Thanks to a pact signed Friday, Germanna Community College students who transfer to the University of Mary Washington will have a better shot at succeeding in their education and careers.

UMW President Troy D. Paino and GCC President Janet Gullickson signed a Guaranteed Transfer Partnership Agreement between the two schools Friday afternoon during a ceremony in the Workforce Building on Germanna’s Fredericksburg Area Campus in Spotsylvania County.

The new partnership creates “curricular pathways” that will speed students’ transition from the college to the university, making that move easier and reducing student debt, Germanna and UMW officials said.

Gullickson and Paino said that will bring bachelor’s degrees within reach of a broader, more diverse group of students, by helping them graduate sooner and more efficiently.

The pact codifies the already-excellent partnership between the University of Mary Washington and Germanna Community College, Gullickson said.

“This agreement will help our community, our families, our businesses, our economic development, strengthening equity and upward mobility,” she said. “A hands-on partnership, it will provide that extra care which some students need so they too can have success.”

Many community college students are the first person in their families to enter college, and they may work two or three jobs to make ends meet while they’re in school, Gullickson noted.

Paino said the pact closely aligns with UMW’s larger mission of diversity and inclusion. “It’s imperative that we bring together students from varied backgrounds and diverse perspectives, who not only learn together, but work together to solve problems and serve our communities,” he said.

“This is about breaking down barriers between K–12 grades, community college and the university for our students,” UMW Provost Nina Mikhalevsky told the audience of about 100 people before the presidents’ signing ceremony. “All of our partners are interested in making that happen so we don’t lose students along the way. Because we do lose them.”

Many students take course credits they don’t need, accumulate debt, get discouraged and many do not make it to graduation, even in community college, Mikhalevsky said.

“Our plan is that this partnership will stop that,” she said.

The pact goes well beyond UMW’s long-held Guaranteed Transfer Agreement with the Virginia Community College System, which assures admission to graduates of the state’s 23 community colleges, including Germanna.

When a community college student earns an associate’s degree, UMW already allowed them to transfer all 60 credits, unlike some other four-year colleges.

But the new agreement streamlines that process so students can see the shortest, clearest way to a bachelor’s degree, officials said.

The agreement outlines specific curricular pathways for majors in psychology, business, biology, education, computer science, English and history, Gullickson wrote in her email.

As tasked by their presidents, UMW and Germanna faculty members will soon start meeting to determine the most efficient collaboration for those popular majors.

Students will be able to follow a road map listing particular courses so they know every single credit will count toward their desired bachelor’s degree, said Heather Diritto, a counselor at Germanna’s Career and Transfer Center.

Under the agreement, the university and college will collaborate on developing a reverse-transfer protocol, to make it simpler for UMW students to transfer to Germanna for coursework there.

It also waives the $50 application fee to UMW, and suggests extracurricular social activities between the two schools, including a “GCC Night” to welcome Germanna students who transfer to UMW.

Leaders from the state community college system, Spotsylvania County schools, and the Stafford and Spotsylvania boards of supervisors attended Friday’s event.

In 2002, Mary Washington College President William M. Anderson Jr. and Germanna President Frank Turnage signed a similar, direct-transfer agreement for the Mary Washington’s bachelor of professional studies program, which has since been eliminated.

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