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State Board Rejects Allan Hancock College’s Proposal for 4-Year Degree

15 community colleges are approved to offer bachelor’s degrees under pilot program

Allan Hancock College’s proposal to offer a four-year degree for vineyard management was not included in 15 pilot programs approved by the California Community College Board of Governors.

Hancock was among the 34 colleges that submitted applications to the Chancellor’s Office last month.

“I can’t say we’re not disappointed. We believe we put together a very solid application,” Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers said. “The selected degrees represent the ability of the community college system to create more opportunities and increase access for students to complete their education.”

Santa Barbara City College didn’t apply due to the stipulation that community colleges couldn’t propose a program already offered at a California State University or University of California campus, spokeswoman Joan Galvan said.

The Santa Maria-based college had proposed offering a bachelor’s degree in applied viticulture, a non-traditional field that focused on vineyard management, Hancock officials said.

“Our degree was more about using applied technology to build a sustainable vineyard that maximized water resources and adapted to climate change. They are all important topics for the agriculture community,” Walthers said.

Completion of Hancock’s application was a faculty-driven process led by academic dean Paul Murphy, agribusiness instructor Eric Shiers and agribusiness/viticulture program director Alfredo Koch, among others, college officials noted.

Sites picked for the pilot program include dental hygiene programs at Foothill and West Los Angeles community colleges and respiratory therapy programs at Skyline College and Modesto Junior College.

The closest community college to the Central Coast selected for the pilot program was Bakersfield College, which applied to offer a bachelor’s degree in industrial automation. 

Among the other colleges selected were Antelope Valley College (airframe manufacturing technology), Cypress College (mortuary science), Feather River (equine industry), Rio Hondo (automotive technology), Crafton Hills (emergency services and allied health systems), MiraCosta (biomanufacturing), San Diego Mesa (health information management), Santa Ana (occupational therapy), Santa Monica (interaction design) and Shasta College (health information management).

State officials said lower-division coursework would cost $46 and upper-division coursework would cost $84 under the new program, with an estimated total cost of about $10,000 to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

The pilot program is the result of Senate Bill 850 that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in September. The law allowed up to 15 community colleges across the state to start bachelor’s degree programs unavailable in either California State University or the University of California. 

Applicants were required to describe the pilot programs, evaluate student interest and community support, research the labor market and labor demand, research and avoid duplications of UC and CSU majors, and illustrate upper division coursework and identify resources to demonstrate college capacities. 

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris said the quality of the application, labor market demand and geographic distribution helped to distinguish the applicants from one another.

“These colleges are embarking on a new mission for the California Community Colleges that will expand opportunities in public higher education,” Harris said. “Students will have a range of programs from which to choose to earn high quality, affordable and in-demand degrees. California employers win too, as they will have improved access to highly qualified candidates in these fields.”

The law requires the new programs to begin as early as next fall and no later than 2017-18 with degrees completed by the 2022-23 academic year.

Harris and his staff will begin to meet with the selected colleges, as well as with members of the UC and CSU systems before bringing the item back to the Board of Governors for final review in March.

California joins 21 other states that allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees.  

Walthers said Hancock College will continue to explore partnerships with the California State University system and Cal Poly to offer four-year degrees in the area. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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