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PCC-ECU Pact Gives Geology Students Path to Transfer and Pursue Bachelor's Degrees

PCC Instructor Brian Gray, right, speaks with a student about geology during the college's recent Earth Day Fair.

WINTERVILLE—A memorandum of agreement between Pitt Community College and East Carolina University has created a pathway for geology students at Pitt to transfer to the university for bachelor’s degrees in the field.

According to PCC Geology Instructor Brian Gray, the PCC-ECU partnership builds upon the state’s Comprehensive Articulation Agreement, which guides transfer between North Carolina’s public two-year and four-year institutions. The geology agreement, he said, has been signed and will be in place for three years before it is reviewed for renewal.

“Basically, this agreement and the Associate in Science Degree allow students interested in geology to complete the basic, two-year science and general education courses at PCC and slide directly into the Department of Geological Sciences at ECU, where they will start taking advanced geology courses,” Gray said.

Gray, who has been teaching geology at PCC since 2005, says the purpose of the partnership stems from the country’s need for more geoscientists. Citing statistics from the American Geosciences Institute, he said the number of geoscience jobs being created and the number of geoscientists who are retiring and being replaced, far exceeds the total number of new geoscience graduates being produced. The result will be an estimated deficit of 135,000 geoscientists by 2022.

“We will need many more geoscientists in the coming years than we are now producing,” Gray said. “We need to get more students in the pipeline.”

Rather than create a new geology degree from scratch, Gray said he and administrators decided to modify the existing associate in science degree. PCC has contributed 15 percent of ECU’s current geology undergraduate student population and has a 75,000-square-foot science building under construction and slated to open in 2017.

Per the agreement, students taking the geology pathway from PCC to ECU must complete the Associate in Science (for Geology at ECU) Degree at PCC and have at least a 2.5 GPA to earn admission to ECU. Only courses with a grade of ‘C’ or better will transfer, and as many as 63 credit hours of the 126 required for a bachelor’s in geology can be applied. At least 63 hours must be completed at ECU.

Gray said that while they are studying at PCC, students will complete courses like math, physics and chemistry as well as introductory geology courses, such as basic geology, historical geology and environmental geology. Upon completion of their academic requirements at ECU, he said, graduates are awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in geology from the university.

The benefits of the geology articulation are many, Gray said. At a time of decreasing budgets and enrollments at the community college and university levels, he said the agreement will serve as a model for other institutions, raise awareness and promotion of geosciences and keep students local.

Gray said the partnership will also allow PCC and ECU to share faculty through guest lectures, recruiting and career days, share student research opportunities, and create shared grants, coursework and field activities.

“Providing a structured pathway for PCC geology students to transfer to the geology program at East Carolina University creates an avenue for greater student success and employable geoscience graduates,” Gray said.