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    Palomar supports new bachelor degree program

    Palomar supports new bachelor degree program

    Palomar’s Governing Board motioned to support Senate Bill 850 on April 8, which will allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees to help fill the local job demand.

    Introduced in January by State Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego), SB-850 would authorize the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges to approve a pilot program allowing each two year college to offer one bachelor’s degree program.

    “We’re finding that jobs that used to just require first a high school and then maybe a two-year associate’s degree, are now becoming more and more technical and really do require additional years of study,” Block said.

    Some of those jobs include automotive technology, public safety management, veterinary services and nursing.

    According to the bill, each community college district will be responsible for identifying the job needs in its community and enter into agreement with local businesses and agencies to provide education services needed for the baccalaureate pilot program.

    If approved, each participating community college would be allowed to offer only one bachelor’s degree during the eight year pilot period and that degree can vary from one district to the next.

    “It’s really about filling work force needs, which are different in every community,” Block said.

    Block said the timing is right because for the first time in a few years, there is a small surplus in the budget that can be used to help fund new programs and President Obama talked about the need to better prepare Americans for jobs during last year’s State of the Union Address.

    “The Governor has talked about the same thing, except that he put $50 million in the budget proposal into a pool to help get more people bachelor’s degrees and get them quickly,” Block said.

    During a KPBS interview in 2013 Block said besides state funding, students would have to pay more than the $46 per unit that current community college students pay now, but would still pay less than attending a four-year school.

    Associated Student Government President Genesis Gilroy, who voted against supporting the bill, points out that not all the details have been thought through enough.

    Gilroy said that besides the extra financial costs that Palomar will have to pay for faculty in the beginning, she fears that the value of a bachelor’s degree will be negatively affected in the long run.

    Also, the relationship between community colleges and the Cal State Universities will be hurt by the animosity from competition for money and students according to Gilroy.

    If the bill does get approved, Palomar College District President Robert Deegan said that nursing would be on top of the list for the degree that Palomar would offer.

    “I’ll tell you here that the one degree that comes to the forefront is nursing,” Deegan said. “That’s where this all began. The need for additional nurses.”

    Nursing Department Chair Judy Eckhart said that according to a report published in 2011 by the Institute of Medicine, 80 percent of nurses should have a bachelor’s degree by 2020 and hospitals right now are focused on achieving that goal.

    “There’s physically not enough programs that train bachelors and that’s why the need.” Eckhart said. “We need more bachelors being trained to meet this 2020 deadline.”

    Eckhart explained that the difference between a two-year and a four-year degree in nursing is leadership and management.

    “At a four-year school, the first year is GE courses, then years two and three are what we offer, and then year four is leadership, management and usually research.” Eckhart said.

    Currently the bill has been referred to the Committee of Education and set for hearing on April 24, but Block is confident that the bill will pass.

    “All these things are pushing in the direction of saying that now is the time and I think that now I’m optimistic this time around,” Block said.

    Deegan also seems confident that this will be approved and wants to make sure that Palomar is not left on the sidelines.

    “It’s in the legislature right now, and it does have political legs,” Deegan said. “He (Block) tried a couple of years ago and it went flat, but this does as so we’ll stand-by and you know we’re watching, but we want to be prepared.


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    Palomar supports new bachelor degree program