LA PLATA, Md. (April 5, 2016)—The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) signed an articulation agreement March 30 to provide a seamless transition from Associate of Arts in General Studies or Associate of Arts in Arts and Sciences to bachelor degree programs in Building Construction or Real Estate.
"We are privileged to be the first out-of-state institution that has an [undergraduate] agreement with Virginia Tech. Why this is so important is that as a transfer institution, over half of our students—close to 60 percent—expect to transfer. It is our responsibility to have a pathway for them [to complete their bachelor's degree]," said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried.
The agreement stemmed from Chaney Enterprises CEO Frank Chaney's desire to create a pipeline for Southern Maryland students to pursue careers in the building industry. Chaney's own experience as a student at Virginia Tech led him to contact and ultimately bring together administrators from his alma mater and CSM in 2013 to discuss the possibilities of a transfer agreement.
"[The College of Southern Maryland] speaks to the words 'Transforming Lives.' We all agree at Virginia Tech that we need to form that pathway to higher education to transform lives," said Virginia Tech Vice Provost for Enrollment and Degree Management Wanda Hankins Dean, who, along with Myers-Lawson School of Construction Associate Director Dr. Andrew McCoy and Building Construction Department Head Yvan J. Beliveau traveled to Southern Maryland for the ceremony.
Over the past two years, CSM has been collaborating with colleges and universities to make bachelor's degrees affordable and accessible for residents of Southern Maryland, and as a result has more than 50 guaranteed articulation agreements in place for students to start locally and transfer seamlessly to the college of their choice. Last year, more than 1,700 CSM students transferred to 226 different four-year colleges and universities located in 45 states and the District of Columbia, with Virginia Tech among the top-20 colleges and universities who receive CSM students.
This agreement with Virginia Tech provides opportunities that are appropriate for students who have completed an associate degree, earning a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, and plan to pursue a major in construction management or real estate. The real estate degree integrates all components of the real estate industry from conceptualization of a project, through financing to asset management of developed projects. Kevin Boyle, director of the Program in Real Estate, said, "We are pleased to provide a path for CSM graduates to enter successful careers in the real estate industry."
"We are always looking forward at Virginia Tech. The Department of Building Construction is one such innovative department—just look at their motto, 'Change the World, Build the Future.' That means always striving to find the new technologies needed, new skill sets, new best practices to make certain we are preparing students to emerge into the world as engaged citizens not only in their local communities but nationally and globally. That's what we look for when we are looking for students who desire to attend Virginia Tech," Dean said.
Students in the Virginia Tech Building and Construction Program work on community service projects throughout the country and the world, including rebuilding refugee camps or towns devastated by natural disasters, said Dean.
Referencing U.S. employment projections, Virginia Tech reports students with a bachelor's degree in construction science, construction management or construction/civil engineering, coupled with construction experience, will have excellent job prospects. Virginia Tech's Department of Building Construction has reported 100 percent job placement by its graduates for the last five years in various traditional positions such as field engineers, project managers, estimators and field superintendents as well as jobs in development, IT and others. The median starting salary for these graduates is $60,000.
"What a great opportunity this is for all of us. A lot of times, construction is just considered a two-year degree and then there is going to be a job at the end of that pathway. With this agreement, there is a great opportunity for students to be able to finish a bachelor's degree and pretty much have a job guarantee on the back side of it," said CSM Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Eileen Abel.
"Congratulations, to you in the audience for what you have accomplished," said Maryland Higher Education Commission Secretary James C. Fielder Jr. "Thanks, also to Frank for the long-term commitment he made to get this started. You saw the barren field and said, 'Okay, what can we put there?' You had this vision, and now we're getting ready to pour the foundation."
Fielder said that higher education in Maryland should focus on what students really want and what industry really needs. "When you put those together, that is what we need to be doing on a regular basis."
Reading from an email that Chaney sent to Virginia Tech's provost explaining his idea, Chaney said, "Since the 1980s I've had a dream to create an articulating career path for the overall construction, building and mining industries. …With my dream, at least the industries would have an easy map to show how diverse, exciting and flexible these industries are. A high school student should be able to intern in these industries, jump from one blue collar segment such as carpentry to one white collar segment such as engineering with ease. All in all, they should have the ability to find a job they love in order to achieve the American dream."
"A 1979 graduate of Virginia Tech, Mr. Frank Chaney is a good friend of the College of Southern Maryland," Gottfried said. "As chairman of the board at Chaney Enterprises, Frank has been a strong advocate of the college and a believer in supporting educational opportunities for the community through scholarships, equipment donations for training purposes and the essential funds to further develop our programs. We are especially grateful for his focus on partnering with his alma mater, offering our students an opportunity to partner with a standout division I research institution."
For information on the CSM and Virginia Tech articulation agreement, as well as more than 50 other transfer articulation agreements, visit http://www.csmd.edu/student-services/advising/transfer-services/. For information on the Virginia Tech Building Construction Program, visit http://www.bc.vt.edu/about. For information on the Virginia Tech Program in Real Estate, visit http://www.realestate.vt.edu/. For photos from the signing ceremony, visit http://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/csmvatech.