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SHSU and Area Community College District Sign Agreement

Presidents Pickelman and Gaertner
Presidents John Pickleman, left, of the North Harris Montgomery Community College District, and James F. Gaertner, Sam Houston State University, signed a three-part agreement Tuesday marking increased cooperation between the two institutions.

Sam Houston State University and the North Harris Montgomery Community College District have inaugurated enhancements to their cooperative programs affecting online articulation agreements, joint admissions and reverse transfers.

The agreement was announced with a ceremonial signing by James Gaertner, president of Sam Houston State University and NHMCCD chancellor John Pickelman at the district's University Center in The Woodlands on Tuesday, Feb. 24. Currently the partnership has 3,619 district community college students and graduates enrolled in four-year programs through The University Center and on the campus in Huntsville.

The enhanced program strengthens the articulation agreement between the two entities. Not only will district students be able to transfer credits to SHSU, but now they can also be assured that specific courses completed at district colleges will meet specific degree program requirements at SHSU.

The joint admissions program is being streamlined to enable students to enroll simultaneously at district colleges and at SHSU, speeding acceptance and access to facilities and campus privileges in both institutions.

Reverse transfer is an innovative approach of particular advantage to students who find it necessary to leave NHMCCD prior to completing the Associate Degree. Applying their university credits in reverse transfer toward an associate degree from NHMCCD will give these students the recognition they’ve earned as associate degree holders, increasing their qualifications for scholarships and higher-paying jobs. The district gains the ability to recognize fulfilled associate degree requirements and better document student success.

"Sam Houston State University and the North Harris Montgomery Community College District have enjoyed a strong relationship which has provided an exceptional educational opportunity for many individuals in our region," said Gaertner.

"This enhanced agreement will continue to benefit students, making it possible for people to move effectively and efficiently between educational programs while minimizing the amount of time and money they must invest. We also expect this agreement to be advantageous for our recruitment and retention efforts at Sam Houston State," he added.

Pickelman said, “We are very pleased with the enhancements we are adding to our partnership with Sam Houston State, a key component of The University Center offerings. We are always looking for ways to help our students maximize the value of their time and investment at our colleges. The benefits of our strengthened agreement will be welcomed by students and their families as well as by our district.

Michelle Pham
Michelle Pham

Michelle Pham, a senior journalism/public relations major from Spring, is one of the students who is benefiting from the cooperative program between Sam Houston State and the NHMCC District.
Pham began her college career at North Harris Community College. She plans to graduate from Sam Houston State in December.

"When I started college, I wasn't sure what I wanted to major in, and I wanted to stay close to my family while I took my basic courses," she said.

Among the subjects she took at North Harris were English classes.

"My English classes sparked an interest for me in writing," she said. "My teachers encouraged me to look at a career in journalism. They told me that Sam Houston State had a good journalism program, so I decided to transfer there."

Because of the agreement between Sam Houston State and North Harris, Pham was able to transfer the credits she had earned as a freshman and continue at SHSU without having to catch up on classes.

David Burris, a member of the Sam Houston State computer science faculty, was instrumental in getting the enhanced cooperative agreement off the ground. While serving as chair of his department, he noticed that a large number of computer science students were coming to Sam Houston from community colleges with many credit hours. He saw the need for making agreements with computer science programs from other schools so that students could retain the credits that they had earned before they came to Sam Houston State.

Other academic programs at SHSU expressed a desire to help their transfer students, and Sam Houston State became partners with a number of other community and junior colleges to make the transition for students easier. For example, today students can transfer hours from any one of the colleges in the North Harris Montgomery Community College District and earn degrees at SHSU in 33 majors.

"With the success of the initial articulation agreement interest grew in finding additional ways to meet the educational needs of students in the area," said Burris, "and we found out we could help them through joint admissions and by offering reverse transfer. These initiatives reflect the continued commitment by SHSU and the NHMCC District to continually improve the academic experience for all students at both institutions."

Sam Houston State University, one of the most innovative and diverse universities in Texas, was founded in 1879 as the first teacher-training school in the Southwest. It now has more than 13,000 students and almost 150 bachelor’s master’s and doctoral degrees. Graduates include CBS news anchor Dan Rather, Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and many other government, industry and community leaders. For more information, visit

North Harris Montgomery Community College District, among the largest and fastest growing community college districts in the state comprises North Harris College, Kingwood College, Tomball College, Montgomery College, Cy-Fair College, seven satellite centers and The University Center. For information about the district and its programs, visit


Media Contact: Julia May
Feb. 24, 2004
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