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Jack Friedlander: The Next Steps for SBCC Continuing Education

Achieving the Vision Task Force will work to create a fee-based, self-supported program that will meet the needs of all students

A priority of Santa Barbara City College is offering a comprehensive and vibrant Continuing Education (CE) program that is responsive to the needs of the community at a time when state funding to support credit and noncredit education is being substantially reduced.

Dr. Jack Friedlander
Dr. Jack Friedlander

In these difficult economic times, the California Legislature and the California Community Colleges’ Board of Governors have to make difficult choices and are placing priorities on funding certain categories of courses.

On the credit side, these include work force training, basic skills in English and math, and preparation of students for transfer to four-year colleges and universities. Continuing Education (noncredit) courses considered critical are basic skills required for work force and/or college preparation and short-term vocational certificates for employability or job advancement. The Legislature and Board of Governors are putting a lesser value on other noncredit categories of courses by funding them at a lower rate than those identified as priority areas or by not paying for them to be offered.

SBCC remains committed to offering — as we have for nine decades — a robust Continuing Education program dedicated to serving the learning needs for all students. The value of such a well-rounded program is immense. For instance, the arts are a substantial part of the vitality of this community. Outside the classroom, our students support the arts in any of a number of ways, such as attending performances, volunteering their time and financially supporting arts-related organizations. Taking Continuing Education classes also provides students with physical and mental health benefits, including socializing with peers. These individuals stay engaged and contribute to our society in significant ways.

Achieving the Vision for Continuing Education

So what is the next step for SBCC Continuing Education? I recently announced the formation of the Achieving the Vision for Continuing Education Task Force. It will be made up of members of various college and community stakeholders. Much of the work of the task force will be done in work groups that will allow for greater opportunities for community involvement in this effort.

The Achieving the Vision Task Force will be charged with identifying:

» A comprehensive Continuing Education program through a combination of state-supported classes, fee-based classes, and classes and learning experiences supported by external donations.

» Models and strategies for creating and providing the administrative support required to offer a fee-based, self-supported program.

» Strategies and approaches to attract external funds to enable the college to offer learning opportunities that the state will not support or that would be too expensive for many individuals to cover the total cost of the learning experience (e.g., Mind Supermind, current events speakers’ series).

The task force is charged with submitting its recommendations to the college superintendent/president by June 15, 2012.

Center for Lifelong Learning

An important component of the task force is to develop a proposed plan for creating the Center for Lifelong Learning. The center will be a self-supporting entrepreneurial program within the college charged with offering as full a range of fee-based and externally funded classes and programs as possible to meet the demand of such offerings.

Since the Center for Lifelong Learning would be self-supporting, there is no limit on the number and types of classes and programs it could offer. The program would not be subject to the attendance accounting rules and regulations the state requires the classes it supports to follow. The center can truly be a reflection of what the community wants and perceives as its learning needs and is willing to support from enrollment fees and/or donations.

Community Support

Throughout this process, fundraising will be an important component. The Achieving the Vision Task Force will be asked to create a proposed plan to develop and implement the organizational structure needed to generate external support for student scholarships and Continuing Education classes and programs, including those programmed through the Center for Lifelong Learning. Continuing Education will work closely with our Foundation for SBCC to coordinate requests, activities and strategies to develop a CE Endowment campaign.

Next Steps

There will be many opportunities for community stakeholders to participate, share ideas or provide financial support. Beginning in December, click here to check the Continuing Education Web site throughout the winter and spring terms for updates on the work of the task force and how you can contribute to assist the college in achieving the vision for our Continuing Education Division.

— Dr. Jack Friedlander is SBCC’s acting superintendent/president.

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