fisk_mdc_fc.jpgMiami Dade College forged a new partnership with Fisk University last week.

The two institutions of higher learning signed an agreement April 9 that will ease the way for MDC students to transfer to the historically black college in Nashville, Tenn.

MDC students will be allowed to transfer to Fisk upon receiving their Associate in Arts degree in Miami.

The “collaborative admissions agreement’’ streamlines the process for MDC’s liberal arts students to enter the storied college, founded in 1866 to educate freed slaves.

Some famous Fisk alumni include W.E.B. DuBois, James Weldon Johnson, composer of the lyrics to what is known as the black national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,’’ and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings.

Other Fisk alumni include MDC Homestead Campus President Jeanne Jacobs and MDC District Board of Trustees Vice Chair Peter Roulhac. Both attended the agreement signing between the two schools.

MDC students can apply for a transfer during the final year of their associate’s degree program, and if they meet Fisk’s academic requirements, they could enter the college as juniors, according to Norma Martin Goonen, MDC’s provost for academic and student affairs.

Goonen signed the agreement with Fisk Executive Vice President and Provost Kofi Lommotey at MDC’s north campus in northern Miami-Dade County.

“The agreement establishes guidelines and procedures for the transfer of our students to Fisk University,’’ said Goonen, adding that the transfers would not be automatic.

Miami Dade students would be required to submit an application, essay, transcripts and recommendations, and can opt for a college entrance interview.

Goonen said that in addition to allowing transferring students to apply for financial aid, Fisk plans to consider substantial scholarship awards to two MDC students each year. The scholarships would help defray some of the $23,050 the HBCU (an acronym for historically black colleges and universities) charges annually for tuition, room and board. 

Fisk joins 74 other colleges and universities that have signed admissions agreements with Miami Dade College, the nation’s largest post-secondary institution, with some 165,000 students enrolled at eight campuses around the county.

The former community college began offering four-year degrees in 2003. It opened in 1960 amid a flurry of school desegregation efforts in Florida following the Supreme Court’s “Brown v. Board of Education’’ decision six years earlier.

According to the book Black Miami in the 20th Century by retired Florida International University professor Marvin Dunn, MDC became one of the first desegregated public schools in Florida, as well as in the southeastern U.S., when a handful of black students from the then-segregated Northwestern Center branch were admitted to what was then an all-white campus.

Photo: Kofi Lomotey, left, Fisk University’s executive vice president and provost, and Norma Goonen, right, Miami Dade College’s provost for academic and student affairs, shake hands after signing an admissions agreement between the two insitutions.