Newman University and Garden City Community College: An unprecedented partnership set to change the game for students

Jul 26, 2023
GCCC President Ryan Ruda, Newman VP Alden Stout talk with Newman Dean of School of Education and Social Work Jessica Bird

Newman University and Garden City Community College (GCCC) are pioneering a groundbreaking partnership that aims to transform the higher education landscape of Finney County and southwest Kansas. The strategic collaboration aims to fill an existing gap in a region.

GCCC President Ryan Ruda recently outlined the challenge to city leaders during a chamber breakfast meeting. 

GCCC President
Ryan Ruda

“Our location really places us in a distinct disadvantage for being able to have four-year degree completion opportunities available. Garden City is classified as being a ‘higher education desert’ …  it means that we are over 125 miles away from a four-year campus,” Ruda said.

The collaboration between Newman and GCCC is a response to the needs of Garden City residents and businesses.

“What we’re hearing is needed is face-to-face instruction here. We need to be able to offer classes that keep individuals and keep our talent pool here in Garden City and allow our businesses to capitalize on that talent once they complete their degrees,” Ruda said.

Newman President Kathleen S. Jagger

Newman President Kathleen S. Jagger believes the partnership will have an impact for the region.

“We are thrilled to share the news of our extraordinary partnership with Garden City Community College that reflects the extent to which our respective missions align. We firmly believe that education is a catalyst for growth and community vibrancy and that our graduates will be positive change agents. Our expanded range of programs in southwest Kansas aims to bridge a significant gap in higher education options, enabling students to earn bachelor’s degrees in business, education and soon in nursing … while remaining in their hometowns,” Jagger said.

How the Newman University and GCCC partnership changes the game for students

The partnership’s primary goal is to address the urgent need for more four-year and master’s degree opportunities within Finney County. Instead of students having to travel extensive distances to further their education, this initiative brings higher education to them.

A graphic reads: "Southwest Kansas is a higher education desert! There are 1,115 distance-impacted graduating seniors in the Greater Garden City Area. These students are not pursuing four-year degree options due to distance from a four-year. Finney County Investment: The county alone invests $51,789,888 per year in students who leave Garden City to pursue higher education."

Ruda believes providing local access to bachelor’s and master’s degree completion is a game-changer.

“Over a thousand underserved individuals (annually) don’t have access to higher education so they have remained in Garden City and are not pursuing degree competition after their associate’s degree level. This begins to tell why we are looking at this particular opportunity. 

“This partnership is vital for retaining talent in southwest Kansas and the region. Through a review of data and conversations with our students, it became imperative that we find solutions to bring four-year degree completion opportunities in a face-to-face format. This collaboration with Newman University brings strong programs that enhance access and affordability while retaining talent in our local communities,” Ruda added.

Financial aid for students

Newman Vice President for Academic Affairs Alden Stout attended the chamber breakfast and later a Lunch and Learn on the GCCC campus to help explain the partnership. 

Alden Stout, Newman VP for Academic Affairs

“This joint effort allows students to remain at home, maintain connections within their communities and gain the necessary knowledge and experience to succeed in their chosen fields. Through our partnership, students who complete their associate degree and enroll with Newman will receive a $20,000 scholarship and are eligible for further need-based aid. We believe this collaboration represents the fulfillment of our shared vision of a region that thrives through accessible and comprehensive education, thereby transforming lives and nurturing future leaders.” 

In addition to a $20,000 annual scholarship, GCCC graduates who receive federal Pell or state grants are eligible for the Newman Match Grant, which provides additional aid to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for students up.

A graphic reads: "2+2 Scholarship: Every GCCC graduate will receive a $20,000 annual scholarship. Grant Match Program: Newman will match dollar for dollar any federal Pell or state grants up to $7,500. Greater the need, greater the financial support! Depending on a student's need, tuition would be at the MOST $15,000 per year to as little as $750 per year."

Newman already impacts the region and ‘what’s next’ in the pipeline?

Stout added that Newman already plays a key role in the region through its Pathway to Teaching program.

“We’ve been training teachers in the area since the mid-’90s. It’s a very successful program and as we met with President Ruda and the (Finney County) Economic Development Corp. they said ‘Yes, but we need more,’” Stout said.

As part of this partnership, Newman University and GCCC will kickstart bachelor’s degree programs in business and agribusiness starting this fall. This move not only reflects the prevalent agricultural economy in the area but also resonates with Newman University’s mission of meeting community and regional needs. Nursing and allied health programs are being planned to launch in January 2024.

Ruda discusses the Newman and GCCC partnership.
Ruda discusses the Newman and GCCC partnership.

