Colorado Bill Could Strengthen Workforce, Increase College Attendance Opportunities

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Posted Wed, Feb 27, 2013

DENVER – Four-year Bachelor’s degrees at community colleges may seem unheard of, but a number of states have been offering them for some time, and Colorado may soon jump on the bandwagon.

FRCC sign

Community Colleges such as Front Range could offer select four-year degrees should Senate Bill 165 be passed.
(photo courtesy of Rich62, virtual tourist.com)

The recently proposed Senate Bill 165 would allow Colorado Community Colleges to offer a limited number of four-year degrees not offered at higher education institutions. Rep. Nancy Todd, D-Arapahoe and Rep. Jim Wilson, R-Chaffee sponsored the bill, and it has also garnered the support of some Colorado Community College officials, who say the passage of the bill could serve an important workforce need.

“The flexibility of community colleges to respond to workforce demands will have a significant impact on the Colorado economy by providing skilled workers for employers,” said Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System.

In addition to cost, location plays a deciding factor in whether or not some can attend college, and McCallin says this bill also addresses these issues.

“In our student surveys, 92 percent of the students cite the geographic location of our colleges as a priority in deciding to attend,” she says. “[Bringing] a limited number of programs identified as high demand workforce careers will allow them to stay in their communities while they get their education.”

Andy Dorsey, president of Front Range Community College, shares in McCallin’s sentiments and agrees that this bill would rectify location troubles many students face.

“Students in Denver have access to excellent culinary education at Johnson and Wales, but a student in Colorado Springs or Fort Collins may not be bale to make the move or the commute,” Dorsey says. “A community college might be able to provide access to a culinary B.A. degree much closer to home.”

The four-year programs community colleges will adopt are not being named at this time, McCallin says, although Dental Hygiene and Interpreter Preparation are two possibilities. However, a process for determining which programs will be implemented is currently in the works.

“When the legislation is passed, the colleges will then begin feasibility studies for potential programs. The colleges will look at the work force need, costs, resources, and student demand for a particular degree from both a student and employer perspective,” McCallin says.

Once decided, the programs must be approved by both the CCCS governing board and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education in order to be eligible for accreditation.

The passage of SB 165 could also open doors to other discussions within the Colorado college system, such as higher education institutions offering remedial education options. Ken McConnellogue, vice president of University Communication at CU-Denver, is hopeful for these conversations to happen.

“Should community colleges be allowed to offer four-year degrees, we think there should be a larger discussion about whether four-year institutions should be able to offer two-year degrees and conduct student remediation, which is now largely limited to community colleges,” McConnellogue said.

Senate Bill 165 — Legislative Declaration
(1) The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:
(a) It is a priority in Colorado to afford the citizens in rural and
urban areas of the state greater access to higher education; and
(b) Four-year baccalaureate degrees are of increasing importance
in enabling individuals to qualify for and obtain jobs.
(2) It is therefore in the best interests of the state of Colorado to
allow community colleges within the state system to offer a limited
number of four-year baccalaureate degrees.

About Aaron Lambert

I am a convergent journalism major in my senior year at MSU Denver. I was born and raised a native here in Colorado, and I currently live in Westminster, CO with my wife and pup. I am an avid lover of music, specifically heavy/extreme metal, and I regularly scribble words about such topics over at the underground metal blog Heavy Blog Is Heavy.

View all posts by Aaron Lambert

4 Responses to “Colorado Bill Could Strengthen Workforce, Increase College Attendance Opportunities”

  1. Davy Says:

    Very informative story. Good quotes and good side bar about the Senate Bill.

    Reply

  2. S.L. Alderton Says:

    Great information in this article. Thanks for putting the actual legislation at the bottom–it’s always helpful to know what these laws really say.

    Reply

  3. Jen Sasser Says:

    PULITZER WORTHY. This story rocks!

    Reply

  4. Emily Pennetti Says:

    Nicely done! very informative and great writing

    Reply

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