Harper College officially inked an agreement with Governors State University to create a Dual Degree Program that guarantees admission to Harper students who enroll in the program and complete their associate degree.
Harper credits will transfer seamlessly, and Governors State's tuition rate will be locked in for students when they start at Harper.
At the signing ceremony on Harper's campus, President Dr. Kenneth Ender said the agreement makes "so much sense from the standpoint of two public institutions finding a way to grow."
Those in the program will be able to compete for scholarships offered by Governors State to community college transfer students. The public university is located in University Park.
The new deal, like other deals forged recently between Harper and other Illinois four-year universities -- including Roosevelt and DePaul universities and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign -- puts the focus on finishing college, and makes it affordable to do so.
"We always stress to our students the importance of finishing what they start," Harper Provost Judy Marwick said. "Post-secondary education is vital in today's economy, and this partnership provides another opportunity to achieve an important educational goal by starting here."
The program also will allow students to earn capstone bachelor's degrees in traditionally two-year career fields already offered at Harper.
Faculty at both schools are working to develop a four-year Governors State degree in Advanced Manufacturing that would build on a new program launched by Harper last year to address a shortage of skilled high-tech workers. That program now lets students earn an industry credential in one term, and then complete a paid internship and other specialized credentials on their way to a Harper associate degree.
Governors State President Dr. Elaine Maimon praised the positive academic momentum and 21st century innovation she said she sees both at Harper and her own institution.
"We are separated by roadways and distance," Maimon said, "but I think we are very close in terms of creativity, commitment to students and a commitment to work together."
Participants in the new Dual Degree Program will have access to Governors State advisers and transfer specialists from the time they start at Harper, and will be advised by counselors from both schools to plan their education. Governors State courses will be available on-site and online.
Harper holds transfer agreements with more than 100 colleges and universities nationwide. The college is the 10th community college to sign on to Governors State's Dual Degree Program.
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