USC Upstate Announces Upstate Direct Connect Partnership With Three Local Two-Year Colleges

October 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Initiative Offers Students Deliberate Pathway To Baccalaureate Degree Attainment

With the demand for higher education in Upstate South Carolina on the rise and the availability of  well-educated technicians, scientists, professionals and managers among the  most critical factors in the economic growth of the region, the University of South Carolina Upstate recognizes that partnerships with two-year colleges are an important key to producing more graduates with baccalaureate degrees.

USC Upstate is unveiling its Upstate Direct Connect© initiative, an exclusive opportunity for two-year colleges that guarantees admission to USC Upstate for any student who graduates with an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science or select Associate of Applied Science degree.

A Press Conference was held on Tuesday, October 26 at 10:00 a.m. in the Greenville Technical College Technical Resource Center Atrium with Dr. John Stockwell, chancellor of USC Upstate, and Dr. Keith Miller, president of Greenville Tech, signing a Joint Resolution solidifying their Upstate Direct Connect© partnership. During a second Press Conference, which was conducted later Tuesday afternoon in the J M Smith Board Room on the USC Upstate campus, Dr. Stockwell signed a similar Joint Resolution to establish the University’s partnership with Dr. Para M. Jones, president of Spartanburg Community College, and Dr. Colleen Perry Keith, president of Spartanburg Methodist College.

“USC Upstate is extremely effective in graduating students with baccalaureate degrees and extremely efficient in partnering with two-year colleges,” said Dr. John Stockwell, USC Upstate chancellor. “The University is proud of its track record in enrolling transfer students from Greenville Tech, SCC and SMC. Currently, about 40% of USC Upstate’s incoming students enter as transfers, by far the largest percentage among universities statewide.  As a consequence, the percentage of enrolled USC Upstate students who graduate each year with the baccalaureate degree is also the highest among the state’s public universities.”

“Strengthening the higher education pipeline is critical if we are to increase the number of college graduates in our state,” said Steve Valand, vice president for education at Greenville Tech. “By working together, we can ensure that students start at Greenville Tech with a bachelor’s degree from USC Upstate in sight and that they feel supported by both institutions along the way.”

“Each year, many Spartanburg Methodist graduates transfer to the University of South Carolina Upstate to complete their baccalaureate degrees,” said Dr. Colleen Perry Keith, president of Spartanburg Methodist College. “The transfer process, and the acceptance by USC Upstate of SMC credits, has been an exceptionally smooth one and our students have benefitted greatly for many years as a result of the close working relationship between SMC and USC Upstate. This Upstate Direct Connect© partnership should enhance the already outstanding relationship between the two Colleges and we are pleased to be a part of it.”

“The Upstate Direct Connect© Program is an outstanding opportunity for current and future Spartanburg Community College students and any Upstate resident currently enrolled or planning to enroll in college,” said Dr. Para M. Jones, president of Spartanburg Community College. “Thanks to Dr. Stockwell’s visionary leadership and this innovative partnership, students in our region can earn a baccalaureate degree in an affordable, seamless and convenient way.

“This partnership reflects the value of our College Town brand and our commitment to the community’s 40/30 goal of increasing postsecondary education attainment to 40% of our population by 2030,” Jones added. “Research shows that higher learning leads to higher earning and that the sure path to prosperity is through education. SCC’s vision is to increase per capita income through education, thereby strengthening our local economy.”

All four college presidents agree that the Upstate Direct Connect© partnership will advance considerably the percentage of Upstate residents with baccalaureate degrees, creating a growing pool of well-educated citizens, enhancing the competitive advantages of Upstate South Carolina.

According to Dr. Ann Bowles, vice president for academic affairs at SMC, “The Upstate Direct Connect© agreement affirms the collaborative efforts of SMC and USC Upstate. The partnership between the two institutions of higher learning has long yielded a positive transfer path for SMC students. Faculty from both colleges began meeting several years ago to share course content information and student success stories. This new chapter in a continuing dialog is exactly the kind of assurance that parents and students need to hear as they plan a college career right here in Spartanburg.”

