Isothermal Community College and Western Carolina University announce entrepreneurship pact

Oct. 26, 2013 @ 05:31 AM

Students in the entrepreneurship program at Isothermal Community College will have an opportunity to seamlessly continue their studies at Western Carolina University, officials announced this week.

Isothermal’s President Walter Dalton signed articulation agreements involving the WCU College of Business’ Entrepreneurship Program and Isothermal at the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) annual conference in Charlotte on Monday, Oct. 14. The agreements create a guarantee for Isothermal students that certain credits earned while studying for one of two entrepreneurship-related associate degrees will transfer automatically upon admission to WCU’s Bachelor of Entrepreneurship or Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with an entrepreneurship major.

“Entrepreneurship is one of the keys to the future economy, and this agreement creates a secure path for Isothermal students to complete their associate degrees and be assured of the acceptance of those credits into WCU’s programs, which is one of the best four-year entrepreneurship programs in the nation,” said Dalton.

WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher, who had signed the agreements earlier, echoed Dalton’s sentiment.

“I am pleased to strengthen what is already a great partnership with Isothermal,” he said. “We look forward to more Isothermal students in entrepreneurship transferring to Western Carolina and leading economic development for the future.”

Kim Alexander, dean of Business Sciences at Isothermal, expressed her pleasure regarding the agreement and indicated Isothermal is working on additional agreements with WCU that will be of mutual benefit to both institutions, and which will give Isothermal students a solid and clear path to success.

“We have two agreements that were signed at NACCE,” said Alexander. “The first articulates our Associate of Arts and Sciences (AAS) Business Administration degree that has a track in Entrepreneurship. The other agreement is for our AAS Entrepreneurship degree. Both articulate into WCU’s Entrepreneurship degree programs.” 

Dr. Frank Lockwood, a WCU Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship with an extensive background as an entrepreneur and who has has been involved in the WCU Entrepreneurship Program since its early days, said the a new agreements are unique to Isothermal. 

“I had two Isothermal instructors – Scott Hutchins and Rick Childress – who graduated with WCU’s Master of Entrepreneurship graduate program.  We discussed how to give Isothermal students the opportunity to continue their educations at a higher level,” said Lockwood. “The results are the articulation agreements.  Isothermal is leading the way in this effort and we are excited about it. On the whole, the quality of the student we get at Western Carolina University from a community college is outstanding. We anticipate these agreements will create a real culture of entrepreneurship among the students.”

An important aspect of the relationship between the two schools is the ability of Isothermal students to complete the bachelor’s degrees at WCU using the distance education format. 

“We know that the bulk of job growth and creation comes from small businesses,” said Alexander. “With the right tools, small businesses can grow into large businesses; ideas can become reality; innovation and success can create a multiplier effect on individuals and their communities. Students can get those tools through these programs. The bottom line is that the agreements open the door for opportunity and economic development.”

Lockwood added, “Isothermal students can complete their high school and community college educations and stay at home to complete their four-year degrees, which will increase the chances of that student starting a new business locally. Providing the learning of entrepreneurial skills seamlessly between a local high school and community college and a university is an outstanding example of how North Carolina’s educational institutions can create jobs and new businesses.”