The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission has formally announced that all 12 of West Virginia's public undergraduate colleges and universities will team up in order to help more adults return to college and earn a degree.
Bluefield State College, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Marshall University, Potomac State College of West Virginia University, Shepherd University, West Liberty University, West Virginia State University, West Virginia University, West Virginia University Institute of Technology and West Virginia University at Parkersburg will participate in an initiative called RBA Today, a collaborative effort led by the Commission.
"Gov. Joe Manchin has said that we have an opportunity to increase both the aspiration and the attainment levels for the citizens of the state. The RBA Today initiative is one way to help adults finish higher education degrees they started but could not finish because life got in their way. Fairmont State University is proud to be part of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission's efforts to reach out to our state's adult learners," said FSU President Tom Krepel.
RBA Today enhances the state's existing Regents Bachelor of Arts (RBA) program, a flexible degree option designed to help adults earn a bachelor's degree while juggling other commitments, such as work and family. By taking part in RBA Today, the participating colleges and universities will be providing extra support and services to adult students seeking to complete a bachelor's degree. Beginning this fall, participating institutions will offer new courses in compressed time frames, personalized counseling and support, and extended learning and service hours to accommodate adult students' often busy schedules.
Gov. Joe Manchin applauded the Commission and the state's colleges and universities for providing innovative strategies to help adults in West Virginia pursue higher education.
"West Virginia is filled with talented, hard-working and determined people, and there are many opportunities for them to harness that dedication for the betterment of not only themselves and their families, but also the entire state," Manchin said. "West Virginia's colleges and universities have long provided excellent educational opportunities for students. This initiative is a chance for adults to pursue quality education programs, earn degrees more efficiently and develop promising careers."
Chancellor Brian Noland said he hopes the accommodations made through RBA Today will encourage adults to go back to school and complete a degree.
"More than 85,000 adults in West Virginia have completed some college, but have not earned a degree," Noland said. "The RBA program and the options available through RBA Today can help those individuals return to school and achieve a lifelong dream of obtaining a college degree."
Suzanne Shipley, President of Shepherd University, leads the Commission's Adult Learner Task Force, which spearheaded the RBA Today initiative.
"RBA Today builds on an already successful program," Shipley said. "These institutions have offered the RBA degree for quite some time, but now they've committed to providing the support networks adult students need to be successful in college through a high-quality curriculum that will be delivered in an accelerated timeframe."
According to Shipley, students will now be able to earn their degrees more quickly and join the nearly 8,000 West Virginians who have completed the RBA degree during the past decade. Students will have the option to take rigorous courses online and during the evenings and weekends. Students can even gain credit for previously completed coursework and work experience.
"Fairmont State University looks forward to participating in the RBA Today initiative. Faculty members at FSU have developed three courses that will be offered online and in a compressed timeframe to encourage degree completion," said Dr. Maria Rose, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs for FSU.
"We hope that this flexible program will provide adult students who have started but not completed a degree with the motivation to come back and finish their degrees."
For more information about the RBA degree and RBA Today, visit www.cfwv.com/rba-today.
For more information on the RBA degree at Fairmont State University, call Pamela Stephens at (304) 367-4801 or e-mail her at Pamela.Stephens@fairmontstate.edu.