Bert C. Bach, East Tennessee State University’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, said the two colleges are in the midst of finalizing plans for ETSU to have staff at both the new downtown building and Northeast State’s main campus in Blountville.
“The role is going to be a focus on having a one-stop shop for transitioning students, and we hope to have some academic programming coordinated with what Northeast State offers,” Bach said. “We’re hoping to place a heavy emphasis on the recruitment of first-time and transfer students and being very responsive to the challenges and opportunities that emerge from the Tennessee Promise.”
The Promise, an initiative announced last year by Gov. Bill Haslam, aims to provide two free years of community college for the state’s graduating high school students. The program is a key component to the governor’s Drive to 55, striving to have 55 percent of Tennessee’s residents earn a secondary degree by 2025.
Although ETSU and Northeast State have already combined forces at the satellite campus in downtown Kingsport, and formed plans for the collaboration in Johnson City before Haslam announced his program, Bach said the personnel at the new site will help take advantage of the expected influx of students over the course of the next few years.
“Assuming it’s successful, it will mean a larger number of students coming into the pipeline,” he said. “Two years out, it should provide opportunities for us, so the degree to which we can work closely with them will be to their benefit and ours, but most of all, to the students’ benefits.”
In the meantime, ETSU staff will offer limited courses downtown, possibly business classes, giving students the opportunity for dual enrollment at both colleges.
Bach said Richard Osborn, ETSU’s dean of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach, is working closely with Northeast State to finalize the downtown plans.
The model for the operations will be based on the implemented project in Kingsport, he said.
“Some of the features in a one-stop shop we already have there will be replicated here,” Bach said. “We’re really just trying to show students that they don’t have to go to multiple offices at our main campus. We want to give them as much access as possible through that one individual.”