New degree partnership between Radford and VWCC reflects biotechnology’s regional growth
An articulation agreement between Radford University and Virginia Western Community College, signed May 1, not only benefits biotechnology students from both schools but will also mark “the first step of many,” Radford’s President Bret Danilowicz said.
“We do not have a history of a lot of articulations, but this is our point of change as an institution,” Danilowicz told attendees at the signing, held at Fishburn Hall on Virginia Western’s campus in Roanoke.
The union, which starts with the fall 2023 semester, is a new “2 + 2 program,” through which students attend a community college for two years, then transfer to a full-time college or university for their subsequent two years.
Within this new agreement, Virginia Western students who complete an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree in science with a specialization in biotechnology, and who meet all the designated requirements, are guaranteed admission into Radford’s Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in biology program.
As a result, students who participate should be able to earn both their associate and bachelor's degrees more affordably and within four years.
“Ultimately, as higher education gets more expensive, providing a cost-effective pathway for students is very important,” Danilowicz said, adding, “Right now, we’ve got a great transition, and we’ve got an opportunity to bring students to our main campus, which is exciting.”
Virginia Western President Robert Sandel called the agreement “the beginning of many different opportunities between Radford University and Virginia Western Community College.”
“We can be the catalyst that helps other community colleges take advantage of what Radford has to offer for our students’ benefit, and that’s the way we want to go,” Sandel explained.
Virginia Western’s A.S. in science with a concentration in biotechnology is a component of a $15.7 million grant-funded collaboration – with the City of Roanoke, Carilion Clinic, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Verge and Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC – to create a biotechnology incubator in the city and to cultivate the workforce needed to help staff the region’s growing biotechnology sector.
Along with Danilowicz and Sandel, the articulation agreement was also signed by Dean Steven Bachrach of Radford’s Artis College of Science and Technology; Christine Small, professor and interim chair of Radford’s department of biology; Heather Lindberg, biotechnology program head at Virginia Western; and Dean Amy White of Virginia Western’s School of STEM.
“In addition to creating biotechnology opportunities, we are really setting the bar and providing a model for how collaborations and partnerships can work and be executed,” White said at the event.
She also recognized four of the collaboration’s partners: Verge president Erin Burcham, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center’s Chief Executive Officer Brett Malone, Roanoke’s Director of Economic Development Marc Nelson and Innovation Administrator Brad Boettcher.
Additionally, White thanked Radford's Vice President for Economic Development and Corporate Education Angela Joyner and Virginia Western's Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Elizabeth Wilmer.
In order to earn the Bachelor of Science degree, Radford University students must complete at least 120 credit hours, 45 of which must be earned while at Radford, including at least half of the hours in the major.