Nathan Hope / Copy Editor

Keene State is looking to strengthen its partnership with River Valley Community College (RVCC) in an effort that KSC President Melinda Treadwell says benefits both institutions.

“We help them because they reduce their physical plant expenses, we help them because they’re able to bring their students to a full and vibrant campus experience. They help us by covering costs associated with some fixed facilities that we’re not using to their full extent,” Treadwell said at the Feb. 13 State of the College address.

Treadwell went on to explain that KSC’s partnership with RVCC is a notable part of the college’s enrollment strategy going forward, “The future of post-secondary education in our state commands us to think more creatively,” she said.

Though RVCC’s primary campus lies in Claremont, N.H., their ‘academic center’ in Keene was co-located with KSC back in late 2019, according to a press release by the Community College System of New Hampshire. The Keene location originally stood at 438 Washington St. RVCC currently rents the Cheshire House building at 67 Winchester St.

According to the Nov. 15, 2019, press release, the co-location agreement also granted RVCC students access to various resources on KSC’s campus; including classrooms, the library, the gym, and dining halls, among others.

In the State of the College address, Treadwell explained that the importance of increasing a relationship with RVCC lies within “easier transfer pathways” that would allow RVCC students to transfer to KSC more seamlessly.

Treadwell made note of the work that the Faculty Affairs office has been doing to make transferring more accessible. Professor Michael Welsh has been part of the team identifying and tackling the challenges RVCC students may face in making the transition.

Welsh identified one area of concern being RVCC’s amount of three-credit courses, while KSC operates on a four-credit system, “Either all classes being three credits or some classes being three credits is one of the problematic features of transition from community college to a four-year institution that has a four-credit model,” Welsh said.

According to RVCC’s course catalog, 269 courses are offered to students, primarily in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). Over 60% of the course offering are three-credit classes. Nearly 18% of the course offering are four-credit classes. Of the four-credit classes, over 50% are in the Biology and Mathematics programs, with both programs being nearly fully outfitted with four-credit offerings. Another challenge that Welsh made mention of was the differences in General Education programs between institutions,

“Those [General Education] programs tend to have requirements built into them that may not be the same kinds of requirements built into other colleges,” Welsh said,

“Students will come here looking to get out as quickly as possible, then they’ll realize they have to work on a category of ISP, when really they just wanted to spend the last two years working on their science degree,” he explained Professor James Kraly, who works in the Faculty Affairs office, said, while historically there’s been articulation agreements between community colleges and four-year institutions about credit-transfer, there has been conversations more recently statewide about moving to a new transfer model.

“A block-transfer approach is where you’re acknowledging a student has already completed a body of work, maybe an Associate’s Degree, and giving the appropriate credit to that and a pathway that shows them toward the finish line in a timeline that fits their needs,” Kraly explained.

As things currently stand with the credit-transfer approach, Welsh explained that articulation agreements can be easily disrupted by changes in programs or courses at an institution.

“As soon as a community college changes its curriculum, changes a course number, changes the content of a course, changes the title of a course or as soon as we change a course in some way…then the agreement isn’t transferred as easily,” Welsh stated.

According to KSC’s website, the latest articulation agreement between RVCC and KSC, uploaded in July of 2018, was last updated Feb. 2017 to reflect changes made to the Early Childhood Education portion of the agreement. The agreement’s stated purpose is to provide “seamless access to baccalaureate level study” for RVCC students who complete Associate degrees in one of five degree programs.

The five programs listed in the agreement are two different Computer Technology programs, as well as the Early Childhood Education, Teacher Education, and Business Management programs at RVCC.

Welsh proposed that a solution to disruptions in articulation agreements could be increased communication between institutions, as well as communicating KSC’s curriculum more efficiently to prospective transfer students. Welsh and Kraly both agreed that RVCC’s physical proximity to KSC makes transferring easier culturally, as students are already accustomed to the region. Treadwell noted in the State of the College address that part of the college’s work with RVCC and other in-state community colleges was to ensure students stay in N.H.

“It’s our job to raise awareness about all the great reasons to live here, study here, and stay here,” Kraly said.

Nathan Hope can be contacted at

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