Article By Hannah Keller Flanery
UACCB communications and marketing coordinator
In 2016, Beverly Meinzer (pictured), a chemistry and physical science instructor at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB), attended a meeting in Boulder, Colo. to learn about a new transfer initiative called Interstate Passport.
The initiative is designed to help students transfer seamlessly between institutions. Recently, Meinzer was selected to be the Arkansas state facilitator for Interstate Passport.
“I will be responsible for helping grow the Interstate Passport network in the state and surrounding states by helping colleges implement Interstate Passport at their campuses and pointing them to resources available through the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE),” Meinzer said. “Interstate Passport is a great program. It helps students transfer, typically from a two-year to a four-year university, without losing credits and without having to retake classes they’ve already taken, which saves them time and money. Students are able to complete their degree faster or get into the workforce faster, whatever their path may be.”
Meinzer gave a presentation on Interstate Passport in October at the Arkansas Community College annual conference along with Dr. Ann Clemmer, senior associate director for government relations/special projects with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
“It was a very good experience. We were able to share information and get the word out about Interstate Passport,” she said.
UACCB is currently the only school in Arkansas that is an Interstate Passport institution. The college has awarded passports to 62 students so far. According to the Interstate Passport website, “Interstate Passport addresses the frustrations many students experience when transferring between institutions by articulating to an agreed-upon set of general education learning outcomes that students must achieve. Member institutions map these outcomes to their lower-division courses and learning experiences.”
Meinzer said that preliminary data shows that students with passports graduate quicker and have a higher GPA than those without. “Of the 472 students awarded passports in 2018-19, the average GPA was 3.48 compared to an average GPA of 2.93 for students who transfer without a passport.” She said students with a passport also typically have more credits than those who transfer without a passport.
In the spring semester, Meinzer will make contact with colleges and universities in the state, as well as in a neighboring state to help guide them through the process of implementing Interstate Passport at their institutions. “It will be fairly simple for other institutions to build their Interstate Passport block of courses because they can use UACCB’s block as a model and then find those courses at their institution in the Arkansas Course Transfer System. The staff at WICHE has also been very helpful and there are lots of useful resources available to institutions that want to implement Interstate Passport. It’s good for students which means it’s good for colleges,” she said.