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Expanding CSU, CTC partnership creates academic pathways, deepens local talent pool for in-demand careers - Columbus State University Skip to Main Content

Expanding CSU, CTC partnership creates academic pathways, deepens local talent pool for in-demand careers

May 31, 2023

A group of Columbus State and Columbus Tech leaders signing documents around a table.

An expanding partnership between Columbus State University and Columbus Technical College seeks to strengthen the Chattahoochee Valley’s workforce—especially for the skills and degrees in demand by the region’s employers.

The partnership is two-fold. First, it maps specific degree pathways for students who want to continue their studies in their chosen fields at Columbus State after they complete their CTC degree. Second, it provides CTC associate degree-holders smoother admission to CSU, as well as reverse transfer for CSU graduates who wish to study at Columbus Tech. Through this partnership, the two institutions’ admissions and academic advising teams will share the advantages of these opportunities with their current and prospective students.

Dr. John M. Fuchko III headshot“By working together, we hope to increase student success for both Columbus State and Columbus Tech students,” said Dr. John M. Fuchko III, Columbus State’s interim president. “We are committed to working together to benefit our shared community and to recognize the different paths toward student success that CSU and CTC represent.”

Creating those pathways and bolstering student success, Columbus Technical College President Martha Ann Todd said, is about making access to college easier for area students.

“Given the decline in the number of high school graduates—nationally and in our service region—and the changing demographics within those numbers, both institutions continue to face enrollment challenges,” Todd said. “Our two institutions have the responsibility of making a college education more accessible, affordable and practical for all as students and families consider how to make the dream of a college education a reality.”

Fuchko indicated one of the challenges students face when transferring between schools is the loss of academic credits—which in turn adds more time and expense for students trying to earn a degree and begin their careers.

“By presenting students with a clear degree pathway upfront, they can make informed decisions about the time it will take them to earn a degree, and the costs associated with that,” he explained. “Aligning our degree plans of study on the front end, and supporting that with academic advising focused on the full scope of CSU and CTC resources available to students throughout their studies, means they can remain confident they are on track to complete their studies on time and on budget.”

Fuchko and Todd sign the academic pathways articulation agreementDr. John M. Fuchko III of Columbus State (left) and Martha Ann Todd of Columbus Tech (right) sign the academic pathways articulation agreement. 

Currently, the academic pathways partnership focuses on eight degree areas where students can begin their studies at Columbus Technical College and transfer credits to Columbus State University before or upon attainment of their associate degree. These fields include business and human resource management, criminal justice, elementary education, exercise science, health science, information technology, nursing and robotics engineering.

Dr. David Kuipers, Columbus Tech’s vice president of academic affairs, said a byproduct of this expanding partnership has been the synergy occurring between faculty of the two institutions in these degree fields. As the partnership continues, that synergy will allow the relevant degree programs and their faculty to cooperate in a way that ensures continuous improvement regarding students’ success and their overall educational experience.

“[Our faculty] are finding out they have a lot in common and that they have a lot of shared interests,” he said. “That’s leading to opportunities to work together and collaborate—work that is going to help students even beyond this articulation agreement.”

Dr. Pat McHenry headshotWith area initiatives like Columbus 2025 focused primarily on attracting the talent the area needs to grow jobs, increase prosperity, reduce poverty and enhance quality of life, this latest CSU-CTC partnership promises to leverage education as the cornerstone of achieving goals. With talent and education being the drivers behind much of Columbus 2025’s efforts, Dr. Pat McHenry, Columbus State’s interim provost and executive vice president, sees both the community and its students as the “winners” of this partnership.

“Students win through this partnership because the entire community and region win. The economic development stemming from this partnership helps everyone by providing students with academic and career opportunities,” he said.

University System of Georgia data indicates there is room to increase degree attainment among Columbus’ workforce. Between 25% and 30% of area residents have some college education but not a degree, and 5% to 10% have an associate degree-level education. Census data from 2017 to 2021 shows the percentage of residents in surrounding counties age 25 and above who have at least a bachelor’s degree ranges only between 20% to 38%.

“We’re building a community of education, talent development and workforce development between the two institutions that will create a pipeline to meet the goals of both of our institutions and Columbus 2025,” said Todd, who also chairs Columbus 2025’s Talented, Educated People Committee.

Research by Columbus 2025 indicates that the region is projected to create nearly 10,000 new jobs over the next decade, with approximately 40% of those requiring post-secondary education. That forecast currently leans toward growth in highly skilled sectors like aerospace, biomedical, electronics, finance, software and information technology—sectors where the greater Columbus region has seen its fastest growth and higher-than-average employment concentrations.

“Our newest degree programs include robotics engineering, cybersecurity, fintech and film production—areas where the Chattahoochee Valley’s talent needs are poised to increase, and where Columbus State is positioned to serve the needs of current and future employers,” Fuchko said. “Likewise, Columbus Tech has its own offerings in these and other fields that undergird the area’s burgeoning talent and brick-and-mortar infrastructure.”

This newly signed agreement is a new facet of an evolving partnership between the two institutions. Under this expanded partnership, Columbus Tech students will now be able to live in Columbus State on-campus housing. Students at both institutions will be able to connect through the other’s student clubs and organizations, study abroad opportunities, and internship programs.

Previous elements of the partnership included Columbus State extending recreational benefits in October 2022 to Columbus Tech students and employees, which included access to CSU’s Student Recreation Center as well as its Intramural Sports programs. In January 2023, Maj. Gen. (U.S. Army, retired) Patrick Donahoe began advising both CSU and CTC presidents as a special assistant on matters relating to enrollment, support programs and services for the two institutions’ military-connected students.

Fuchko noted that this newly articulated phase of the Columbus State-Columbus Tech partnership has been more than a year in the making. He also recognized the foundation laid more than decade ago at the schools’ respective system levels that is making this partnership possible.

“Work between the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia more than a decade ago set the direction for this partnership,” he said. “We want to focus on the best thing for our students, which turns into the best thing for our communities, our workforce and our state.”

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