Newman’s partnership with Seward County Community College expands access to higher education

Aug 29, 2023

Newman University and Seward County Community College (SCCC) have announced a pioneering partnership aimed at providing community college graduates access to affordable, in-person four-year degrees locally. The announcement was made during a recent luncheon on the SCCC campus in Liberal, attended by SCCC President Brad Bennett and Newman’s Vice President of Academic Affairs Alden Stout.

“When we talk about education, we all talk about one thing — access,” Bennett said. “We live in the lowest educated county in the state of Kansas. We have to own that, and we have to make it better. … This partnership with Newman is a huge step in the right direction.”

Seward County Community College President Brad Bennett
Seward County Community College President Brad Bennett

This partnership seeks to address the barriers to higher education that many Seward County residents face, especially those related to location and cost. Students graduating from SCCC will now have the option to complete their bachelor’s degrees on the same campus, eliminating the need to relocate.

“There’s a lot of research that shows that if there is not a university option within 50 miles, the rates of post-secondary education attainment plummet,” said Stout. “It’s really about distance, and more importantly, it’s about the kind of education people in this region need.”

Newman Vice President for Academic Affairs Alden Stout discusses the partnership during luncheon as SCCC President Bennett listens.
Newman Vice President for Academic Affairs Alden Stout discusses the partnership during a luncheon as SCCC President Bennett listens.

The program is innovative in that both institutions will share resources such as classroom space and faculty. Newman University will provide graduates from SCCC an automatic $20,000 scholarship each year. For students for whom this would not be sufficient, a need-based grant match program is in place to make a four-year degree as affordable as $750 a year, depending on financial need.

(Left to Right) Jessica Bird, Newman's Dean of School of Education & Social Work, Stout and Bennett (Courtesy SCCC)
(Left to right) Jessica Bird, Newman’s dean of School of Education & Social Work, Stout and Bennett (Courtesy SCCC)

“Innovation is what we’ve lost in higher education,” Bennett remarked. “Newman’s approach to solving this crisis through a joint partnership is what makes this so groundbreaking.”

Newman University has served the southwest Kansas region since the mid-’90s through its education programs. Initially, degrees in education, business management, and agribusiness will be offered through the partnership, with a nursing program to be added in the spring semester. As further needs of the students and regional employers are identified, Newman plans to expand offerings.

Stout talks about the partnership at the announcement luncheon.
Stout talks about the partnership at the announcement luncheon.

“This is what Newman is about. Serving underserved students is in our DNA,” Stout said. “We’re committed to providing a personalized plan for each student’s educational goals.”

Newman’s “Degree of Difference” aims to offer more than mere education; it’s crafted to be a transformative experience. Newman President Kathleen Jagger explained, “We hold that Newman’s ‘Degree of Difference’ is becoming an even more valuable and life-changing pursuit. It should be available to all.”

Newman President Kathleen S. Jagger

“We are convinced that education serves as a driving force for both individual growth and community vitality. Our graduates are poised to be agents of positive change. With an increasing variety of courses available in southwest Kansas, we intend to fill a critical void in local higher education. This allows students to obtain bachelor’s degrees in fields like business, education and soon nursing and more, all without leaving their home communities.”

Both schools have called on the community to spread the word about this partnership and to help identify local workforce needs that can be addressed through additional degrees and programs.

“What things can we do? Spread the word, help us identify the workforce needs in the region,” Stout added. “Some employers have tuition assistance programs. We want to talk to them about how we can help them utilize those programs as effectively as we move forward.”


According to Bennett, many SCCC students are close to full Pell Grant recipients, which means the cost for a four-year degree could be negligible when coupled with this new program. “It’s pretty crazy when you step back and think about the opportunity that exists for our community,” he added.

The two schools see this partnership as not just a collaboration between institutions, but also as a community-wide endeavor that could significantly change the educational landscape in Seward County and southwest Kansas.

FAQ for the Seward County Community College and Newman University partnership

  • What is the SCCC-Newman partnership all about?
    The partnership aims to offer affordable, accessible bachelor’s degree programs in business and agribusiness to students in the Seward County area. The program’s primary focus is to serve students who wish to complete their education without leaving their local community.
  • Who is eligible for this program?
    Any student who has graduated or will graduate from Seward County Community College is eligible for the program. The program accepts graduates from as far back as the founding of SCCC in 1967.
  • Does the program consider previous credits for those who already have some?
    Yes, the program will look at the credits you already have, even if you have already graduated. The program has a flexible and effective transfer policy.
  • Who should I talk to for more information about transferring credits? Email: [email protected], call 620-227-9616 or fill out this form.

Program Details

Layla the Goat on SCCC campus
  • What is the duration of the business and agribusiness programs?
    If a student enters the program with an associate’s degree, the business and agribusiness programs are designed to be completed in two years.
  • Is an interdisciplinary degree an option?
    An interdisciplinary degree is an area that could be explored, though as of now, the focus is on business and agribusiness degrees.
  • Why did Seward County Community College choose to partner with Newman University?
    Newman University was the first to address the financial constraints that many students in the area face. The partnership also stands out because it is more collaborative, focusing on access and affordability.
  • What information tools are currently available for this program?
    There is a new website for the Seward County Community College students and alumni that offers information about the partnership and current available programs.
  • Are there any support groups or student activities to help students through the program?
    Programs incorporate a cohort model that provides support of instructors and collaboration with students going through coursework at the same time.
  • What about students who want to start their four-year program while completing their associate’s degree?
    Students can begin the Newman program while they are completing their associate’s degree, and efforts will be made to facilitate reverse transfer to ensure that they complete their associate’s degrees as well.

For more information on the new partnership, degree programs, and scholarship opportunities, visit the Newman-SCCC partnership webpage.

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