BIG STONE GAP - Mountain Empire Community College and the University of Virginia's College at Wise formally signed a partnership agreement Friday to create a simple means for students to move between the two institutions.
The dual admission Appalachia Inter-Mountain Scholars (AIMS) Higher pact enables students who enter MECC as AIMS Higher scholarship recipients to later transfer to UVa-Wise to pursue four-year degrees.
Meeting at the MECC campus on Friday, MECC President Terrance Suarez and UVa-Wise Chancellor David J. Prior signed the agreement during a formal ceremony in Dalton-Cantrell Hall.
"This program is an excellent example of how the public schools (and the two colleges) can collaborate to enhance educational opportunities for students throughout Southwest Virginia," Prior said.
Suarez said the concurrent admission agreement is "another step forward for the public schools, MECC and UVa-Wise. Our partnership will help to create, as (Delegate Bud Phillips, D-Clintwood) so aptly described, a â€˜culture of education' in Southwest Virginia."
The AIMS Higher program encourages high school students in the counties of Wise, Lee, Scott and Dickenson, and the city of Norton, to complete a challenging curriculum and pursue a higher education. To qualify, students must maintain at least a "C" average in each of the 17 approved high school courses, maintain a 95 percent attendance rate throughout high school, have no out-of-school suspensions, and complete 20 hours of community service over a four-year period.
"By creating a laddered program from high school to MECC to UVa-Wise, we are giving students and their families a clear and supportive blueprint for success," Prior said.
AIMS Higher participants who desire to take advantage of the pact forged between the two colleges must demonstrate full-time enrollment at MECC, complete the necessary coursework to receive an associate degree in a transfer program within three years, maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average, earn no grade below a "C" during the period of enrollment at MECC, demonstrate sound character and remain in good standing while enrolled, and participate in all program events.
Besides concurrent admission to both colleges, participants will receive full tuition assistance.