Upstate Direct Connect© will certainly allow students to be more deliberate in their transfer plans once entering a two-year college as they will receive enhanced academic on-site advising from Greenville Tech, SCC, SMC and USC Upstate advisors. Additionally, students enrolled in Upstate Direct Connect© will have accelerated admission to USC Upstate, providing smooth transition through the University’s processes including orientation, transcripts, advising, and financial aid. A concurrent admission process also means that students may select USC Upstate courses after completing 45 semester hours of credit at Greenville Tech, SCC or SMC.

Upstate Direct Connect© is providing students with a defined pathway from one college to the next while saving a significant amount of money on the total cost of earning a bachelor’s degree,” said Dr. Marsha Dowell, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at USC Upstate. “Students who transfer to USC Upstate as part of Upstate Direct Connect© will have a stronger connection to the University from the very beginning, giving them a head start in succeeding in baccalaureate degree completion.”

“Identifying interested and qualified students for Upstate Direct Connect© in their first two years of college only strengthens the likelihood that these students will, in fact, continue their education and graduate with a four-year degree,” said Sherry H. Vaughn, vice president of academic affairs at Spartanburg Community College. “We are empowering our students with education and knowledge – both powerful tools that have the potential to offer a lifetime of career success and financial earning power.”

Students enrolled in the Upstate Direct Connect© initiative will be given a USC Upstate student identification card, ensuring they will receive many benefits:

  • access to priority registration at USC Upstate, assuring their ability to register for classes before other new students
  • enhanced academic advising including comprehensive on-site advising from both the two-year campuses and USC Upstate advisors
  • Access to the USC Upstate Library, free admission to sporting events, student activities, events featuring guest speakers, and cultural productions

According to Donette Stewart, associate vice chancellor for enrollment services at USC Upstate, Upstate Direct Connect© provides students with three avenues for entry to the program for completion of their bachelor’s degree at USC Upstate. Students may enter at the time of admission to Greenville Tech, SCC or SMC; as a current student at one of the three colleges; or as an applicant to USC Upstate who is not currently eligible for freshman admission. Upstate Direct Connect© differs from the Bridge Program because it is designed for all potential transfer students, instead of just those students not eligible for freshman admission to USC Upstate.

“We are looking forward to working in close partnership with our colleagues at Greenville Tech, SCC and SMC to make Upstate Direct Connect© a great success for students,” said Stewart.  “We currently have more than 800 transfer students from Greenville Tech enrolled on our campus, in addition to 623 transfer students from SCC and 240 from SMC, and I hope we will be able to double that number in the years ahead through this partnership.”

“The ability to give our students a clear pathway to the bachelor’s degree from the day they enroll at Greenville Technical College is a distinct advantage,” said Carolyn Watkins, dean of admissions at Greenville Tech. “Guaranteed admission to USC Upstate and access to resources, speakers and student activities at both institutions will enrich the students’ experience and education.”

“This agreement offers students an even more enhanced seamless transition to USC Upstate to pursue their bachelor degree studies, said Dan Philbeck, vice president for enrollment management at SMC. “A high percentage of our graduates have migrated to USC Upstate over the years because of our close working relationship with our USC Upstate colleagues and our students’ desire to remain in the Upstate area. Through this collaborative effort, our students will be on track to finish their baccalaureate studies at USC Upstate in four years as part of SMC’s 2+2 initiative. Our goal remains to enhance our student’s completion of their educational objectives the same as if they had attended a four-year college initially after high school graduation.”

“This partnership aligns perfectly with SCC’s strategic goals and our responsibility to collaborate with public, private and nonprofit partners in meeting the needs of our students, employers and our community,” said Ron Jackson, vice president of student affairs at Spartanburg Community College.

To learn more about Upstate Direct Connect© at USC Upstate, contact Donette Stewart, associate vice chancellor for enrollment services, at (864) 503-5280 or or visit

To learn more about Upstate Direct Connect© at Greenville Tech, contact Carolyn Watkins, dean of admissions, at or (864) 250-8287.

To learn more about Upstate Direct Connect© at Spartanburg Community College, contact Kathy Jo Lancaster, admissions coordinator at (864) 592-4815 or

To learn more about Upstate Direct Connect© at Spartanburg Methodist College, contact Mike Queen, director of admissions, at (864) 587-4222 or