SMU, Dallas Community Colleges Expand Transfer Agreement

August 21, 2010  

SMU seniors Dylan Lewis and Daniela Balderas pose with SMU President Turner and DCCCD Chancellor Wright Lassiter as they sign a new articulation agreement. (COURTESY PHOTO / CLAYTON T. SMITH)

By Aida Ahmed

Transfers make up a good portion of the undergraduate student population at Southern Methodist University. About 400 students transfer to SMU every year and 60 percent of these students come from two-year institutions. Part of the reason why some of these students find it easy to transfer is because of SMU’s partnership with the Dallas County Community College District to provide scholarships and class-credit transfers.

On Aug. 16, SMU President R. Gerald Turner and DCCCD Chancellor Wright Lassiter signed a new set of agreements that will continue to make it easier for students in the district system to make the transition to a four-year university.

The DCCCD is SMU’s biggest source of incoming transfers. At the signing ceremony, Provost Paul Ludden said that in the past five years, 604 students have transferred to SMU from the district. About 75 percent of transfers in the past ten years went on to graduate.

SMU seniors Daniela Balderas and Dylan Lewis are two first-generation college students who made their way to SMU through the DCCCD transfer process.

Balderas, a marketing and Spanish double major, transferred to SMU in 2009 from Eastfield Community College. Upon graduating from high school she did not receive enough financial aid to attend SMU, but still continued on to obtain an associate’s degree from Eastfield. With the help of the transfer scholarship, she came to SMU and is now a student ambassador.

Dylan Lewis shares a similar story. He is a non-traditional college student who never thought he would attend college, yet came back to school at the age of 23.

“The more classes I took at DCCC, the more I wanted to go further,” Lewis said. “I said I would do everything in my power to succeed.”

He, too, transferred from Eastfield and was the first recipient of the Erin Tierney Kramp Transfer Scholarship, which covers full tuition for up to five semesters at SMU.

President Turner expressed his commitment to SMU’s transfer partnership and said he was delighted that the program has had a positive impact on the school and on students. Turner said SMU has room to accommodate new students at the junior level and wants to continue working with the DCCCD so that students who have graduated with an associate’s degree can come to SMU to get a bachelor’s degree.

As Lassiter pointed out, the program also aids in closing the diversity gap at SMU. Although most students who transfer are older than traditional students, on average, about 28 percent of transfer students from DCCCD are minorities.

SMU offers ten full scholarships every fall to Dallas area community college transfers who transfer with 50 credit hours and a 3.7 GPA. The school also offers half-tuition scholarships for honors transfers in addition to several other transfer scholarships.

A new articulation agreement between Turner and Lassiter spells out guidelines for transferring community college toward a four-year SMU degree. A reverse-transfer agreement permits students to transfer SMU credits back to their community college as well.

Once a transfer student himself, President Turner believes that some students have to take a different path to finish college.

“There’s more than one way to end up getting a degree,” Turner said.

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