Solutions for Higher Education engages in deeper reflection of critical issues in the world of colleges and universities.
In Episode 18, President Scott L Wyatt and Professor Steve Meredith are joined by Brennan Wood, the president of Southwest Technical College, to discuss the new partnership between SUU and Southwest Tech.
Southwest Tech is a technical college offering a trades, hands-on, “boots-on-the-ground” education to students. The accrediting body is the Council on Occupational Education and they offer industry certificates instead of credit hours.
Southern Utah University is a selective, regional comprehensive master’s university with programs that include philosophy and anthropology. SUU does have some technical programs like aviation and flight programs, but overall the only thing in common between SUU and Southwest Tech is that they’re neighbors.
“We have completely different governing structures, but we’ve decided to find a way to get married,” said Wyatt. “Those who register at Southwest Tech are entitled to register for classes at SUU, and those that are going to be admitted and enrolled at SUU can sign up for classes at Southwest Tech.”
The mission sounds simple and will provide a clearer path for students to their dream jobs.
“The goal is for students both at the university and the tech college to have a skill set so they can enter the workforce and be confident in their abilities,” said Wood. “Based on interests, students will have the opportunity to smoothly go back and forth and really gain the marketable skill set that’s required to be successful.”
This partnership will help students who are unsure of what they want to do get both feet in the doors of a university and a tech school, allowing them to try out different programs and careers until they find the perfect fit.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about the student,” said Wood. “It’s providing the student with the education that is required for them to be successful in life, and when it comes down to the decisions that we make, it’s truly about doing the right thing for the student and for the economy as a whole, providing that workforce that will make us successful long-term.”
SUU and Southwest Tech recently received $200,000 of ongoing funding from the Utah Legislature to help develop this partnership into a fully-fledged program.
Sometimes when we are working on this podcast which we call Solutions for Higher Education, it’s sometimes a little bit of a stretch for us to pull back to what our solution actually was for the day,” said Meredith. “But this whole discussion is a solution for higher education. The getting out of our silos, the ideas that rather than being competitive, particularly to entities in a small town, that they can pool their resources and do what is best for students who may be—who are, not may be—who are certainly at that tipping point in their lives where they’re trying to decide exactly what they’d like to pursue next is. That’s the whole reason all of us got into this business I think is this kind of working together and cooperation.”
Listen to Episode 16 here: https://www.suu.edu/presidentspodcast/18