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Heartland; Western sign five agreements

September 21, 2016

Dr. Joe Rives, Western's vice president for the Quad Cities and planning, and Rob Widmer, HCC president, signed the agreements on Tuesday, September 20, 2016.

Heartland Community College and Western Illinois University signed five agreements that will offer benefits to Heartland students who transfer to WIU. The agreements were formalized during a signing ceremony prior to the HCC Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, September 20.

"We are pleased to enter into these agreements with Heartland to provide expanded educational opportunities for their students," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "Western will provide premier and unique academic programs to further the success of Heartland students."

Linkages Program

As part of the agreements, Heartland will now be part of WIU’s Linkages program, which allows
students to take courses at both Western and Heartland during their first and second year of college to ensure a successful transfer. The agreement includes all of Western's degree programs. 

BGS Agreement

Heartland and Western also signed a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies (BGS) agreement. First signed in 2008, the agreement provided Heartland students with maximum course credit transferability into the BGS degree program. Under the current BGS agreement, Western grants full credit for all coursework completed in the associate degree, as well as a substantial number of other college credits a student may have earned.

A key benefit of the partnership is that BGS can be completed online. Place-bound Heartland students can earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from WIU without being required to relocate. Overall, the signing renews a longstanding agreement that demonstrates the institutions' commitment to work together to provide quality, affordable education for college students.

"The BGS is a fantastic opportunity, especially for graduates who have circumstances that make it difficult to pursue a bachelor's degree in the traditional way," said Heartland Vice President for Learning and Student Success Dr. Rick Pearce. "You never know what life may throw your way. Some students may not be able to move or stay in another town to complete their degree. This option provides great flexibility."

Honors Agreement

Under the honors agreement signed with WIU, Heartland Community College honors students can continue their honors-level curriculum at Western and graduate with University Honors. Specifically, the agreement allows Heartland honors students to transfer to Western's Centennial Honors College following their individual degree completion at Heartland. 

"This agreement will foster a smooth transition for Heartland honors students transferring to the Centennial Honors College," said WIU Centennial Honors College Director Richard Hardy. "The agreement will enable students to achieve the distinction of 'University Scholars,' something that would not be possible without this agreement."

Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Heartland, Dr. Sarah Diel-Hunt, adds, “Honors programs are typically unique to each institution. The fact that Western fully accepts HCC’s honors program credit towards its own allows our students to seamlessly transition with no trouble completing and graduating on time.”

All honors coursework at Heartland will transfer hour-for-hour toward the general honors requirements in WIU's honors college.

Financial Aid Consortium

In addition, the institutions also entered into a financial aid consortium agreement, which provides that an enrolled student can qualify for the WIU level of aid. The difference between HCC and WIU aid is banked for use once the student transfers.

Reverse Transfer Agreement

Finally, HCC and WIU officials signed a reverse transfer agreement. This agreement benefits students who elect to transfer from a community college to a baccalaureate degree-granting institution prior to completing their associate degree. Most likely, these students will complete the course work needed for their associate degree after transferring to the four-year institution. Reverse transfer agreements allow those students to receive the degree they earned.  

"We are excited to advance our partnerships and educational opportunities for students at Heartland. It is a win-win situation for students enrolled in Normal, Pontiac or Lincoln and who want to continue their academic excellence at Western Illinois University in Macomb, the Quad Cities or through distance (online) learning," said Joe Rives, vice president for the Quad Cities and planning. "We thank the administration of Heartland for giving the students this opportunity. We look forward to building more new and innovative partnerships in the future."

For more information on the WIU-Heartland partnership, contact the WIU Office of Admissions at (309) 298-3157 or email

Written by: Becky Gropp and Darcie Shinberger