The Edmond Sun

July 15, 2013

UCO degree completion program surpasses 1,000 graduates


Special to The Sun

EDMOND — The University of Central Oklahoma celebrated a milestone this month for its Operation Degree Completion program by assisting more than 1,000 students in completing their college degree goals.

Glenda Todd, an academic adviser at Central, started Operation Degree Completion in 2009 as a way to help former students who were very close to graduating but were unable to finish their degree.

“I started the program after going through some old files and noticing several Central students were really close to completing their degrees, but had fallen through the cracks and needed guidance,” Todd said.

“Operation Degree Completion encourages the students, shows them their options and then walks them through the process of being a student again.”

Last year the university received a grant of $251,596 from TG, a public, nonprofit corporation based in Round Rock, Texas, to advance the program. The grant helped the program reach more students by assisting in the completion of associate’s degrees through partnerships with Rose State College, Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

Of the 1,000 degrees awarded to Operation Degree Completion students, 80 percent were bachelor’s degrees and 20 percent were associate’s degrees.

Operation Degree Completion is part of a national strategy toward increasing the number of adults with post secondary education degrees. It is a key effort toward accomplishing goals set by the Complete College America program, which encourages states to create innovative opportunities for degree attainment.

Oklahoma began its Complete College America initiatives with Gov. Mary Fallin setting a goal to increase the number of degrees and certificates earned in the state by more than 50,000 by 2023, in part to meet the state’s anticipated workforce needs.

Fallin recently told the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce that the two-year CCA program had surpassed its goal of 1,700 more college graduates or certificate holders statewide per year above normal graduate levels by about 73 percent. In 2013, there were 2,900 more degrees or certificates awarded above normal graduation levels, she said.

“Having a college degree not only opens new career pathways but also helps build stronger future generations. Because of Operation Degree Completion, more than 1,000 families will have new opportunities now and in the future,” said Jay Corwin, associate vice president for Enrollment Management at Central and project manager for Operation Degree Completion.

Among those excited for the new opportunities a college degree brings is Virginia Hoskins, a student currently in the program. She was discouraged when she tried college the first time because she couldn’t find the right major. But thanks to the personal contact and guidance at Central, she completed her bachelor’s degree this summer.

“The Operation Degree Completion staff has gone above and beyond to help me organize my transcripts, credits and courses. I can’t say enough about the wonderful people who helped me and how completely thankful I am to have this opportunity,” Hoskins said.