Automotive technology majors Andrew Hutchins, 20, and Anthony Sardegna, 21, were chosen and recognized as outstanding students in the college’s technical program. (Lariat File Photo)
On Sunday, Sept. 28, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 850 relating to public postsecondary education.
Commencing on Jan. 1, 2014, SB850 will allow students to obtain bachelor degrees from community colleges statewide. California will become the 22nd state to offer four-year degrees.
An example of the verbiage of SB850 reads,
This bill would, commencing January 1, 2015, authorize the board of governors, in consultation with the California State University and the University of California, to establish a statewide baccalaureate degree pilot program at not more than 15 community college districts, with one baccalaureate degree program each, to be determined by the chancellor and approved by the board of governors.
These 15 colleges, as a part of a pilot program, will offer a variety of degrees that are not offered through the California State University or a University of California systems.
The fields of study include speciality jobs like dental hygiene, automotive technology, and various other technology jobs requiring a bachelor degree.
Tere Fluegeman, director of public affairs and government relations for the South Orange County Community College District answered several questions regarding the bill, as it pertains to Saddleback College.
LARIAT: Of the 15 pilot colleges, will this include both SB and IVC? Has a specific program been targeted or is one particular program under consideration?
FLUEGEMAN: Only one college per district can qualify. I believe Saddleback may be interested in applying for their automotive technology program but I think they are waiting for the criteria to come out of the state chancellor’s office (very soon).
LARIAT: If not, what’s the procedure to select a particular program for the bachelor’s degree?
FLUEGEMAN: The state chancellor’s office is implementing a process. They will report to the board of governors by Mar. 15, 2014.
LARIAT: What do you see as the most positive aspect of this opportunity?
FLUEGEMAN: The opportunity for more students to get bachelor’s degrees faster and cheaper in certain high demand areas of the workforce – technical areas where employers need skilled, educated workers. Here is a good article published on it today: http://www.caeconomy.org/reporting/entry/new-law-allows-california-community-colleges-to-offer-4-year-degrees
LARIAT: Looking ahead, what do you feel are the district’s goals by adding this program?
FLUEGEMAN: Help train students for technical jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree. Students need jobs and CA employers need workers. The state needs an educated workforce for economic stability. SB 850 was strongly supported by business and industry because they see firsthand that we can’t get students educated fast enough using the current system.
LARIAT: It was mentioned in a board report that “this is long overdue…” Has this initiative been approached in the past for the state’s community college system?
FLUEGEMAN: I believe it was approached in the past. Now 21 other states are doing it and there is a compelling need given the fact that CA will need one million bachelor’s degrees to fill jobs in CA by 2025.
California is currently below the national average for people having bachelor degrees, according to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. As a state, there are hopes of bettering the education system and in turn, bettering the work place.