MASON CITY - Officials from North Iowa Area Community College and the University of Iowa signed an agreement Wednesday that will allow students to complete their first two years of a bachelor's degree at NIACC and the final two online.
Students will be able to take the online classes at NIACC or even at home.
Sally Mason, president of the University of Iowa, said the partnership will allow students who already have full-time jobs and family commitments in North Iowa to get their bachelor's degree from the university without having to "uproot their lives."
The university has entered into similar agreements with several other community colleges in Iowa over the past year.
NIACC President Deb Derr said similar agreements between community colleges and universities in other parts of the country have been successful.
Those who participate in the program will likely stay in Iowa "and become productive members of our workforce," she said.
The agreement will allow students who are completing their associate of art, associate of science or associate in applied science degree to complete their bachelor of liberal studies or bachelor of applied studies degree near home without having to drive to the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City.
Mason said students won't be able to complete some majors, such as engineering, through the partnership.
However, in the liberal arts and sciences, "you can draft a curriculum that's pretty flexible," she said.
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Don Kamps, partnership coordinator for NIACC and the University of Iowa, can help students draft that curriculum.
Kamps, who used to be the evening dean at NIACC, was asked to come out of retirement to be the partnership coordinator. His new job began in May.
Kamps, a University of Iowa graduate, has been assisting students transferring from NIACC to the University of Iowa.
For example, if students are planning to enter the pharmacy program at the university, he can advise them which classes at NIACC would be good ones to take.
He also trying to establish opportunities for North Iowans to earn post-graduate degrees, such as a master's in social work, from the University of Iowa close to home.
His new office hours on the NIACC campus are 1-4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Students can stop by his office or call 641-422-4298 to make an appointment.