USF, HCC, PHCC and St. Pete College announce partnership
Calling the move a "win-win-win-win," the presidents of the University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College, Pasco-Hernando Community College and St. Petersburg College today announced a partnership that gives students a guaranteed pathway to a USF bachelor's degree from any of those colleges.
The state already allows graduates with associate degrees to transfer to a Florida university, dubbed the two-plus-two program, but before this they've not necessarily had a choice in where. This new agreement promises that the students from those three colleges can come to USF. They will also get preferential admission to certain upper-division programs.
"It's all about partnerships," said USF President Judy Genshaft, echoing the message of the fall address she gave in September. She said the consortium offers a model for the rest of the state. "This is just a great example of us working together."
The official agreement signed Wednesday has been in the works for a year, the presidents said, but it formalizes the collaborative spirit that's always existed between the institutions.
St. Petersburg College President Bill Law said it creates a "mosaic" of higher education opportunity in the region.
Ken Atwater, president of Hillsborough Community College, used the phrase "win-win-win-win."
And Pasco-Hernando Community College President Katherine Johnson said it represents a commitment to keep Florida's students in-state.
In addition to giving students an easier transition between the institutions, the presidents hope the partnership will be better positioned to attract grants and economic development to the region. They want to work together wherever possible, which includes aligning programs to decrease unnecessary duplications and finding ways to share faculty and staff.
The resolution also lays out a non-compete agreement, saying the college partners will not seek to offer bachelor's degrees, nor invite other baccalaureate providers to their campuses unless USF declines to provide whatever program they want to add. On the other side, USF agrees not to develop programs that would compete with programs already available at those colleges.
The presidents deflected questions about whether that clause is meant to combat a recent rise in state colleges offering four-year degrees, saying that the Florida Department of Education already similarly vets any new baccalaureate programs.
"There has always been a good relationship with USF," Atwater said. "We're just formalizing it. We want everyone to know we're in this together."