Leaders of Blue Ridge Community College and Gardner-Webb University gather to sign a new transfer agreement on Nov. 4, 2022. (Photo by: Cyrus Richer / GWU Photo Staff. Used with permission. Read Gardner-Webb’s announcement, and view additional photos.)
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HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – Blue Ridge Community College students graduating with degrees in information technology now have expanded four-year higher education pathways thanks to a new collaborative agreement with Gardner-Webb University (GWU).
Blue Ridge students who earn an Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology-Cybersecurity or an Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology-Network Management are now able to transfer those credits to pursue a Bachelor of Science at Gardner-Webb.
The articulation agreement was signed by Blue Ridge President Dr. Laura B. Leatherwood and GWU President Dr. William Downs on Friday, November 4, 2022, on Gardner-Webb’s campus in Boiling Springs.
“As partners in higher education, we at Blue Ridge Community College are thrilled to deepen our relationship with Gardner-Webb University through the formation of two new information technology and cybersecurity pathways,” said Dr. Leatherwood. “This agreement will ultimately give students a clear path into a segment of the workforce that is critical to the success of all industries.”
This new arrangement adds to previous transfer agreements established between Gardner-Webb and Blue Ridge on Oct. 10, 2019.
“Think about how the world has changed since Gardner-Webb and [Blue Ridge Community College] last sat down to sign an agreement of this magnitude,” observed GWU President Dr. William Downs. “Both institutions have survived a global pandemic and a tumultuous economic rollercoaster, and both have come out stronger on the other side. Now we’re ready to renew our commitment to making high-demand degrees both affordable and accessible to our students. Any day we can strengthen or extend partnerships is a good day, and this is a very good day for the students of our region.”
Brenda Blackburn, Blue Ridge dean of business and service careers, emphasized the work put in by both schools to build this agreement.
“We have a wonderful partnership with Gardner Webb University including many articulated programs,” she said. “We are very excited to add Information Technology to that list. This will allow our students a great choice in continuing their education at the bachelor’s level. Many thanks to both teams for getting this through to completion.”
Jana Hosmer, faculty chair of business programs, was particularly pleased with the streamlining of the process for the students seeking this degree route.
“We are excited to partner with GWU to provide a clear online pathway for students interested in joining the high-demand career field of cybersecurity,” Hosmer said.
The collaboration continues a strong year for cybersecurity training at Blue Ridge Community College. In August, the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States of America designated Blue Ridge as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CD), an honor held by only 15 other North Carolina institutions.
Blue Ridge’s robust Information Technology programs include associate degree pathways in Computer Programming and Development, Game and Simulation Programming, Network Management, Support and Services, and Cybersecurity. An Artificial Intelligence pathway is in development for the fall of 2023. Short-term certificate programs are also available for Computer Programming, and Networking and Cybersecurity.