The Los Rios Community College District is reportedly not interested in seeking to offer baccalaureate degree programs, although Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last month allowing up to 15 California Community Colleges to launch such programs in some vocational fields.
Mitchel Benson, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications and Media Relations for Los Rios, said that although Los Rios supports the new law it is not interested in bachelor’s degree programs for itself.
“The Los Rios district is not considering it at this time,” Benson said. “Chancellor Brian King sent a letter in support to Gov. Brown, but we have no plans to propose baccalaureate programs.”
The reason, Benson said, is that the district is focusing on other priorities.
“Our priorities are with the Associate’s Degree for Transfer and for more ways for students to transfer to state universities,” he said.
Jane Harmon, President of Yuba College in Marysville, said that her college is interested in one of the pilot programs for baccalaureate degrees.
“We have to apply to be part of the pilot program,” she said. “The discussion on our campus is number one, what do we want to pilot? And number two, what degree? What I can tell you is that I’m from Minnesota and this is something that 21 states have. In many ways, it’s very similar to the technical degrees in Europe.”
“I’m thrilled California is looking at this,” she added. “We’re looking at machine manufacturing.”
The legislation, which was signed by Brown, was introduced by State Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego.
In a press release by California Community College Chancellor Brice W. Harris, the chancellor praised the passage of the law as a way to improve job opportunities for community college students.
“Employers in California seek candidates with advanced credentials and many struggle to fill positions in some of the fields that will be covered under the new program,” Harris said. “This law will help us to meet California’s workforce needs, does not duplicate CSU or UC degree programs, and gives more Californians access to affordable higher education that can enable them to obtain well-paying jobs.”
Vincent Stewart, the Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations for the California Community College Chancellor’s office, said that the 15 pilot programs have to be in 15 different districts.
“The law allows for 15 pilot programs at 15 different districts,” he said. “At districts with multiple colleges, it’s only one campus per district.”
The law also only allows for community college baccalaureate programs to be programs that are not offered by any state university.
“Language in the legislation prohibits duplicating degrees that are available at the University of California or the California State University,” Stewart said. “There would be a degree that would be different, more applied in nature, and based on the economy and workforce needs of the region in which they would be offered.”
The times in which colleges can apply to start a baccalaureate degree program have not been set yet by the chancellor’s office, but they hope to have colleges begin to apply shortly after the law goes into effect on January 1, 2015.
“Programs are to begin no later than the 2017-2018 academic year,” Stewart said. “Our expectation is sooner based on the interests that we’ve been made aware of.”