UNION COUNTY — What’s in a name? A lot, especially when it involves changing the name of the Union County Advanced Technology Center to the Spartanburg Community College Union County Campus.
When it was first established, the UCATC was a collaborative effort of SCC and USC Union, both of which made use of the facility to provide additional educational opportunities for the people of Union County. In a May 9 address to the Union County Board of School Trustees, SCC President Dr. Henry Giles said that USC Union will no longer be using the UCATC facility. As a result, Giles said the facility, located at 1401 Furman L. Fendley Highway (US 176), Union, will soon be renamed the Spartanburg Community College Union County Campus.
The new name and what it will mean was discussed further this week by UCATC Site Coordinator Kathy Jo Lancaster who said that the changes will include additional course offerings and increased collaboration with the school district and new partnerships with local businesses and industries.
“Beginning July 1 the Union County Advanced Technology Center will become the Spartanburg Community College Union County Campus,” Lancaster said Wednesday. “We will then be one of five SCC campuses within its service area of Spartanburg, Union, and Cherokee counties.
“We are truly excited about this transition as it will put the college in a position to provide more programs, services, and course offerings to our residents and our workforce partners,” she said. “By having a true presence of Spartanburg Community College in Union County we will have the full resources of the college and will also have the full commitment of the South Carolina Technical College System to provide comprehensive workforce solutions to new and existing industries in Union County.”
Lancaster said that these changes will enable the campus to undertake a series of new educational initiatives including the Union County Adult Education Program, dual credit courses with the district’s Union County Career and Technology Center, and more apprenticeship and other programs involving local industry.
“First of all, Adult Education will be moving to the Spartanburg Community College Union County Campus,” Lancaster said. “We’ll be transitioning the staff and faculty over this summer. This is going to open up a lot of doors for students attending Adult Education by providing a seamless transition to Spartanburg Community College programs.”
At its May 9 meeting, the school board approved a recommendation by Union County School District Director of Instruction Cindy Langley that the district enter into a partnership with SCC to move Adult Ed to the SCC Union County Campus from its current location on Main Street. Langley said the partnership is designed to help Adult Education students earn the academic credentials they need as quickly as possible to make their transition to higher education as smooth as possible.
Giles also addressed the board about the partnership, pointing out that students enrolled in Adult Education were not successful in a high school environment. For those, Giles said Adult Education is seen as a return to high school, a turnoff that he said can prevent them from getting their diploma or GED. By contrast, Giles said Adult Education offered in a college setting can be very attractive to these individuals, making it more likely they will enroll and remain with and successfully complete the program.
In addition, Giles said a college setting can also encourage these students to continue their education as they will be seeing contemporaries and even friends enrolled and taking courses. He said this could give them a feel for campus life and encourage them to seek educational opportunities at the college level. Giles added that SCC already has a dual enrollment program with Cherokee County which gives students enrolled in it a feel for college level studies. He said that the dual enrollment program with Cherokee County and the partnership with the Union County School District are the things communities should do to encourage their residents to get the education they need.
Under the terms of the partnership, Adult Education students will begin taking classes at the SCC Union County Campus in the 2016-2017 school year. Langley said that during that time the school district would remain the “fiscal agent” for the program. In 2017-2018, however, Langley said SCC would take total responsibility for the program including serving as its fiscal agent.
Langley and Giles both added that despite these changes, UCHS would still be issuing the students their diplomas as by law only high schools can issue diplomas. They also pointed out that the state would continue to issue the GEDs as required by law.
Another change accompanying the name change will be the expansion of the dual credit program between the campus and the Union County Career and Technology Center.
“We’re expanding dual credit opportunities with the Union County Career and Technology Center,” Lancaster said. “In the fall our plan is to offer mechatronics dual credit courses to students enrolled at the Career Center. Students will also have more options for additional welding courses and general education courses.
Lancaster said the campus will increase it partnerships with businesses and industries by providing opportunities for apprenticeships and technical scholars.
The increase in partnerships with businesses and industries comes on the heels of the announcement that Carlisle Finishing had joined SCC’s Technical Scholars Program. The program is a partnership between SCC and employers in Cherokee, Spartanburg and Union counties that gives companies the opportunity to sponsor students who enroll in the program, assisting them with their education costs while also employing them on a part-time basis.
The program benefits the students who get their education, along with real world work experience, earn wages by working part-time, and being considered for full-time employment by graduation. It benefits the companies by enabling them to grow their own workforce of educated, trained, skilled and experienced workers.
Carlisle Finishing is sponsoring two Union area students, Cole Sigmon and Brad Allison, both of whom are enrolled SCC’s mechatronics program.
Lancaster said that classes will get under way in August and are scheduled to be held throughout the day, Monday-Friday.
“Mornings will feature Adult Education classes, welding classes, dual enrollment Mechatronics and General Education classes, and SCC curriculum classes,” Lancaster said. “Afternoons will feature dual credit welding classes and Adult Education classes while the evenings will feature mechatronics and curriculum classes.”
The increased number of classes will present some challenges, but Lancaster said that proper scheduling along with some renovations will help the process go smoothly.
“Scheduling will be the key to meeting the needs of all these components,” Lancaster said. “I believe it can be done, but it’s going to require getting the right mix at the right time.”
Lancaster said the campus will also be undergoing some renovations to accommodate all the increased activity. She said the renovations will involve more office areas and up-fitting a new computer lab for the students. She said the campus will make use of a $130,000 Timken grant to purchase the needed equipment.
For more information about the Spartanburg Community College Union County Campus call 864-466-1060.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.