For a fifth straight year, the University of Mississippi has been recognized by Phi Theta Kappa honor society for creating ways to support community college transfer students.
UM is among 122 colleges and universities nationally on PTK’s annual Excellence in Community College Transfer Honor Roll and the only Mississippi university to be recognized all five years.
“This (recognition) shows the University of Mississippi’s commitment to transfer students,” said Amie Bernstein, UM admissions counselor. “Their success is our success, and we greatly value those who come to us as transfers, especially (from) community colleges.
“Phi Theta Kappa members are the top transfers in the world, and the more we can provide to them for accessibility to education and resources, the greater our community. And the fields that each student eventually enters in the workforce will be stronger because of it.”
Applications were based on engagement, collaboration, impact and achievements related to the transfer of community college students, as well as partnerships, support, admissions outreach, scholarships/financial aid, student engagement opportunities and institutional priorities.
Bernstein noted that several milestones, events and activities led to this year’s honor.
“Ole Miss offers some of the best PTK transfer scholarships in the nation,” she said. “Our PTK transfers who complete at least 48 transferable credits with a 3.50 GPA or higher receive nearly a full instate tuition scholarship automatically, with an additional $7,000 for out-of-state students as well. And that is just scratching the surface for our transfer scholarships.”
The number of dedicated staff serving transfer students, transfer living options and completion rates are all factors in the selection process.
The university’s chapter also hosted and sponsored the yearly awards convention for the Mississippi-Louisiana region of PTK in March. During the event, the Ole Miss alumni chapter, made up of UM students who transferred from community colleges and were involved in PTK, held a food drive for the Ole Miss Food Bank and collected more than 2,500 items.
Attendees who donated food items to the drive were able to attend the convention for free, Bernstein said.
“We provided all the meals and opportunity for fellowship and recognition of these states’ best transfer students,” she said. “This event broke records for the number of students who attended, as well as how many different community college campus chapters of PTK attended.”
PTK alumni members are always engaged in many organizations on campus, from serving as student ambassadors and orientation leaders to the Associated Student Body and Columns Society, said Anna Lauren Innman, also a UM admissions counselor.
“One thing that never changes from year to year is their passion for supporting our transfer community at Ole Miss,” Innman said. “They consistently advocate for new opportunities for transfer students and do their best to foster the most welcoming atmosphere for our new transfer students.”
The Honor Roll institutions will be featured in the 2020 Phi Theta Kappa “Partners in Excellence” publication, which goes to higher education leaders nationally. They also will be recognized on the organization’s website.
“Just as higher ed must adapt to global and societal trends, we, as the flagship university in Mississippi, must continue to enhance our transfer program,” Bernstein said. “By keeping our standards high and recognizing the obstacles many transfer students face, we will continue to be known as transfer champions.”
The recognition program reflects the growing importance of transfers in helping the U.S. achieve its college completion goals and promotes further study and sharing of best practices, said Lynn Tincher-Ladner, CEO and president of the honor society.
“The Transfer Honor Roll reflects the growing importance of recognizing and responding to the needs of transfer students,” Ladner said. “This award is given to four-year colleges and universities with proven outcomes for transfer success.
“They are the best at providing a supportive and smooth transition from community college equating to increased rates of bachelor’s degree attainment for transfer students.”
Phi Theta Kappa is the oldest and largest honor society recognizing students pursuing two-year degrees. It has more than 3 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in nine nations.
By Edwin B. Smith, Ole Miss Communications