Four northeastern South Carolina colleges and universities spanning 180 miles recently announced a “mutual assistance compact” designed to facilitate resource-sharing, WMBF News reports. The agreement—touted as the first of its kind in the state—provides Coastal Carolina University (CCU), Florence-Darlington Technical College, Francis Marion University (FMU), and Horry-Georgetown Technical College “the assurance of mutual aid in planning, facilities access and support, and staffing, should the need arise.”
The compact also will allow students enrolled at one of the participating institutions to access facilities on any of the four participating campuses. The arrangement recognizes that, during COVID-19, many college students are taking courses virtually from their homes, potentially far from essential campus supports. College leaders hope that increasing access to nearby libraries, parking, WiFi, and technology will reduce the need for long commutes and help students succeed during this critical time.
“The students and families in this area need access to every educational resource possible, and we ought to be working together continually to make sure that happens,” says FMU President Dr. Fred Carter. He adds that while the arrangement “came about because of a global crisis,” the hope is to create “a long-lasting compact between our four schools and provide a model for colleges and universities across the state and the country.”
The four institutions have a history of collaboration through bridge agreements to ensure academic continuity for transfer students, says CCU President Dr. David A. DeCenzo. Participating institutions also have aligned their schedules to ease planning for students, families, and staff. “As leaders of higher education institutions in our region, we share the responsibility of removing barriers to learning and ensuring access to facilities and technology for all of our students,” DeCenzo says.