COA still awaiting OK for ag program


Robert Wynegar


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, January 8, 2018

College of The Albemarle is waiting on approval of a few key details from N.C. State University as it races to have a new agriculture curriculum in place this fall.

This week's bout of winter weather appears to have slowed final approval of COA's agriculture curriculum by N.C. State officials.

COA President Robert Wynegar said Friday he had hoped to hear from NCSU by the end of this week on the two-year program’s final details. He now expects to hear something from NCSU within the next couple of weeks, he said.

If Wynegar doesn't get curriculum details from NCSU within that timeframe it probably won't be possible to launch the agriculture program this fall, he said.

COA needs to hire a faculty member to teach courses and oversee the agriculture program by mid-February in order to get the curriculum accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Wynegar explained.

John Dole, assistant dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, said in August that COA was on track to develop an agriculture curriculum that could help students either transfer to NCSU to complete a four-year degree or go directly into the workforce.

NCSU and COA officials alike have indicated a hope to launch the agriculture program this fall. The program would be based on COA’s main campus in Elizabeth City.

In addition to basic agriculture courses taught during the first two years at N.C. State, the two-year program at COA would also feature standard courses in English, history and math taught by current faculty. Students in the planned associate degree program would earn up to 64 credit hours, all of which are transferrable to N.C. State.

COA also plans to offer a one-year program in agriculture that would offer a diploma or certificate to students not interested in transferring to N.C. State to earn a four-year degree.

Wynegar said depending on when he hears back from NCSU officials, COA might have to wait a year to begin that program.

"We absolutely intend to do it," Wynegar said of the certificate program, adding he expects it will attract more students than the two-year transfer program.

Although no decision has been made about where the one-year program will be based, Wynegar believes COA’s Edenton-Chowan Campus to be the mostly likely site.

NCSU’s Dole has acknowledged that not all COA students who study agriculture will want or need to complete a four-year degree.

"We recognize that for a lot of students the two-year degree that they get at a community college is what they want and what they need for the kind of work they want to do," he said.

Dole said he understands that it's a high priority for students who want to stay in the Elizabeth City area after they graduate. He said that is consistent with the mission of community colleges, which are intended to support their local community.