UTEP, EPCC sign partnership; Agreement ‘smooths pathways to degrees’

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Lf to Rt: Sarita Brown, EPCC President William Serrata and UTEP President Heather Wilson | Photo courtesy UTEP

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Monday morning, UTEP President Heather Wilson and EPCC President William Serrata signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that school official say will “further eliminate barriers for students transferring between or simultaneously enrolled in UTEP and EPCC classes.”

According to officials, in the past decade, more than 70% of students who obtained an undergraduate degree from UTEP had earned transfer credit from EPCC.

Officials add that, as a result of the renewed agreement , community college students in the Paso del Norte region will have an even more direct and convenient pathway to a bachelor’s degree.

“Earning a bachelor’s degree opens opportunities that are life changing…the partnership between UTEP and EPCC has been a model for the country. This updated agreement further improves our ability to provide access to exceptional higher education.”

UTEP President Heather Wilson

The agreement creates the framework to build on previous work to improve the transfer, admissions and financial aid processes for students transferring from EPCC to UTEP.

“Together, EPCC and UTEP are committed to ensuring that students participate in higher education and that they are able to have a seamless transfer and find fulfilling jobs as they enter the workforce…by working jointly, we ensure that individuals realize that college is within reach, that higher education is the pathway to economic mobility and that now is the best time to pursue a higher education in order to launch a successful career.”

EPCC President William Serrata

Sarita Brown and Deborah Santiago, co-founders of Excelencia in Education, a national organization with the mission to accelerate Latino student success in higher education, also attended today’s signing ceremony.

“The partnership between UTEP and EPCC is a long-standing, and nationally recognized model for how community colleges and universities can effectively align and connect to promote Hispanic student success,” said Brown, president of Excelencia in Education. “Many Latino students who begin their pursuit of a college education at community colleges aspire to earn a bachelor’s degree and beyond. It’s in all our interests, and certainly our responsibility as educators, to support students as they strive to achieve their highest aspirations.”

The newly signed MOU will create processes to better align course offerings so that EPCC students can focus on classes that will be applicable toward a UTEP degree.

The new MOU also builds on past efforts to improve transfer pathways. Previously, UTEP’s College of Liberal Arts facilitated curriculum changes that will improve the applicability of transfer credits from EPCC for a Bachelor of Arts.

The University will now look to optimize course applicability for degrees in business, engineering, education and health sciences. UTEP has already created a team focused on helping develop these academic pathways. Additionally, the University has allocated $500,000 toward scholarships for students who transfer from EPCC and will look to increase that funding.

“The transfer enhancements that we are making to academic pathways between UTEP and EPCC will ultimately reduce the cost and time for students to earn a bachelor’s degree,” said Virginia M. Fraire, Ph.D., vice provost for student success and strategic initiatives at UTEP. “This will greatly improve the higher education outcomes in our region.

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