There was a meeting of the minds Tuesday to discuss how the goals of increased enrollment at Mississippi Valley State University, a strong work force in Washington County and greater access to educational opportunities could be achieved with the Greenville Higher Education Center (GHEC) serving as the catalyst for reaching those goals.
Among those minds were Dr. Arthur Cartilage, Site Coordinator for Mississippi Valley State University’s GHEC campus; Will Coppage, Executive Director of Washington County Economic Alliance; Angelica Richards, Workforce and Special Programs Coordinator for Washington County Economic Alliance; City of Greenville Mayor, Errick Simmons; and Willie Sullivan, president of the Washington County Alumni Association for Mississippi Valley State University.
Washington County Board of Supervisors President Carl McGee had planned to be in attendance but was not feeling well.
The Greenville Higher Education Center was designed to be an offsite campus for Mississippi Delta Community College, Delta State University and Mississippi Valley State University.
“Even though DSU is no longer a part of this, this still remains the greatest asset to our community,” Cartilage asserted.
Cartilage stressed the importance of the GHEC to the community of Greenville and how the structure of the organization has somewhat changed since assuming his role in March.
“Over the years, MVSU’s enrollment has virtually dropped and that is our purpose of being here,” Cartilage said.
Cartilage, as well as Sullivan, who has presided over the Washington County Alumni Association for MVSU for 20 years, said they are determined to reach the common goal of providing educational opportunities for local students who are interested in receiving a four year degree or career enhancement and career training for their particular career choice.
In an effort to reestablish its presence at the GHEC, MVSU offers a full range of upper level under graduate courses and graduate courses, all taught by university faculty and adjunct professors.
In addition to MVSU’s regular courses, it has certification programs offered, workshops, seminars and none-credit courses as well, according to Cartilage.
However, many of the citizens are not taking advantage of those offerings possibly because of lack of awareness.
Fourteen courses are offered at the GHEC for the fall semester and 12 for the spring.
Cartilage pointed out many students are highly interested in the field of early childhood education and the measures being taken to accommodate those interests.
“One of the things that we’ve decided to do for the spring semester is offer five early childhood education courses and that will give a student 15 hours,” he said, noting it will give students an opportunity to be full time without having to travel too great of a distance.
Collaborative efforts and commitment, according to Cartilage, is needed to achieve such a goal on the parts of the university, the City of Greenville and Washington County.
Mayor Errick Simmons committed on behalf of the city and himself to spread awareness to residents about the educational opportunities GHEC is providing.
“The centerpiece of sustainability is higher education and we can’t move towards work force development or economic development without an educational partner and Valley has been that partner,” he said.
Will Coppage input the significance of creating careers and financial literacy to economic development.
“Valley saw a need and looked at the community and your school and what you offered and that is exactly what we need to do more of,” he said, “see what the community wants, see what you can offer, see how you can feel in the gap, and that’s exactly what you do.”
Both Simmons and Coppage acknowledge how beneficial it is to not have the issue of transportation preventing the access to educational opportunities because the courses are offered right here in Greenville.
Cartilage also highlighted a recent agreement with Western Line School District to offer dual enrollment and hopes to begin similar endeavors with other local school districts such as Leland and Hollandale.
Sullivan discussed how pleased he was to be able to talk with Cartilage and others about the need he saw for MVSU and the GHEC.
“Communication, that’s whats missing,” he said. “If the word can get out about what’s here and being offered, then the students and those who need to continue their education can come here.”
Increasing spring enrollment and making it easier for students to come from Moorhead and continue their remaining two years at the GHEC is a goal that Sullivan is very adamant about.
Sullivan also added that for him personally, it’s not a “Valley event” but it’s about Washington County and how he and others can help improve the community so that when jobs come, the people can be ready.