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Jeff State, UM offer business degree

By Ben Flanagan

Jefferson State Community College and the University of Montevallo are working together to offer students business courses leading to a management degree.
The two-plus-two program gives students an opportunity to obtain degrees from each school, an associate degree from Jeff State and a bachelor’s degree in business administration in management from Montevallo.
Dean of Montevallo’s Michael E. Stephens College of Business William Rupp said the classes will be available this fall, and the schools are now actively seeking students to register.
Students can take the evening classes on whichever campus they prefer, he said. Instructors will use cameras and monitors to teach both campuses simultaneously.
Rupp said this program is meant for Jeff State students who want to pursue academic opportunities beyond the community college system.
Students will complete 66 hours of courses, meaning 33 courses, over two years.
Rupp said the courses will be rotational so students can plan their schedules carefully.
What the program offers is a rare flexibility students might not find at other schools.
“Flexibility is the number one thing, and number two is travel,” Rupp said. “They can take the class right there at Jeff State-Clanton. It’s four nights a week, so that creates some issues. But this is not some watered-down course.”
He said if students decide they don’t want to take the class in Clanton, they have the option of commuting to Montevallo where they can also take it. All students will be registered for the same class.
Rupp explained the classes will be delivered via telepresence, which is teleconferencing on a larger scale.
In the classroom there will be two cameras and three monitors. One camera follows the students and one the instructor, who is looking at both classes at the same time.
The presentation is similar to television quality, presented in 480p. Rupp said they would move to high definition when they could afford to acquire the bandwidth.
He said the schools have already done some equipment testing and are still training staff members.
“You get the full experience,” Rupp said. “You can debate with students that are 35 miles away, and you can see them and the instructors on screen.”
Rupp said the course aligns itself with the mission of Montevello, which is to be a liberal arts college.
He said the relationship between Jeff State and Montevallo is strong and looking to grow.
“Jeff State has been very welcoming to us,” he said. They want us there. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Both parties will benefit.
“The goal is that we’d be able to serve the students, employees and citizens of Chilton County. Part of our mission is to make sure we take care of students across the state of Alabama.”
Rupp said no students have enrolled in the new program as of Friday.