Programs help increase USA presence in Baldwin

By John Underwood / john@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 9/8/17

While Coastal Alabama Community College has maintained a two-year college presence in Baldwin County for over five decades, the University of South Alabama has matched that success on the four-year …

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Programs help increase USA presence in Baldwin

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While Coastal Alabama Community College has maintained a two-year college presence in Baldwin County for over five decades, the University of South Alabama has matched that success on the four-year level.

Now with two campuses and a major college program designed to increase opportunities for success for college students on the Gulf Coast, USA is looking to expand its presence even further in Baldwin and the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coast.

In January 2016, USA President Tony Waldrop and Gary Branch, president of what was then Faulkner State Community College, announced the launch of the Pathway USA program, designed to help students transitioning from the two-year to the four-year institution.

In December, Christopher Lynch, associate vice president of Enrollment Services at USA, one of the main organizers of the program, said the program had enrolled about 270 students.

“We’re really starting our first full year in the program and, so far, that number has increased to over 500, almost 600 students,” he said. “It has succeeded really beyond our wildest expectations.”

The program also includes students from Bishop State Community College in Mobile and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, but by far the largest number of students participating are from Baldwin County, Lynch said.

And with the transition from Faulkner, which included three campuses in Baldwin County to Coastal Alabama, with the addition of campuses in Escambia and Monroe counties, that can only be good news for the University of South Alabama, Lynch said.

“It is really too early to tell exactly how the transition will impact us, but we are certainly excited about the change,” he said. “Dr. Branch is driven to make all of the Coastal Alabama campuses as successful as the Baldwin County campuses and I believe that can only benefit USA.”

In January of 2016, when the program was launched, Branch called the program, “a great win for our students.”

“I’m looking forward to the positive impact Pathway USA will have on (Coastal Alabama Community College) and our region,” he said.

The University of South Alabama provides more than 16,000 students with programs in business, the liberal arts, education, engineering, computing, the sciences and health care. USA provides small class sizes and hands-on research opportunities in 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs offered through nine academic colleges and schools. USA offers advanced and innovative health care through the USA Health System.

According to usouthal.edu, USA’s Fairhope campus provides college-level courses, educational outreach, continuing and professional education opportunities and degree-completion programs, serving more than 1,500 students annually.

“Our Baldwin County campus is really perfect for students looking to make the transition from the two-year to the four-year institution,” Lynch said, “particularly students from Baldwin County who want to continue their education in Baldwin County, and those who have finished their degree and want to continue their education.”

While not all of USA’s core curriculum is offered in Baldwin County, Lynch said the university is constantly working to expand its programs in Baldwin County and recently opened a Gulf Shores campus, offering hospitality and tourism courses.

“It’s perfect for us to offer these courses right in the middle of the hub of the hospitality and tourism industry in our state,” he said.

Pathway USA is geared toward students who are not admitted at South as well as students who may simply prefer to begin their college education at Faulkner State. These students may choose to have a copy of their USA application and supporting documents forwarded to Coastal Alabama for admission consideration. Students already attending Coastal Alabama may also apply for Pathway USA. A unique application will be created and available for Coastal Alabama students to complete and submit.

Students who enter the Pathway USA program will have unique benefits, such as:

• Guaranteed admission to USA upon successful completion (cumulative grade-point average of 2.0 or higher) of the associate’s degree.

• A USA academic advisor assigned to them who will meet students at Faulkner State and provide individual guidance on course selection and map out degree plans.

• Reverse Transfer agreements that will allow Faulkner State students who transfer to South without an associate’s degree to complete that degree after entering USA.

• Special discounts through USA’s Jaguar Productions.

• Complimentary admission to South Alabama athletic events.

The program will be launched beginning with the 2016 fall semester and will be open to all students.

Persons wanting additional information on Pathway USA at the University of South Alabama are urged to contact USA’s Enrollment Services office at 251-460-6494 or email enrollmentservices@southalabama.edu.

For more information about Coastal Alabama Community College visit ascc.edu. For more information on the University of South Alabama visit usouthal.edu.