A bill that would allow some California community colleges to offer certain four-year degrees was approved by the State Assembly Committee on Higher Education on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 850, which passed through the California State Senate in May, would allow 15 community colleges to offer one four-year degree as early as January 2015 and starting no later than the 2017-18 academic year. The pilot program would have a trial period of eight years.
The Lake Tahoe Community College has openly supported the bill, claiming it would add another affordable and quality service to the area.
“During our vision session last fall, our community told us they want to see four-year education in South Lake Tahoe,” LTCC President Kindred Murillo said in a statement, “and we are trying to make sure the LTCC 2020 Vision becomes a reality. This is a big step toward making that happen.”
A committee comprised of faculty, staff, administrators and board members will convene in the fall to talk about the possibility of being chosen as a school for the pilot program.
The college believes it is “potentially in a good position” to be selected as a participant if the bill becomes law, according to a press release.
“We believe LTCC is uniquely positioned because we are two hours away from a CSU or a UC school, we have a very highly qualified faculty that could easily teach at a four-year college or university, we are in a world-class environment, and we are on the quarter system,” Murillo stated. “We are also reaffirmed as accredited, have the capacity, and our community is backing us.”
Working with the California State University and University of California systems, the California Community Colleges chancellor and Board of Governors would choose the 15 college districts to participate in the pilot program.
Selected schools would be required to meet a variety of requirements, including offering bachelor’s degrees that aren’t available at California’s public four-year schools and documenting the unmet workforce needs the degree would fill.
The UC system has not taken a position on SB850 yet, according to LTCC. However, the CSU system has.
California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris praised the action of the State Assembly Committee on Higher Education after the June 24 vote.
“I applaud the Assembly Higher Education Committee for approving this bill designed to address unmet workforce needs where career entry requirements have progressed beyond the associate degree level,” he said in a statement. “The legislation would expand education access and job training opportunities for thousands of Californians.”