Clark Atlanta, Georgia Piedmont Technical Enter Partnership | WABE 90.1 FM

Clark Atlanta, Georgia Piedmont Technical Enter Partnership

Feb 16, 2017

Clark Atlanta University students will soon be able to take classes at Georgia Piedmont Technical College and vice versa, thanks to a new public-private partnership announced Wednesday.

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The president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Jabari Simama and Clark Atlanta University president Ronald Johnson sign the agreement to allow students to take classes at either school.
Credit Mario Boone / Clark Atlanta University

Essence Jones, a 19-year-old freshman at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, is studying business management at the school's main campus in Clarkston.

"You can start from GED and go straight to a PhD and I feel like that's amazing because I was a GED student myself,” Jones said. “So for us to have that opportunity, it's something else."

Jones said she’s looking forward to taking classes at Clark Atlanta University toward a bachelor's degree. In the fall of 2017, Clark Atlanta University students will also be able to earn technical certificates through Georgia Piedmont Technical College.

National Model

Georgia Piedmont Technical College President Jabari Simama, who is a Clark Atlanta University alumnus, said he approached Clark Atlanta University, which is an HBCU (historically black colleges and university) about a year ago.

The president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Jabari Simama signed an agreement with Clark Atlanta University president Ronald Johnson to allow students to take classes at either school. Simama is an alumnus of Clark Atlanta University.
Credit Courtesy of GPTC

"If we're looking at each other as competing for the same meager dollars and competing for the same students, the fact of the matter is there are large number of students who are not touched by the community technical college system or by HBCUs," Simama said.

Clark Atlanta University president Ronald Johnson said the two schools complement each other and this partnership could help other HBCUs.

"We have a TV station, they have a set design program,” Johnson said. “You put that together, you actually have magic."

Students who want to attend Clark Atlanta University but don’t meet the academic requirements can take remedial classes at Georgia Piedmont Technical College until they are ready for college-level classes.

Graduate students will also be able to teach as adjunct faculty at Georgia Piedmont under the new agreement.

Reverse Transfer

Joel Alvarado is director for Community Outreach and Engagement at Georgia Piedmont Technical College. He said it’s common for students to start at community technical colleges like Georgia Piedmont and transfer to four year universities like Clark Atlanta University without finishing their associate’s degree or certificates.

Presidents of Clark Atlanta University and Georgia Piedmont Technical College signed a new partnership agreement on Wednesday at Clark Atlanta University's campus.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

“You could use the credits that you get from Clark Atlanta and reverse transfer them and have them count towards a credential at Georgia Piedmont so you can leave with some credential,” Alvorado said. “A lot of people go to college, they get into huge debt but they don’t get anything out of it. We want to stop that.”

The new partnership will allow students to return to Georgia Piedmont and combine college credits from both institutions towards an associate degree. 

Graduation Rates

The graduation rate at Clark Atlanta is 66 percent, while it’s 74 percent at Georgia Piedmont Technical College.

Presidents of both schools said they expects the move to boost enrollment at both institutions.

"The cost of education is high and therefore you lose students because they don't have the financial resources to continue," Johnson said. "If you start out with limited or negative net worth, it's very, very difficult for you to stay in school.”

Presidents of Clark Atlanta University and Georgia Piedmont Technical College signed a new partnership agreement on Wednesday at Clark Atlanta University's campus.
Credit Courtesy of Clark Atlanta University

Johnson said he wants his school to help students, “who started out, life happened, and now they’re coming back to get the education and skills they need."

Community Technical College

Georgia Piedmont Technical College changed its name from DeKalb Technical College in 2000 and expanded from its main campus in Clarkston to Rockdale, Newton and Morgan counties.

It used to be part of Georgia Perimeter College, which recently merged with Georgia State University.

A committee made up of administrative staff from both schools will meet periodically to follow through on the implementation of the partnership and analyze its impact.