Saddleback College may offer degree in applied science in sustainable environmental design

Members of Academic Senate in Wednesday's meeting go over the details of the proposed baccalaureate degree. (Photographer/Anibal Santos)

Members of Academic Senate in Wednesday’s meeting go over the details of the proposed baccalaureate degree. (Photographer/Anibal Santos)

Saddleback College’s Academic Senate approved a proposal for the South Orange County Community College District’s application to the state to be one of 15 California community college districts to establish a baccalaureate pilot program on Wednesday, Nov. 5.

Under California Senate Bill 850, the legislation outlining the pilot program, Saddleback may have the opportunity to offer a baccalaureate degree in applied science in sustainable environmental design.

“It’s a competitive process, finding out who the best colleges are to provide those 15 degrees,” said Anthony Teng, acting Dean of Advanced Technology & Applied Science.

“Each college would be allowed one degree,” Teng said. “It’s not like going to a Cal State where they have all those degrees. We would just be allowed one.”

The college had to develop a degree that wasn’t being addressed by other four-year universities, so Saddleback would be the only college in California to offer a degree in applied science in sustainable environmental design.

The degree is broad, said Architecture/Drafting Instructor and Academic Senate President Elect Blake Stephens, but aspects of it focus on the human factors of sustainable design, and are cognizant of resources.

“We had to look for a program to offer that was different, or was not being offered or supported at a CSU or a UC,” Teng said.

“We couldn’t do one in environmental studies because there are environmental studies in the UCs. We couldn’t one in architecture because there is a bachelor degree for that offered at a CSU,” he said. “So that’s where we came up with [applied science in sustainable environmental design].”

“The thought process is that the CSUs and the UCs are getting overcrowded,” Teng said. “That’s why the community colleges are getting involved.”

A lot of consideration has been given to offering the courses online. Since this is a statewide program, offering courses for the degree online would foster Saddleback enrollment of students all across California, Teng said.

Orange County is the largest center in the United States to export all of our architecture students from the county out to schools like Cal Poly Pomona, Stephens said, which has an extremely low transfer acceptance rate. Other Saddleback students transfer out of state to receive an education in architecture.

Most transfer students that pursue a degree in architecture pay around $26,000 a year in colleges like the New School of Architecture in San Diego and University of Southern California’s School of Architecture, Stephens said. Tuition can even get up to $65,000 a year at those colleges.

The fee for upper division courses in Saddleback’s proposed degree is currently limited to $84 per unit.

“The program would be available in the fall of 2017 and the group of students going into [the program] would have to finish the degree by the summer of 2023, so basically they have 6 years to finish,” Teng said.

The SOCCCD will have to look over and approve Saddleback’s proposed degree program before it’s submitted to the state for consideration.

“What happened in senate is not a done deal yet because we still need to coordinate within our district that both Irvine Valley College and Saddleback agree that this is going to be the program the district should support,” Teng said.

“[The district is] only allowed to support one program, so if IVC wants a different program, there has to be a discussion on which is the better program to [submit to the state],” he said. “It’s not a sure thing yet, but it’s a good idea.”

If the program goes well, more than 15 degrees in 15 districts may be offered, but for now, Saddleback is competing against all 112 California community colleges for the program, Teng said. “The whole idea of this is to meet local work needs, [and offer a program] where the jobs are.”