Volume 1 | December 2017
Introducing the MiTransfer Newsletter
Welcome to the first edition of the new MiTRANSFER newsletter! It comes to you courtesy of the Michigan Community College Association ( MCCA ) and the Michigan Association of State Universities ( MASU ). With a goal of providing educational stakeholders with information on statewide student transfer activities in Michigan, MiTRANSFER will be published on a regular basis. It will contain the latest news on statewide, multi-institutional and cross-sector initiatives that impact the student transfer experience in Michigan. Individuals who wish to manage their subscription to this newsletter can do so by clicking the link at the bottom of the page. A website is also under development, which will serve as an additional, complementary source for information and updates involving the advancement of student transfer in Michigan.
Why Student Transfer Matters
In July 2017, Governor Rick Snyder signed the FY 2018 state budget which included a one-time appropriation to support a statewide initiative to replace the Michigan Transfer Network (MTN) and build multi-institutional associate to bachelor’s degree transfer pathways. The Michigan Community College Association and its 28 member colleges and the Michigan Association of State Universities and its 15 member universities have been working collaboratively to increase associate and bachelor’s degree completion among transfer students from all backgrounds through collaboration among Michigan colleges and universities and engagement with faculty and higher education administrators.

This has become increasingly important as Michigan lags behind peer states in the percentage of students who transfer with an associate degree (National: 34%, Michigan: 24%) and community college transfer students who earn a bachelor’s degree (National: 42%, Michigan 37%). Additional details about transfer outcomes are available in the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Signature Report 13 . Michigan needs a better strategy so that more students earn both an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree.

Selected Transfer Rates After 6 Years for Fall 2010 Entering Students, MI vs. US
MCCA and MASU have been working together for more than five years to improve transfer student outcomes. In fall 2014, Michigan community colleges and universities adopted the Michigan Transfer Agreement (MTA) which allows students to transfer 30 credit hours of general education coursework from college to the university. This was a big step toward increasing the percentage of students who transfer, but still more can be done to ensure that more students transfer with an associate degree and earn a bachelor’s degree. To achieve this goal, in fall 2016, Michigan community colleges and universities established a statewide Transfer Steering Committee , with representatives from more than 30 colleges and universities to guide this work. The Transfer Steering Committee’s mission is to increase associate and bachelor’s degree completion among transfer students from all backgrounds. The objective is to make the overall transfer experience more efficient, easy to understand, and simple to navigate while optimizing credit transfer.

The Transfer Steering Committee, with the support of MCCA and MASU, are using several strategies to achieve this objective, including:

  • Replacing the Michigan Transfer Network
  • Developing multi-institutional associate to bachelor’s degree transfer pathways
  • Aligning mathematics requirements within programs of study
  • Increasing awards of academic credit for military experience
  • Spotlighting best practices to improve transfer student success
  • Producing and utilizing data on transfer student outcomes

Additional details about these strategies are included in this newsletter. Please be sure to subscribe to this newsletter (via link at the bottom) to ensure you receive updates on Michigan transfer initiatives.
New Michigan Transfer Network Website Under Development
The current Michigan Transfer ( MTN ) website was originally created by the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (MACRAO) in 2007-2008. This award-winning site has served the growing number of transfer students in Michigan for a decade, but the site needs to be replaced with more modern technology and more detailed information about transfer. The current site provides course-to-course equivalency between public and independent colleges and universities in Michigan. The new MTN website is under development that will provide expanded information about course-to-course equivalency, how to complete Michigan’s general education transfer package, known as the Michigan Transfer Agreement ( MTA ), and comprehensive details about associate to bachelor’s degree transfer pathways in selected disciplines. Examples of good sites include Massachusetts and South Carolina .
Earlier this Fall, MTN focus groups were conducted at the annual ACPA-Michigan and MACRAO conferences. These focus groups produced rich and diverse suggestions for improving the MTN such as the inclusion of greater course details and more advanced search options. Recently an MTN replacement team was developed which includes IT specialists, members of MACARO, and liaisons from MCCA, MASU, and the Transfer Steering Committee. Input from students will be solicited as the project moves forward. With large numbers of students transferring throughout the state these efforts are meant to ensure the MTN upgrade is actuated in a manner that is efficient, intuitive, and beneficial for all students.
The new transfer site is scheduled to go live in May of 2019.
Associate to Bachelor's Degree Transfer Pathways
There are currently about 1,900 bi-lateral articulation agreements between Michigan community colleges and public and independent universities. These agreements, between one college and one university, work well for students in some cases, but there are too many students who are transferring and subsequently leaving college without an associate or bachelor’s degree. For this reason, we are implementing an approach used in Connecticut , Colorado, and Minnesota by convening faculty to build multi-institutional associate to bachelor’s degree transfer pathways in the most popular disciplines. On Friday, May 18, 2018, we are convening faculty from four programs including:

  • Biological Sciences/Biology
  • Business Administration/Management
  • Criminal Justice
  • Psychology

Why these four programs? They are among the most popular bachelor’s degrees in Michigan and represent 15% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2014-15 at Michigan’s public and independent universities. We anticipate that we will work with faculty to build at least 12 pathways over the next three years. 

What are multi-institutional associate to bachelor’s degree pathways? In a multi-institutional pathways model, students can begin at a community college and transfer to any participating university by taking the same set of courses in the first 60 credit hours at the community college. In addition, students are encouraged to complete the associate degree before transferring to the university to complete the bachelor’s degree. As the data suggests, Michigan is below other states in the percentage of students who earn an Associate’s degree before transferring. The national average is 33.6 percent and the Michigan average is 24.3 percent. Once the multi-institutional agreements are finalized, students will be able to begin at any participating community college, complete an associate degree and transfer to any participating bachelor’s degree granting institution ready to complete junior-level or upper division coursework. Community college students will not need to take one set of courses to transfer to Institution A and another set of courses to transfer to Institution B. Counselors and advisors will continue to help students select a career and program of study, prepare for transfer, identify co-curricular activities that prepare students for upper division courses, and apply for admission to selective or competitive programs. 

