For Immediate Release - Southwest Tennessee Community College

Date: April 29, 2014

WGU Tennessee Announces Partnership with Southwest Tennessee Community College

Agreement finalizes partnerships with all 13 community colleges in the state

State-endorsed WGU Tennessee ( today announced a new partnership with Southwest Tennessee Community College that allows Southwest graduates and staff to receive application fee waivers and discounted tuition to the accredited, online university.

"We are enthusiastic about working with Southwest Tennessee Community College in the ongoing effort to help more people advance their education and improve their lives," said Dr. Kimberly K. Estep, WGU Tennessee chancellor. "This agreement is special in part because it represents the attainment of a major goal for WGU Tennessee: partnership with all 13 community colleges in the state."

Dr. Nathan Essex, president of Southwest Tennessee Community College, said because WGU Tennessee is designed to target people who attended but didn't finish college, community colleges can help add students to the pipeline. "Given what we're faced with as a state and a city, there's so much that everyone can do together," Essex said.

WGU Tennessee began forming partnerships with Tennessee's community college system shortly after launching in 2013, setting a goal to sign agreements with all 13 institutions in less than a year. With over 65 campuses across the state, the 13 community colleges play a vital role in the state's higher education infrastructure. Total statewide community college enrollments during the fall of 2013 neared 90,000, many of whom were adult students returning to school.

"Southwest Tennessee Community College has long been known for providing adult learners with quality higher education," Dr. Estep said. "This partnership with WGU Tennessee will offer Southwest graduates and staff an even more affordable pathway toward achieving the dream of earning a bachelor's degree."

Launched last July by Gov. Bill Haslam as part of his "Drive to 55" initiative, WGU Tennessee is a state-endorsed, nonprofit, online university aimed at expanding Tennesseans' access to higher education. Established to meet the needs of working adults who wish to complete a bachelor's or master's degree and advance their careers, WGU Tennessee was created through a partnership between the state of Tennessee and nationally recognized Western Governors University. WGU Tennessee is ideal for busy adults with family and job responsibilities.

Dr. Joanne Bassett, provost and executive vice president of Southwest Tennessee Community College, is enthusiastic about the partnership with WGU Tennessee. "We are very excited about this new opportunity for our students to complete a four-year degree after graduation from Southwest. We think this will be particularly appealing to adult students who can demonstrate through both work experience and prior college coursework that they have the requisite skills to complete a four-year degree in an abbreviated period of time," said Bassett.

The university is a pioneer in competency-based education, which measures learning rather than time spent in class. Students advance in their degree programs when they demonstrate mastery of course materials, allowing them to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. For many students, this makes it possible to accelerate and complete their degrees faster. Combined with a self-paced, online learning format that offers one-on-one mentor support, competency-based learning at WGU Tennessee provides the kind of flexibility busy adults need in order to earn their degrees.

WGU Tennessee's 50-plus accredited degree programs are designed in collaboration with councils of experts from industry and academia, ensuring that students graduate knowing what they need to know to be successful.


Photo caption: President Nathan Essex and Chancellor Kimberly K. Estep sign partnership agreement.

About WGU Tennessee

WGU Tennessee is an online, nonprofit, competency-based university established to expand Tennesseans' access to higher education throughout the state. Formed through a partnership between the state of Tennessee and nationally recognized Western Governors University, WGU Tennessee is open to all qualified Tennessee residents. The university offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the high-demand career fields of business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing.

Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Teachers College programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).*

In addition to WGU Tennessee, there are four other WGU state-based, state-endorsed universities: WGU Indiana, established in June 2010; WGU Washington, established in April 2011; WGU Texas, established in August 2011; and WGU Missouri, established in February 2013.

For more information, visit the WGU Tennessee website,, or call 855-948-8495.

*Western Governors University offers nursing programs that are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 5380, Washington, DC 20036, 202-877-6791).

About Southwest Tennessee Community College

Southwest Tennessee Community College is the comprehensive, multicultural, public, open-access college whose mission is to anticipate and respond to the educational needs of students, employers, and communities in Shelby and Fayette counties and the surrounding Mid-South region. The college provides citizens with an effective teaching and learning environment designed to raise educational levels, enhance economic development, and enrich personal lives. With student success as our number one priority, Southwest, one of Tennessee's largest two-year colleges, welcomes a diverse student population with a wide variety of backgrounds, abilities, interests, levels of education and economic circumstances. Southwest offers more than 100 programs of study that lead to as many as 27 University Transfer and career associated degrees; and more than 20 technical certificates. Exciting continuing education opportunities are available including our cutting-edge Industrial Readiness Training program. Affordable tuition is offered in multiple locations conveniently located throughout the Memphis area at about half the cost of your average state university. We offer a weekend degree program for busy adults and 97 percent of 2012-2013 Southwest graduates are working. Southwest Tennessee Community College is a Tennessee Board of Regents institution.

For more information, visit our website at: or call 901-333-5000.

For more information contact: Brenda J. Rayner, 901-333-4247,, Farris Bldg., Room 1002, 5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134