Spartanburg Methodist College board of trustees approves historic four-year degree
On Thursday, May 17, the Spartanburg Methodist College Board of Trustees unanimously approved a recommendation from faculty to offer the first four-year degree program in the college’s 107-year history. Board members also voted to approve the curriculum for the proposed degree, which will be a Bachelor of Arts.
SMC has offered two-year associate degrees since 1927, when it was still named Textile Industrial Institute. College leaders have periodically considered offering four-year degrees since 1991, said James Fletcher Thompson, Chair of SMC’s Board of Trustees. The growing popularity of dual-enrollment programs, in which high school students can earn enough college credits to receive an associate degree, in addition to other market and demographic trends, convinced current Board members that the need was becoming more urgent, he said.
“There is a lot of love for SMC among the Board members, many of whom credit the college with giving them or a family member the chance at an education when other schools wouldn’t,” Thompson said. “It can be hard to see something you love change, but we have confidence in SMC’s leadership and faculty, and we believe this is the best way forward to fulfill the college’s mission.”
In email notifying college employees of the Board’s decision, SMC President Scott Cochran noted it was “historic and a result of tremendous work by the entire campus community.”
SMC students will continue to earn associate degrees in arts, business, science, fine arts, religion and criminal justice, all of which are designed to prepare students to transfer to bachelor’s degree programs in a variety of subjects.
The college’s proposed new Bachelor of Arts degree will offer concentrations in business, religion, English and history, with students required to choose two areas of concentration. Students will also complete 18 hours of professional development training in the form of internships and courses designed to teach workplace skills.
“SMC’s degree is unique in providing an interdisciplinary liberal arts focus complemented by a strong professional development component,” said Dr. Bethany Perkins, Professor of English and chair of the faculty committee that designed the curriculum. “Our graduates will be truly multiskilled.”
The Board’s decision paves the way for college administrators to seek approval to offer the new degree from its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Depending on how quickly approval comes, said Cochran, students could begin enrolling in the new degree program as early as fall 2019.
“I’ve been amazed at the speed of our faculty in taking this new degree from idea to reality,” Cochran said. “They’ve worked incredibly hard, and I believe they’ve come up with a truly innovative program that can solve a lot of the problems we’re hearing from employers, that college graduates aren’t ready for the workplace.”
SMC plans to begin notifying current and prospective students about the proposed bachelor’s degree this summer.