Greenville College recently announced a credit-granting partnership with the Greenville Federal Correctional Institution (FCI). Prison officials and college representatives launched the “Greenville College @ Greenville FCI” higher education program on August 8, 2014.
“Over the last several years, working at the local prison, one of my big hopes has been to establish an official credit-granting college-in-prison connection between the College and the Greenville FCI,” said Kent Dunnington, associate professor of philosophy and religion at Greenville College and coordinator of the Greenville College Prison Initiative. “Christians have a gospel call (Matthew 25) to care for prisoners, and there are 1,500 prisoners two miles from our campus who desperately need education.”
Since 2009, the Greenville College Prison Initiative has implemented a wide array of connections between the College and the FCI, including student tutoring programs, GED preparation classes, chess matches and student-led reading groups.
“We have taught college-level classes to both the male and the female populations of the FCI,” Dunnington explained. “Without any expectation of college credit, men and women serving time have poured themselves into these courses. Now, through Greenville College @ Greenville FCI, they will have transferable college credits to show for their work when they re-enter society.”
Dunnington joined Greenville College President Ivan Filby and Vice President for Academic Affairs Edwin Estevez at the program launch, along with FCI Warden James Cross and FCI Director of Education and GC alumnus Stan Pickett. The College hopes to provide two courses each term (fall, spring and summer) that enrollees can take for transferable credit. Kick-off begins this fall with one course offered in the men’s facility, expanding to two courses this spring. Jake Amundson, associate professor for art and digital media, will teach Drawing I to a group of 20 men this fall.
Greenville College will also grant retroactive credit to prisoners who have previously completed courses in Spiritual Autobiography, Logic, and Ethics.
In addition to offering credit classes, Greenville College will continue to facilitate non-credit enrichment classes and GED preparation classes including Spanish-language GED classes taught by Professor of History Richard Huston ’78. Last year, students served as tutors in the GED classes and participated alongside inmates in a reading enrichment group. They have already prepared to facilitate another reading enrichment group that will take place this fall at the women’s facility.