for ECU. The president of Wayne Community College, Dr. Ed Wilson, who is partly responsible for this program, provided office space for her on his campus.

The partnership encompasses three surrounding community colleges, James Sprunt at Kenansville, Johnston County and Sampson County, as well as Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

We are indebted to Wilson and Dr. Marilyn Sheerer, the dean of education at ECU, for the foresight and initiative that has brought this splendid innovation.

Published in Editorials on January 25, 2004 12:25 AM