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COC board votes to support baccalaureate bill

Posted: April 17, 2014 6:40 p.m.
Updated: April 17, 2014 6:40 p.m.

Members of the College of the Canyons Board of Trustees voted this week to lend their support to a state Senate bill that would establish a pilot program allowing some community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees.

In its current form the bill, Senate Bill 850, would establish an eight-year pilot program that would enable community colleges, such as College of the Canyons in the Santa Clarita Valley, to create a baccalaureate degree program.

“The bill is pretty specific,” COC spokesman Eric Harnish said Thursday. “Participating colleges would be able to offer degrees in subject areas that address unmet workforce needs.”

For College of the Canyons, that could mean programs in the technology or health care fields, but Harnish said it’s still too early to say for sure what type of program COC would look to offer if the bill is passed.

“Current law does not allow us to offer upper-division coursework needed for a bachelor’s degree,” Harnish said.
Harnish said the idea has been proposed in various forms before.

“I think that, given the need that California has for an educated workforce, this bill has attracted a lot of attention and support,” Harnish said.

Part of the rationale behind the bill, according to Harnish, is the fact that research warns California may face a shortage in college graduates in the near future.

A report from the Public Policy Institute of California stated that, if current trends continue, 41 percent of jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree by 2025, but current trends suggest only 35 percent of working-age adults in California will have bachelor’s degrees by that year.

“When you look at California’s economy, projections show that the state needs to produce an additional one million bachelor’s degree holders by 2025, and that’s a little more than 10 years away,” Harnish said. “So when you see that need, I think you have to explore a variety of options to be able to meet that goal and ensure that our economy can continue to thrive and grow.”

COC board members voted 4-0 Wednesday to approve a resolution in support of the bill. Board member Bruce Fortine was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Education Committee on April 24.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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