RCC, Mount Olive agreement eases transition for students

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Randolph Community College President Dr. Robert S. Shackleford Jr. (right) and University of Mount Olive President Dr. H. Edward Croom sign two agreements between the schools during a ceremony Thursday, April 15, in the Dr. Robert S. Shackleford Jr. Allied Health Center on the Asheboro Campus.

ASHEBORO (April 20, 2021)

Randolph Community College and University of Mount Olive faculty and staff, along with members of the RCC Board of Trustees, gathered Thursday, April 15, in the Dr. Robert S. Shackleford Jr. Allied Health Center for an agreement signing ceremony. The two agreements will make it easier for RCC students to not only seamlessly transfer to Mount Olive to earn a bachelor of science degree in multiple agricultural disciplines, but also to earn a degree in other programs offered by the university without leaving Randolph County.

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RCC Vice President for Instructional Services Suzanne Rohrbaugh (left) addresses those in attendance. Pictured next to Rohrbaugh, left to right, are Mount Olive Dean of the School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences Dr. Sandy Maddox, Assistant Vice President for Curriculum Development Dr. Burt Lewis, and Assistant Dean in the School of Ag and Biological Sciences Jason Davis.

The documents are the result of four years of work between the schools — even before RCC had an Agriculture program.

“We're so excited about this partnership and the way that it is coming together,” RCC President Dr. Robert S. Shackleford Jr. said. “They are making an effort to provide classes here on our campus and classes online. That's a unique opportunity and a unique commitment on the part of Mount Olive — one that we respect and appreciate. This is going to serve a lot of students. ... The second agreement we’re signing is icing on the cake.

“What you're seeing today, it's not just a signing ceremony. The future of education is getting out of the silos. Education is moving quickly towards seamless pathways. We can't do our job unless we work closely with the high schools and closely with universities because it's all seamless. You're getting a foretaste of what education’s going to look like in the years to come — us all working together for the common good of the students and the common good of our communities.”

“It is great to be here today,” Mount Olive President Dr. H. Edward Croom added. “I am very happy to tell you how confident I am in the program. It’s a great day for us. It is a great day for our School of Ag and Biological Sciences. It's a great day for your students here in Randolph County. We're looking forward to a great partnership.”

Starting in Fall 2022, students who have completed an agricultural associate degree from RCC can enroll seamlessly with Mount Olive to pursue bachelor’s degrees in agribusiness, agricultural communication and leadership, agricultural production systems, and plant science on the RCC campus. Courses will engage students in theoretical applications of agricultural principles through hands-on learning. Mount Olive will deliver junior- and senior-level courses in a hybrid format on the RCC campus, and students also will have Mount Olive advisors and faculty available to them on the RCC site.

“Mount Olive is offering a great opportunity to start here and then go to Mount Olive to earn a bachelor’s degree and to not even have to leave the county,” RCC Agribusiness Technology Department Head Derrick Cockman said. “It will be beneficial to everybody.”

Mount Olive already partnered with Providence Grove High School four years ago with The Higher Education (THE) Ag Experience, which allows students to work toward an Associate of Science degree in Agriculture through the university while still in high school.

“We just had to wait for the stars to align,” Mount Olive Dean of the School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences Dr. Sandy Maddox said. “Dr. Croom can say that he wasn't in place at the time, but he put the whole idea of the academies into our brains. And then, with the right people in place, we were able to bring this to fruition. It was a great idea four years ago, and I think all of us knew we’d be here today.”

Croom and Maddox were joined by Dr. Burt Lewis, Assistant Vice President for Curriculum Development, and Jason Davis, Assistant Dean of the School of Ag and Biological Sciences.

RCC Vice President for Instructional Services Suzanne Rohrbaugh said the partnership with Mount Olive began four years ago with Pathways to Prosperity — a collaboration of RCC, Asheboro City Schools, and the Randolph County School System, working together with industry, to create a seamless pathway for students to go from local high schools to a great career in Randolph County. The school systems debuted the project in 2015 with pathways for advanced manufacturing jobs. The second initiative in 2016 focused on creating health care pathways. The third initiative, agriculture — Randolph County’s largest industry for land mass, was introduced in April 2018.

“The Mount Olive team has been just tremendous to work with,” Rohrbaugh said. “We feel like we're in a really good position to support our community here in Randolph County. The beauty of this [Ag] agreement is students will have the opportunity to remain right here in Randolph County, to be able to complete their degree. [Mount Olive staff is] going to be spending some time on our campus; they're going to help us with the advising and the recruitment and it is truly a partnership.”