Greenville Tech highlights 2021 achievements in diversity, workforce development, housing initiatives | #education | #technology | #training

Scholarships were a big part of 2021, according to Greenville Technical College leaders who presented the school’s list of accomplishments over the past year at the school’s new Dreisbach/Anderson Student Success Center on Dec. 15.

Diversity matters

Matteel Knowles, vice president for student services, discussed the African American Male Scholarship Initiative, a program designed to bridge the gap between Black males, the demographic with the lowest achievement. She said the program was showing great results, with a 60% retention rate. So far, 24 students have graduated from the program, with 23 on the dean’s list (at least a 3.0 GPA) and one on the president’s list (4.0 GPA).

She said the program also introduced students to opportunities with the Greenville Police Dept., showing them the training facility and helping to break down barriers between Black men and police while allowing students to experience the challenges of police work.

Knowles said the Center for Collegiate Recovery, a program for students in recovery for drug and alcohol addiction, has been fully funded through July 2024. She said the 19 students in the program were pulling an average 3.23 GPA.

Industry bouncing back

Larry Miller, vice president of Learning & Workforce Development, said the school is partnering to meet employer needs and provide relevant skills. Greenville Tech partnered with Greenville County Schools to set up the T-Mobile apprenticeship program for high school students. He said those who complete the program will get a chance to interview for a $54,000-per-year job with the company.

Miller said GTC is helping industry rebound, with graduates headed for some of the hardest-hit segments of the economy, like the medical and culinary industries. He said the culinary program had an 83% job placement, and the program was competing favorably with programs costing tens of thousands of dollars.

A Greenville Technical College student uses robotics in the Mechatronics program. Photo provided by Greenville Technical College. 

Scholarships making a difference

Greenville Tech’s endowment doubled from $10 million to $20 million over the past year, and 420 students received scholarships totaling $421,335. The award rate was 44% of eligible students receiving scholarships, said Ann Wright, vice president for advancement.

“Break the cycle of financial instability — that is exactly what we’re doing,” she said.

She said the school provided $75,000 to 165 students for emergency assistance for car repairs, rent, medical bills or other financial emergencies that afflicted some students.

“It could stop our students from attending and completing their education,” Wright said.

The school sold Campus Pointe student housing in August, citing a 70% occupancy rate (a 90% occupancy rate is needed for it to be financially sustainable) and that most students living there don’t live in Greenville County. College officials didn’t believe it was in their best interests to keep it. Instead, the building was sold to Grace Church, which is planning to convert it to affordable housing. She said the sale would still benefit the school because it will remain available to students in need of housing or for residents who might be interested in the school. Wright said the deal won’t affect students living there until their leases expire in May.

She also announced a $13 million capital campaign, with $6 million for a new arts & health sciences building and $7 million for student success and access, which would improve technology at the college.

Photo by Phil Hyman

Free for all

Keith Miller, GTC president, said the school would extend Gov. Henry McMaster’s initiative to make technical colleges free for students in certain programs to all students. McMaster’s plan excluded students who are transferring to four-year schools.

He said the governor’s original plan would only cover free tuition for in-demand programs like health care, transportation/logistics, manufacturing, computer science/IT and construction. With the expansion, the free tuition would be available to all, regardless of their field of study.

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