How will we build these pathways? Fortunately, colleges and universities have been using articulation agreements and transfer guides to ease the transfer process for several years. But there has not been an opportunity to convene faculty from multiple institutions in this process. With funds from the state of Michigan, we will convene one faculty member for each discipline from all community colleges and universities that would like to participate. The process will take some time and will require engagement from faculty, counselors and advisors, registrars, and transfer specialists. Additional information about the process will be shared in upcoming newsletters.

How can I participate? Information about how to participate will be distributed by the MASU, MCCA, and the Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities (MICU) to institutional leadership. We anticipate that the faculty will meet in-person twice—in spring and fall—to discuss the appropriate pathways for transfer students so that they can complete an associate degree at a participating community college and transfer to the bachelor’s degree granting institution ready to enroll in upper-division coursework. Participating faculty will be eligible for a travel stipend for their participation. Additional information will be available in winter 2018. Be sure to read the MiTRANSFER newsletter, and if you are not subscribed to it, you can do so via the link at the bottom of this newsletter.

Right Math @ the Right Time
In early 2016, the Michigan Community College Association and the Michigan Association of State Universities, in partnership with the Charles A. Dana Center’s Math Pathways to Completion project, established The Right Math at the Right Time (RM@RT) Task Force to strengthen the implementation of math pathways across Michigan’s two- and four-year postsecondary institutions.
The RM@RT Task Force began meeting in February 2016 and completed its initial work later that year with the strategy recommendations in this report .
The RM@RT Standing Committee is continuing this work under the umbrella of the Michigan Transfer Steering Committee, which oversees state-level transfer initiatives. The RM@RT Standing Committee is broadly charged with strengthening the implementation of math pathways across Michigan and has organized its work into three strands.
The first strand is to align the learning outcomes for the gateway courses in the three MTA pathways to ensure transferability. The RM@RT Standing Committee charged three working groups made up of college and university math faculty to recommend learning outcomes for the first college level courses in Quantitative Reasoning, Statistics and Preparation for Calculus. These groups have completed their work and the RM@RT Standing Committee will release their recommendations later this month.
The second strand is the work that needs to be done for students requiring developmental education including 1) co-requisite or other acceleration strategies and 2) improved placement practices for each of the three pathways. The RM@RT Standing Committee will recruit a cadre of colleges and universities to pilot, then scale up these strategies over the next two years. 
The third strand is the work that will happen in recommending math courses for the program pathways created through the work of the larger Transfer Steering Committee. For more information about how to get involved with any RM@RT activities, please contact Jenny Schanker , Ed.D, Director of Research and Institutional Practice at the Michigan Community College Association .
Awarding Academic Credit for Military Experience
The Consortium of Michigan Veterans Educators (CMVE) was formed in 2010 with a mission to serve all Michigan public community colleges and universities in their efforts to support military-connected students. In the fall of 2015, CMVE initiated an academic credit knowledge community that has met virtually, via teleconference, and in-person over the past two years to learn and share about challenges and opportunities for awarding academic credit for military experience.
With extensive input from educators involved with this knowledge community, CMVE kicked off its MI-litary Equivalency Project (MEP) in October 2016. This work is being carried out courtesy of a generous Kresge Foundation award in support of CMVE as well as a sub-grant from Lumina’s investment in the Midwestern Higher Education Compact’s (MHEC) Multi-State Collaborative on Military Credit ( MCMC ).
The goals of the MEP are to support colleges and universities seeking to:
  • Develop direct transfer equivalencies where appropriate;
  • Articulate military experience to general education requirements;
  • Build equivalencies for particular Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs) as aligned to appropriate academic programs, and;
  • Showcase developed equivalencies in transfer equivalency databases.
All project activities to-date are archived on the MEP website , including a digital resource repository with tools for institutions to use in their continued work toward articulating academic credit for military experience as appropriate on their respective campuses. These tools include detailed guides from the American Council on Education, examples of completed military credit maps from other institutions and state systems, and selected comprehensive military POIs (programs of instruction).
CMVE’s Academic Credit Knowledge Community will convene again via teleconference early in 2018 to discuss lingering issues and plan for future programming efforts. In addition to anticipated webinar events available to CMVE members, campus-level support and technical assistance is available through June 2018. To get involved in this work, please contact Katie Giardello , Director of Veteran and Transfer Initiatives at the Michigan Community College Association.

Join Us in Advancing the Michigan Transfer Agenda
A multitude of stakeholders at Michigan’s colleges and universities are enthusiastically engaging in the work of advancing the statewide student transfer agenda. Staff and MCCA and MASU are eager to harness this energy and to produce tangible results that will improve transparency and efficiency in the transfer process, while maintaining high-quality instructional delivery and student outcomes.

If you have questions or comments you wish to share as it involves advancing the student transfer and student success in Michigan, you are encouraged to contact a member of the Transfer Steering Committee . You are also encouraged to contact Erica Orians at the MCCA or Will Emerson at MASU; they are serving as the primary project coordinators and staff liaisons for the MTN replacement and degree pathways initiatives.          
Erica Lee Orians, Ph.D.                               
Executive Director, Center for Student Success          
Michigan Community College Association                                
517-372-4350 /  eorians@mcca.org          
Will Emerson, Ph.D.
Director of Student Success Initiatives
Michigan Association of State Universities               
517-482-1563 /  wemerson@masu.org