UT-Pellissippi Sign Agreement Enhancing Volunteer Bridge Program

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L to R: Matthew Krebs, Pellissippi Community College President Anthony Wise, UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek, and Marcus Hudson. Krebs, of Knoxville, is a sophomore in political science. He attended Knoxville Catholic High School and was in the 2012-13 bridge cohort. Hudson, of Memphis, is from the 2011-12 cohort and is now a junior in kinesiology.

L to R: Matthew Krebs, Pellissippi Community College President Anthony Wise, UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek, and Marcus Hudson. Krebs, of Knoxville, is a sophomore in political science. He attended Knoxville Catholic High School and was in the 2012-13 bridge cohort. Hudson, of Memphis, is from the 2011-12 cohort and is now a junior in kinesiology.

A bridge program that allows students to have dual enrollment and seamless transfer between Pellissippi State Community College and UT will open its doors to more students and become more affordable, thanks to changes being implemented for the coming year.

UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek and Pellissippi President Anthony Wise met at 10:00 a.m. today to sign a memorandum of understanding enhancing the Volunteer Bridge Program.

Changes to the program—which include making the timeline more flexible and allowing students to commute to UT rather than live on campus—reflect UT’s pledge to President Barack Obama to increase accessibility, especially for low-income students.

Recently renamed to emphasize its goal of helping students get to UT, the Volunteer Bridge Program began in 2011. During the past two years, about eighty-six students have successfully completed the program. Another thirty-eight are currently enrolled.

“With almost three years of experience under our belt, we took a look at what we could do to make the program less expensive and more attractive to prospective students. We also wanted to bring Bridge requirements more in line with regular admission requirements,” Cheek said.

Here are the key changes to the Volunteer Bridge Program:

  • More students—A greater number of students will be invited to participate. To be eligible, students must have applied to attend UT, but not been granted immediate admission. The goal is to have a class of seventy-five to one hundred bridge students in the 2014-2015 class.
  • Flexible start date—Students chosen for the 2014-2015 bridge class will have the flexibility of beginning in the summer or fall.
  • Extra summer to complete requirements—Students can start in the summer of 2014 to get a head start on their studies or attend the summer of 2015 to catch up if they’re behind. Students also will have the option of attending both summers.
  • Commute option—Bridge students will be welcome to live in a UT residence hall or commute to campus, provided they live within fifty miles of UT. Those who live on campus will reside in the Volunteer Bridge Living Learning Community.
  • Holistic review—As in the past, students who complete thirty transferrable hours and have a 2.5 bridge GPA will be guaranteed transfer admission to UT. But now, students who complete the hours, but have a GPA of 2.0 to 2.49 will be placed under holistic review for admission.

“For students whose goal is to get a degree from UT, the Volunteer Bridge Program may provide an excellent pathway,” Cheek said. “It allows them to transition to college learning and UT with the support of both institutions.

“During my recent visit to the White House for the summit on higher education, the University of Tennessee committed to enhance our transfer programs as part of our efforts to make UT more accessible and affordable,” Cheek said. “These changes to the Volunteer Bridge program will help accomplish this.”

In addition to enhancing the Volunteer Bridge Program, UT is hiring additional professional staff to assist other community college students ensure a smooth transfer to UT and adjust to university life.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely  (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)

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