From left: Gregory T. DeCinque, interim president of Tidewater Community College; John T. Dever, president of Thomas Nelson CC; James M. Shaeffer, president of Eastern Shore CC; Daniel W. Lufkin, president of Paul D. Camp CC; and John R. Broderick, president of ODU sign the agreement at Broderick Dining Commons. Photo Chuck Thomas/ODU

Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick and the presidents of four community colleges signed a Guaranteed Transfer Partnership Agreement Friday, expanding the University’s collaborative initiatives with regional higher education institutions.

The agreement will facilitate the seamless transfer of students attending Hampton Roads Strategic Transfer Alliance (HRSTA) schools – Eastern Shore, Paul D. Camp, Thomas Nelson and Tidewater community colleges – to ODU.

The agreement also facilitates a reverse-transfer program which helps participants transfer ODU credit back to the community colleges, allowing them to earn their associate’s degrees while being enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program.

Brian Payne, ODU’s vice provost for academic affairs, noted that under Broderick’s leadership, the University has developed four transfer centers across Hampton Roads and more than 200 articulation agreements that link community college programs to ODU’s bachelor’s degree programs.

“We were curious about how we compared to other institutions, so we contacted VCCS (Virginia Community College System),” he said. “The response was, ‘Nobody holds a candle to ODU when it comes to the number of articulation agreements.’”

Payne said participants at a recent meeting that he and Provost Austin Agho attended asked how to convince leadership to care about transfers.

“To me, it was like asking, ‘How do we breathe?’” Payne said. “Because it’s such a natural thing for us at ODU that we don’t have to convince our leadership to care about transfers because our leadership has already convinced us that these are important efforts.”

Broderick called the agreement, which was two years in the making, “a wonderful opportunity.”

“This is important for us,” he said. “But more importantly, it’s a key moment for Virginia students that are going to come through your campuses here and vice versa. And hopefully, some of that reverse transfer piece also helps you with those all-important graduation rates. “

VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois is particularly impressed with the reverse transfer aspect of the agreement.

“This is something that all universities should be doing with their partner community colleges,” he said. “It’s good for the individual and good for the Commonwealth.”

The community college presidents praised ODU’s leadership in regional collaborations.

“Within my first month on the job as president – I’ve been there for three years – it was ODU who reached out to me and said we would love to come to speak to you about how we can help those students transfer from the community college to the four-year university,” Paul D. Camp’s Daniel Lufkin said. “We can help them do that. We understand your students. We have resources available.”

Eastern Shore CC President James Shaeffer cited the obstacles students at his school can face – nutrition, homelessness, transportation and getting scholarships. Given that, the way agreement facilitates the attainment of a degree is a huge benefit.

“This is so important because it provides a path,” he said, “and it’s not a path with speed bumps.

“It is a path where you have an HOV lane.”