The path to higher education in York County became seamless Thursday.
Winthrop University and York Technical College officials signed a “bridge” agreement that will allow York Tech graduates to transfer to Winthrop to complete a four-year degree.
York Tech has similar agreements with other schools, such as the University of South Carolina. What’s different about this agreement is that York Tech students will have the chance to experience Winthrop’s campus from the day they enroll at York Tech.
Getting students involved in activities beyond the classroom is critical, retiring Winthrop President Anthony DiGiorgio said, especially for commuter students. The agreement will allow York Tech students to “become part of something ... get attached to people, get attached to activities.”
The agreement should help both schools in recruiting students, he said.
Jack Bagwell, an associate vice president at York Tech, said the agreement will give his students “the best of both worlds ... They get the academic advantage of both York Tech and Winthrop.”
While working on their degrees at York Tech, students will be given a Winthrop identification card for access to:
• The West Center, Winthrop’s physical education and wellness center.
• On-campus sports and cultural events.
• The Dacus Library, Academic Success Center and the Writing Center.
York Tech students also will have access to Winthrop’s admission counselors, academic advisors, peer mentors and early registration for Winthrop classes.
York Tech President Greg Rutherford said the two schools have signed 25 “partnering” agreements over the years. Thursday’s document signing was “icing on the cake,” he said.
“This wouldn’t happen without Tony DiGiorgio’s leadership.”
DiGiorgio’s signature on the agreement is likely his last official act as Winthrop’s president. Friday is his last day, ending 24 years of service to Winthrop and 50 years overall in education.
“I know this business,” DiGiorgio said. “I’ve seen everything you can see. There is never a loss of excitement.”
Thursday’s agreement, he said, will help transform lives.
York County Councilman Bump Roddey attended Thursday’s ceremony to share his experience at the two schools.
“I was on the bridge in 1992,” he said. “I crossed it; I didn’t jump off.”
Roddey enrolled at York Tech the summer after high school graduation, he said, not knowing what he wanted to do. York Tech professors helped him become a better student, he said.
When he transferred to Winthrop, he still wasn’t sure what he wanted to study. He became an economics major. Those studies, he said, “well prepared me for the complex financial issues and budgets I see as a County Council member.”
Tyler Crane, a York Tech student who recently transferred to Winthrop, said the “bridge” arrangement will help students like him “get ahead of the game” and be better prepared.
To prepare students for college, Winthrop and York Tech professors will team-teach a college orientation course at York Tech.