SPARTANBURG — Converse College and the University Center of Greenville, Inc. (UCG) announce the addition of Converse College as the University Center’s seventh Academic Member. Converse will begin offering its co-educational Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Early Childhood Education degree at the University Center in July 2018, and plans to expand with several additional programs in the near future. Converse’s MAT will meet the high demand in the greater Greenville area for college graduates seeking a career in teaching, and will help address teacher shortages at the state and national levels.
Converse anticipates launching its Master of Marriage and Family Therapy degree at UCG in fall 2019, and is actively working on other programs to announce soon.
As an Academic Member of UCG, Converse joins fellow institutions Anderson University, Clemson University, Furman University, Greenville Technical College, the University of South Carolina, and the University of South Carolina Upstate.
“Converse is rapidly growing, with our undergraduate enrollment at a 25-year high and graduate program offerings expanding on campus, online, in 35 school districts across our state, and now also at the University Center in Greenville. Our new presence in Greenville will provide convenient access to students in this area and will help to fill Greenville’s workforce development needs,” said Converse President Krista Newkirk. “Opening with our graduate programs at UCG – and particularly with our MAT that is in such high demand for career-changers interested in early childhood education – is the perfect launch pad for our continued growth.”
David A. Taylor, CEO and President of UCG, welcomed Converse as a member of the University Center, commenting, “The addition of prestigious Converse College to UCG’s collaboration of the region’s leading universities further strengthens our ability to fulfill UCG’s mission of advancing access and attainment of higher education degrees, benefitting the citizens and economic community of greater Greenville, South Carolina.”
Dr. Lienne Medford, Dean of Graduate Studies and Distance Learning at Converse, is leading Converse’s program expansion to the University Center. “I am delighted that Converse is joining the UCG collaborative. Converse is known for its hands-on, student-centered approach and our faculty and staff look forward to bringing our distinctive brand of personal advising, coaching, and assistance in achieving life and career goals to students at UCG,” she said.
Classes for the MAT in Early Childhood Education will be offered at the University Center beginning in July. The competitively priced, 46-hour program is open to students with a bachelor’s degree in any field and provides teaching certification to work with young children (birth to third grade) in a classroom
setting. It will take just a year to a year-and-a-half to complete, depending on previous education and preparation. “The program is ideal for people changing careers or returning to the workforce after a break, such as raising children,” said Medford. “Providing this population with a convenient, face-to-face program that helps them successfully transition into teaching has the potential to significantly impact early childhood teacher shortages in Greenville and the Upstate.”
Underscoring the rise in teacher shortages across the state, South Carolina’s Center for Education Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) reported 481 vacant positions in schools statewide at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, up by 32 vacancies from the previous year. Just over 19% of all vacancies require the early childhood certification that will be provided by Converse at UCG. “Finding new teachers can be difficult for many districts, particularly with the state’s ongoing trend of more teachers leaving, more vacancies to fill, and fewer S.C. graduates eligible for teacher certification each year,” said Dr. Jennifer Garrett, Coordinator of Research & Program Development for CERRA, in her report on the 2016 Supply and Demand Survey.
“Converse is well known across this region for excellence, particularly in teacher education at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and has prepared thousands of teachers across South Carolina and beyond for successful careers. The Converse MAT is one of the most respected education programs across our state and region, and bringing it to the University Center makes it easily accessible to residents from the greater Greenville area who wish to transition from their current career fields into teaching,” said Taylor.
Since joining Converse in 2016, President Newkirk has actively sought opportunities to learn about workforce development needs from the Upstate area business community. As a member of the OneSpartanburg Talent Action Team, she is helping create a formal framework for convening large employers and colleges to discuss unmet workforce needs, technical skills, and behavioral competency gaps employers are seeing, and professional development needs colleges may provide for area employers. “Converse will use this information to evaluate how we are delivering our curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” she said. “I would like to expand this conversation into the Greenville area, including ways Converse can help fill needs for professional development and continuing education for employees of Greenville area businesses.”
A U.S. News & World Report Best Value in the South, Converse College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Its education programs are also accredited by Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and its Marriage and Family Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). All program offerings at UCG are pending accreditor approval.
About Converse College
Converse College was founded in 1889 by citizens of Spartanburg, S.C. to create an educational experience that enables women “to see clearly, decide wisely, and act justly.” Today, Converse is a visionary, comprehensive college pushing beyond traditional boundaries to make a quality educational experience available to every student who seeks it – both at the undergraduate level for women and at the post-graduate level for men and women. Converse’s mission is to help students develop their unique voice, a sense of value, and a vision for the future. For more information: www.converse.edu.
About the University Center in Greenville
Founded in 1987, the University Center of Greenville, Inc. is a higher education collaborative of seven leading, accredited and highly ranked South Carolina universities and colleges. The University Center’s mission is to advance access and attainment of higher education degrees for the benefit of the citizens and economic community of greater Greenville, S.C. and the region at large. For more information: www.greenville.org.
Converse College and University Center in Greenville leaders display a new Converse banner that will hang in the UCG facility in conjunction with the college’s new presence there. Holding the banner are Converse President, Krista L. Newkirk; University Center of Greenville CEO and President, David Taylor; Converse Dean of Graduate Studies and Distance Education, Lienne Medford; and Converse Provost, Jeffrey R. Barker.