EDMOND — A new grant will allow the University of Central Oklahoma to expand a program designed to help the state meet its college completion goals, officials say.
The university was recently awarded a grant of $250,000 from TG, a nonprofit corporation based in Round Rock, Texas.
UCO officials intend to use the grant to expand the university's Operation Degree Completion program, a program that seeks to boost the university's graduation numbers.
The university established the program two years ago. Since then, officials say it has resulted in about 650 new bachelor's degree graduates.
The program focuses on people who have nearly enough college credit to earn a degree, but aren't enrolled in college, said Jay Corwin, the university's vice president of enrollment management and the program's director.
Academic advisers identify those people and try to find a way to help them complete their degrees. The program was successful in its first two years, Corwin said, so UCO officials began looking for ways to expand it to nearby community colleges, as well.
The grant will fund new part-time academic advisers at each of the partnering community colleges — Rose State College, Oklahoma City Community College and Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City.
Those advisers review students who transferred to UCO from a community college to see if those students would be eligible for an associate degree — a process called reverse transfer.
The reverse transfer process already created more than 150 degrees this year.
Although each UCO student already has an academic adviser, those advisers are generally bogged down with the duties they already perform without adding reverse transfer. The new advisers will specialize in reverse transfer, he said.
The program dovetails with Reach Higher, an Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education program that also works with people with some college credit but no degree.
But unlike the state program, which focuses on students who have 70 hours or more of college credit, UCO's program works mainly with students who are one or two courses away from graduating.
In some cases, he said, students in the program may already have fulfilled all the requirements in a different degree program, meaning they could graduate if they changed their majors. In other cases, students were close to graduating when family issues or other circumstances forced them to drop out.
“Life just happened,” he said. “You would be amazed at the number of students there are.”
Corwin said the program will allow UCO to make a greater contribution to Oklahoma's college completion initiative.
Officials expect the program will create about 2,000 new associate's and bachelor's degrees over the next three years.
Gov. Mary Fallin and Glen Johnson, chancellor of the Oklahoma Higher Education System, have called for an additional 20,400 degrees and certificates awarded in Oklahoma over the next 12 years.
That goal is a part of Complete College America, a nationwide initiative designed to boost college completion.