By Kristen Tribe | Wise County Messenger
Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls is moving into Wise County this summer.
The four-year institution will begin teaching upper level courses at Weatherford College Wise County in June.
The first classes offered will focus on teacher education and preparation for individuals planning to enter the teaching field.
Weatherford College Executive Dean of Academics Michael Endy said besides the obvious advantage of convenient university classes, the partnership brings different types of professionals and varied ideas to the community. Plus, he said, it reassures Wise County citizens that Weatherford College is committed to making this campus work.
“The best thing is showing people in Wise County at a difficult time that this college campus isn’t going away,” he said. “This college is going to be there, and we’re going to look for opportunities to serve the people of Wise County, and to the best advantage of the people of Wise County, not the best advantage of the college.”
Endy said the partnership with MSU benefits all of North Texas, and he credits WCWC Associate Dean Dr. Matt Joiner with making it happen.
“Matt is the one who said, ‘here’s an opportunity to help Wise County.’ And that’s what he’s doing every day,” Endy said. “He’s collaborating to create opportunities to serve Wise County. I couldn’t be prouder and happier with what Matt’s doing.”
Joiner said he thought for some time that WCWC could use a four-year partner. He first thought of Midwestern because they don’t already have satellite campuses in the Metroplex like the University of North Texas, Texas Woman’s University and others. He reached out to MSU professors who were former WCWC instructors to get the ball rolling.
Joiner said MSU had done an extensive economic study in association with their enrollment management plan, and specifically the Alliance corridor.
“That obviously had to do with what they were looking at,” he said. “They’ve left the door open for much beyond education. They’re looking at all types of majors.”
Midwestern will offer four education-related classes this summer, and will modify and add classes according to demand.
“They’ll work through a menu of classes, and they’re just testing the waters,” Endy said. “They have an idea in mind about how much they can commit to starting this up.
“Eventually you’ll be looking at a dozen courses at any given time,” he said. “What they’ll offer will depend on what the student population needs.”
Keith Lamb, MSU vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, wasn’t available for comment by press time Friday, but in a Times Record News article, he said the school’s goals are to provide quality academic programs for adult learners, focusing on ages 25 and older.
Students who begin their college studies at WCWC will be able to easily roll their credits into a four-year degree plan.
Joiner said, “students love our campus, and it’s been difficult to get them to transfer because they’re so comfortable with us.
“Knowing they would be able to make a transition to classrooms just down the hall will encourage them to pursue their bachelor’s degree,” he said.
Joiner said WCWC recently hosted a meeting between the MSU administration and local school district administrators where they discussed the possibility of offering a master’s degree at a future date.
“Then local school districts could grow their own teachers and administrators, and it can be flexible in terms of scheduling,” he said.
He noted that MSU is also considering a program to allow associate degree nurses to earn their bachelor’s in nursing. Endy said the university has also expressed interest in business and criminal justice programs.
“They’re looking at all types of majors,” Joiner said.
He explained that all of these classes would be offered in Wise County or through a hybridized plan, which could also include online classes.
Until recently, the college had a similar agreement with Tarleton State University, but the school withdrew from the Weatherford campus to set up shop in Tarrant County. WCWC is the only Weatherford College campus to have the presence of a four-year university.
Endy said it’s important to him that Wise County citizens know that Weatherford College officials understand the challenges of an uncertain financial future, and they’re prepared to face them “together.”
“What do we do to make it through this crisis?” Endy said, referring to the county’s bleak budget outlook. “It’s not fun to think about, but we’re in this together. We’re going to do everything we can to make this work.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” he said.
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