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EAC – ASU graduates honored at reception

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EAC – ASU graduates honored at reception

By Lori Dugan

Thatcher, AZ—The friends and family of some special graduates gathered earlier this month to celebrate the first cohort of 19 ASU graduates from Eastern Arizona College – Arizona State University Partnership. The degree candidates were celebrated in a reception and recognition event in the Activities Center – Lee Little Theater, on May 10.

The event, emceed by Dr. Maria Hesse, ASU vice provost for academic partnerships, also celebrated the team of faculty, staff and administrators from both institutions who have worked hard to get the partnership off the ground. (In acknowledgment of this important collaboration, Hesse was invited by EAC to give the commencement address at EAC graduation ceremonies on Friday evening.)

“This is a day we have worked toward for more than 12 years,” EAC President Mark Bryce told the crowd of 250 who had come Saturday to honor the inaugural ASU cohort. Bryce first championed the effort to bring more bachelor’s degree options to the Gila Valley.

Sporting an ASU maroon and gold tie, Bryce said, “Academics tend to fight change, but there are going to be lots of changes to higher education in the coming years. Thank you to Michael Crow for being willing to do something good – and even great. Let the adventure begin!”

The EAC – ASU partnership allows EAC students to complete their associate degree and then seamlessly transfer into ASU upper-division courses, offered mostly on-site in Thatcher. Local talent is hired by ASU to teach the two-year sequence of upper-division courses needed to fulfill the bachelor’s requirements.

The EAC – ASU partnership, when launched in 2012, offered a new model for helping rural Arizonans complete bachelor’s degrees locally – in degree offerings guided by regional employment opportunities and enrollment trends.

“They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and community colleges all over the state are now asking ASU to do similar programs in their communities,” Vice Provost Hesse told the audience. “I think that’s quite a compliment to the students and employees of EAC and ASU.”

In addition to saving working adults from driving hundreds of miles each week to complete bachelor’s degrees, several of the programs offered at EAC allow graduates to earn a Pac-12 university degree at a reduced rate, with 75 of the 120 degree-credits charged at the EAC tuition rate and only 45 at the ASU rate.

ASU currently offers four bachelor’s programs on-site at EAC: the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) in organizational studies, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, the Bachelor of Liberal Studies, and the Bachelor of Applied Science in Operations Management.

A bachelor’s in organizational leadership comes on board in fall 2014, and the partnership will launch a secondary-education teacher preparation program in Fall 2015, to grow the ranks of highly qualified math and science teachers for high schools in the area.

Of the students completing degrees through the EAC-ASU partnership this spring, 17 are graduating with the BIS in organizational studies and two with the bachelor’s of nursing.