The model ensures flexibility, affordability and a personalized approach to education. Newman’s financial aid options, unmatched by any existing partnership program, will make this transition even smoother.

To infinity and beyond

This partnership sets a new precedent for higher education in southwest Kansas. With a vision of making education more accessible, affordable and relevant, this collaboration between Newman University and GCCC is a great leap forward for higher education.

By addressing local educational needs and enhancing the regional talent pool, the partnership is on course to turn a higher education desert into an oasis of knowledge and opportunity. And it all begins with a single step this fall.

Garden City Community College campus
Garden City Community College campus

We believe this collaboration represents the fulfillment of our shared vision of a region that thrives through accessible and comprehensive education, thereby transforming lives and nurturing future leaders.

Alden Stout, vice president of academic affairs


1. What degrees will be offered through this partnership?

Bachelor’s degrees in business and agribusiness will be offered initially, with potential for more programs to be introduced in the future based on regional needs. Nursing and allied health program degrees are planned to be added as early as the spring 2024 term.

2. When do the first classes for the partnership start, and how does the enrollment cycle work?

The first classes for the partnership begin in August, and enrollment occurs every eight weeks. The partnership follows a continuous enrollment cycle, offering flexibility for students to start their classes.

3. How long does it take to complete a bachelor’s degree through this program?

The business program has been designed so that students with their associate’s degree can completed it in two years. Thanks to seamless transfer arrangements, students can achieve their degrees efficiently without extended time at public institutions.

4. Can currently enrolled second-year students at GCCC who are about to complete their associate’s degree be eligible for Newman’s program in the fall?

Yes, students who are close to completing their associate’s at GCCC can be eligible for Newman’s program. They will need to go through a transfer process, and a case-by-case evaluation will determine the best pathway for them to complete their bachelor’s degree at Newman.

5. How does this partnership benefit the community?

This partnership allows students in Garden City and southwest Kansas to have access to four-year and master’s degree opportunities without needing to travel extensively. This local access can significantly increase degree completion rates and retain talent within the region.

6. How does this partnership tackle the issue of affordability?

Newman University will be offering the most competitive and generous scholarship it has ever offered, ensuring that every student graduating from GCCC will receive a $20,000 scholarship. Furthermore, Newman University will match any state or federal Pell Grant program dollar-for-dollar up to $7,500.

7. Do students have to be full-time to qualify for the scholarship?

Yes, to be eligible for the scholarship, students must be full-time. However, the program operates on eight-week semesters, allowing students to take two classes at a time, which provides more flexibility for working students.

8. How will this partnership impact local businesses?

With more individuals completing their degrees in Garden City, local businesses can benefit from a larger and more qualified talent pool. This situation can foster economic growth and business development in the region.

9. Can local businesses still provide additional financial support through sponsorships or scholarships?

Absolutely. The partnership encourages engagement with local businesses, foundations and organizations to help students bridge any financial gaps they may have. Tuition remission programs and scholarships can be utilized to provide additional financial support.

10. How can interested students find out more and begin the process?

Interested students can contact the representatives from GCCC and Newman University to get more information and start the enrollment process. These representatives will guide them through the steps to begin their journey toward completing a four-year bachelor’s degree right in their hometown.

11. What is the application process for students interested in enrolling in the program?

The application process is straightforward. Students will apply through Newman University as transfer students, submit their official transcripts from all previous educational institutions and complete the FAFSA for financial aid. Once accepted, they will receive information about their scholarship and financial aid package.

12. What degree programs are available for students interested in pursuing a career in the medical field?

While the initial offerings focus on business and agribusiness, the partnership is considering other programs, including nursing and health professions, to cater to the needs of students interested in the medical field. The goal is to align programs based on community needs and student interests.


  • Face-to-face instruction: Unlike online programs, students work with instructors in person.
  • Flexibility: Zoom-enabled classrooms allow students to attend classes remotely when needed.
  • Clear pathway: Newman provides a structured roadmap from the beginning to the end of the program, reducing guesswork.
  • Personalized approach: Students are not just numbers; faculty and staff at Newman know their names and support them individually.
  • Customizable features: Students can work with faculty to tailor their program based on their interests and goals.
  • What degree programs are currently available through this partnership? The partnership offers various degree programs, including business (with concentrations in marketing, management, leadership) and agribusiness (focused on applying business skills to the agricultural industry). NOTE: Nursing and allied health to be added starting spring 2024 term (January 2024).

Southwest Kansas transfer program

Newman University is honored to partner with community colleges in southwest Kansas to ensure residents can pursue their academic and professional goals without having to uproot their lives or travel great distances.