Claflin University and the University of South Carolina have teamed up to create a more diverse pool of professionals in the communications industry with the development of a dual-degree program.
Officials from the state's oldest historically Black university and UofSC converged upon Claflin's Minister's Hall on Wednesday morning to sign a memorandum of agreement to launch the "4+1" dual-degree program
Under the program, an undergraduate student at Claflin can earn a bachelor’s degree and continue on to UofSC to earn either a master’s of mass communications degree with a concentration in strategic communication or multimedia journalism, or a master’s of library and information science degree.
Claflin President Dr. Dwaun Warmack thanked UofSC President Robert Caslen for his commitment to creating a seamless and affordable way for students to pursue their education in multiple fields in the communications industry.
For example, as part of the MOA, UofSC's College of Information and Communications will provide a minimum of $2,500 in Dean's Fellowship funding to Claflin's 4+1 dual-degree program students to support their enrollment as non-degree graduate students at USC.
"I just want to publicly thank President Caslen for all of his support and commitment to higher education, but also to HBCUs," Warmack said.
"This MOA here is even more important when you think about the significant need for developing well-talented students that are trained in journalism and mass communications.
"This 4+1, five-year degree program will allow students at Claflin University to matriculate three years and begin their fourth year to start in graduate school at USC. After their fifth year, they will have a dual degree from Claflin University in mass communications and master's degree from USC in mass communications," he said.
"The curriculums are aligned, that's how you create the MOA with the courses that are needed. The first three years includes mandatory course work that is needed to get to that first year of graduate school. So students have to be on track," Warmack said.
Claflin's president said the MOA was just the beginning of the development of future dual-degree programs, including a "3+3" dual-degree program with UofSC's law school.
"We're in the early development stages of that one, and the pharmacy school. So we're excited about the long-term relationship that we'll have," Warmack said.
Caslen said, "We're reaching out right now to every single one of the HBCUs within the state of South Carolina, and our strategic plan has the metric to make sure that every single one of our colleges – not just journalism and communication – but every single one of our colleges" has a pathway for the development of a dual-degree program.
"We will increase the number of bachelor's and master's and accelerated programs with HBCUs so that every college will have a 3+2 or 4+1 program with an HBCU by 2025," he said.
Caslen said the MOA is one of the ways UofSC is working to address its "diversity challenges."
"We agree that as a flagship university in the state of South Carolina, it is so tremendously important that we reflect South Carolina, that we serve the people of South Carolina, and to develop a trust relationship with South Carolina. ...
"So it's opportunities like this that really provide pathways and provide opportunities for well-qualified students to come and to be able to get a dual-degree ... and to be able to make this opportunity happen is really exciting for all of us," Caslen said.
The UofSC president added, "We're also looking at ways to also have similar programs for our faculty members so that we can generate pathways for Claflin graduates who come into the University of South Carolina graduate school to get a doctorate and then to be professors at the University of South Carolina.
"Dr. Warmack and I have talked about that, and we're pursuing those opportunities as well. That's very important for us that we do that."
Warmack said the MOA agreement creates a tremendous advantage for students at Claflin, which U.S. News and World Report ranks among the nation's top 10 HBCUs in the country, by "eliminating one year of debt" and also allowing students to get into the workforce faster.
Claflin serves a large percentage of students who are eligible for federal Pell grants and that the university has worked on ways to make education more affordable, particularly for low-income and first-generation college students, by "providing the right support mechanisms for those students ... in any MOA or MOU that I create."
Caslen said UofSC is eager to "create pathways for underrepresented and first-generation young men and women who aspire to higher education" with initiatives such as the MOA with Claflin.
"This is one huge way to make that happen. As a flagship university, we ought to look like the people of South Carolina," he said.
Contact the writer: email@example.com or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter at @DionneTandD.
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