VGCC and ECU celebrate partnerships to help students complete bachelor’s degrees


A pair of recent agreements between Vance-Granville Community College and East Carolina University – one a new partnership and the other an update to a longstanding program – help put a four-year university degree within reach for more students.

First, a new agreement guarantees eligible VGCC students admission into East Carolina University. Earlier this semester, ECU Interim Chancellor Dr. Ron Mitchelson and VGCC President Dr. Rachel Desmarais signed the “Pirate Promise” Agreement.

The Pirate Promise, a co-admission agreement between the two colleges, will guarantee admission into East Carolina for all Vance-Granville students who fulfill certain criteria. They must be enrolled in, or preparing to enroll in, their first year at the community college in an approved associate degree program. Students must be enrolled full-time (a minimum of 12 hours per semester) unless they are Early College High School or Career and College Promise students, who may be eligible only if they are high school juniors pursuing an approved associate degree. To retain eligibility for the program, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 at VGCC.

The Pirate Promise does not guarantee admission into any specific program or major at East Carolina University.

“We are continuing to provide new pathway opportunities for students which will allow them to enter a four-year institution or go directly into the workforce,” said Dr. Levy Brown, vice president of Learning, Student Engagement & Success/Chief Academic Officer for VGCC. “This is important work and our faculty and staff are glad to be a part of Pirate Promise.”

Representatives from East Carolina University will be on campus soon to answer any questions that students may have about the Pirate Promise Agreement. To learn more about Pirate Promise, contact the VGCC Admissions Office at (252) 738-3234.

Meanwhile, ECU is continuing to partner with Vance-Granville and other colleges to train teachers. Earlier this academic year, East Carolina University celebrated decades of eastern North Carolina partnerships and a program rebrand at an annual College of Education (COE) advisory board meeting on Dec. 4.

Partnership Teach was officially unveiled as the new name for the COE’s online degree completion model. In the program, formerly known as Partnership East, students take courses at a North Carolina community college, like VGCC, and then transfer to ECU to complete a teaching degree.

“The name Partnership East reflected the original footprint which was only in eastern N.C.  We continue to focus our efforts in the east, but over the years, we have expanded our online opportunities to all 100 counties,” said Kathy Bradley, Partnership Teach coordinator. “With this being the last year we receive funding from the SECU Foundation, it was a good time to embrace the name change to Partnership Teach, which better reflects our mission of growing teachers through partnership.”

During the meeting, representatives from Vance-Granville and 22 other two-year and community colleges that compose Partnership Teach renewed their agreements with ECU. Public school systems that are members of the Latham Clinical Schools Network also reaffirmed their commitments.

“All the public school systems in VGCC’s service area are interested in recruiting and developing qualified, dedicated teachers for our communities’ students,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, president of the community college. “VGCC is pleased to help strengthen the pipeline for local residents to become our region’s future teachers.”

“These kinds of partnerships are integral to our work that we do together to prepare educators,” COE Interim Dean Art Rouse said. “The College of Education’s motto is ‘Excellence Through Partnership’ and these partnerships exhibit that motto daily. Our College of Education believes in a clinically based model of educator preparation and we truly cannot accomplish that without the willingness of our public school partners to open their doors and welcome our students into real-life situations. Our college is also committed to access and we could not be accessible to prospective educators without the community college connections and collaborations with our Partnership Teach.”

Agreements with public schools and community colleges help to fulfill ECU’s dedication to eastern North Carolina.

“There’s no better strategy for the future of our region than homegrown talent,” Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson said. “These local pipelines result in a huge level of success for our region and our students.”

Another successful partnership for ECU is the Latham Clinical Schools Network, a group of 43 public school systems in eastern North Carolina that provide classrooms for ECU student teachers. Among them are the four public school systems in VGCC’s service area: Franklin County, Granville County, Vance County and Warren County.

“It shows a commitment of our college to the region and to these public schools that we really care about putting out quality teachers to help the students in this region get a quality education,” said Dr. Vivian Covington, COE assistant dean of undergraduate affairs.

These partnerships have multiple benefits for both the school systems and ECU, especially when it comes to collaborating on educator preparation and grant work.

“We leverage this network in so many ways for student success and for the success of the network and its school systems,” Mitchelson said. “But we also leverage it in very creative ways in terms of professional development and also grant work. I’ve seen a lot of this work firsthand. It’s really exciting. We had a room full of students the other day and their teachers from this network who were focused on the intersection of computational science and art.”

Being able to partner with a wide variety of schools is an invaluable resource for both future teachers and the schools that want to employ them.

“This network is a very rich region of real-world experiences and challenges that our students are exposed to,” Covington said. “We would never dream of preparing teachers without making sure that they are fully steeped in real-life experiences. In order to do that, you have to have a commitment with public school partners.”

Students’ work in public schools begins their sophomore year and culminates in a two-part internship during their senior year.

“The internship is roughly 600 hours and they probably do at least another 80-100 hours between their sophomore and junior years,” Covington said. “They’re getting about 700 hours of on-the-job training before they are hired and I think that’s why our public school partners want our students.”

The partnerships that ECU has with community and two-year colleges benefit the university and colleges beyond increased enrollment. Almost 900 students have graduated from the Partnership Teach degree completion model.

“Many of our students are nontraditional and have experience as teacher assistants,” Bradley said. “They bring a more seasoned perspective to the discussions in the online classes.”

Vance-Granville Community College Logo - A Green V and a Yellow G