Today, Iowa Wesleyan University (IW) and Southeastern Community College (SCC) have announced a memorandum of understanding to explore the development of a strategic partnership between institutions.
Leadership from both institutions will explore opportunities where each would benefit, including shared administrative structure and resources, cooperative academic arrangements, and economies of scale. The two institutions will remain separate entities, maintaining distinct accreditation, boards, and governance structures. While IW and SCC have partnered in academic programming in the past, this formal affiliation will allow for seamless transfer pathways between Iowa Wesleyan and SCC, significantly broadening students’ educational opportunities and strengthening workforce development for the region.
“Since our founding in 1842, Iowa Wesleyan University has pioneered innovative educational practices and led the way in providing educational opportunities to diverse populations,” said Chris Plunkett, President of Iowa Wesleyan University. “We are thrilled to be moving toward a partnership with Southeastern Community College, and I look forward to the tremendous opportunity it will provide to our students and our community.”
Uncertainties relating to the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the challenges already faced by colleges and universities due to economic pressures and demographic shifts. New unique and creative models of higher education will become important in securing the future of economically vital regional educational institutions, particularly in rural regions of the country.
“This is the first step toward a potentially innovative and unique partnership between a four-year private liberal arts university and a public community college,” says SCC President Dr. Michael Ash. “It could serve as a model for other institutions across the country.”
IW and SCC intend to establish a joint “Affiliation Council,” which will collaborate on opportunities that promote both institutions’ greater good. The council will also make recommendations and help set priorities for the partnership’s short and long-term goals. The institutions plan to submit a strategic affiliation agreement to their mutual accrediting body, The Higher Learning Commission, subject to approval later this year, anticipating full implementation with the Fall 2021 semester.