ASU, Arizona Western partnership provides bachelor's degrees in key needs for Yuma

By

Maureen Roen

Students at Arizona Western College’s Yuma campus will be able to complete a bachelor’s degree thanks to a new partnership with Arizona State University. The joint program between the two schools will offer degrees in three disciplines.

Students will be able to complete their ASU bachelor’s degrees on-site at one of the community college’s Yuma locations. Majors offered through the partnership were selected to address workforce needs in the greater Yuma area.

For example, ASU’s new bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice and a degree in organizational leadership starting in the fall of 2015 will help fill the need for well-qualified law-enforcement officers as well as prepare leaders for work in for-profit, non-profit and government agencies in the community.

A third degree in secondary education will be added in the fall of 2016, which will help graduate well-qualified candidates to fill a chronic shortage of teachers at the Yuma Union High School District, according to Associate Superintendent James Sheldahl.

“For the past several years, the district has had multiple math and science teaching positions go unfilled – some years as many as 20 (positions) district-wide,” Sheldahl said. The program also provides “a pathway to teaching for many of our talented (high school graduates) who otherwise may not have that opportunity.”

This new partnership, six months in the making, reflects Arizona Western College President Glenn Mayle’s commitment to bringing quality education programs to Yuma and La Paz counties and ASU President Michael Crow’s drive to provide a quality education to every qualified student and to fulfill the university’s responsibility to improve the opportunities in the communities around ASU.

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association has already approved ASU offering these degrees in this new location. Students will take their lower-division courses through Arizona Western College, then proceed into upper-division courses through ASU.

ASU is anticipating that the Arizona Board of Regents will approve a reduced level of tuition, whereby a full-time student would pay $5,500 for two semesters of full-time coursework for the 2015-2016 academic year – a significant savings (a savings of as much as $4500) over resident tuition at the ASU campuses in metropolitan Phoenix.

ASU staff visited Yuma on April 27 to recruit students for the new programs. Maria Hesse, ASU vice provost for academic partnerships, has been leading the partnership discussions along with Linda Elliott-Nelson, Arizona Western College (AWC) vice president, and Daniel Barajas, dean of AWC. Hesse, who is a former community college president, explained that the partnership plays to the strengths of both institutions.

“AWC provides high-quality college programs in beautiful facilities, with wonderful faculty,” Hesse said. “Students then finish their work through ASU, graduating with a degree from a top-tier research university, which is highly marketable. By sharing resources, we can offer the degree at a lower cost, something appreciated by parents and community leaders.”

Students and organizations who are interested in the fall 2015 programs can contact Clayton Kidd at clayton.kidd@asu.edu for criminology and criminal justice in ASU’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions, and Kim Keck at kimberly.keck@asu.edu for organizational leadership in ASU’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

Students interested in the fall 2016 secondary education program can contact Laura Grosso from ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at laura.grosso@asu.edu .

A partnership kick-off event is scheduled for Oct. 13, in Yuma at which presidents Mayle and Crow will both speak.