Trustees back state bill to expand degree offerings

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On April 6 the Delta College board of trustees passed a resolution in support of Assembly Bill (AB) 927, which, if made law, would extend and expand the community college baccalaureate pilot program. 

In 2014, Senate Bill (SB) 850 was signed into law authorizing the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to select 15 community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees. Those colleges were selected in 2015 following an application period. 

Delta applied for the pilot program with plans to offer an Electron Microscopy degree, according to a Jan. 20, 2015, presentation given to the board of trustees by then-Vice President of Instruction Dr. Matt Wetstein. Electron Microscopy was chosen at the time because of its distinctiveness, according to the presentation.

Ultimately, Delta was not selected for the program. Modesto Junior College was the closest community college chosen to offer a bachelor’s degree, in respiratory care.

SB 850 was designed as a pilot program, and is due to expire in 2026. AB 927 would remove the expiration date on the program and allow for additional schools to begin offering bachelor’s degrees. 

In their letter of support, the Delta board of trustees cites the high demand for bachelor’s degrees, the high cost of university and low average income of San Joaquin county residents as reasons for supporting the passage of AB 927. 

“The passage of this bill is especially significant for our community members in San Joaquin County,” read the letter.

It is unclear what bachelor’s degree Delta College would offer, but community colleges offering bachelor’s degrees cannot duplicate programs already offered by UCs or CSUs under the provisions of both SB 850 and AB 927.

AB 927 is sponsored in the State Assembly by Jose Medina of district 61, representing Riverside and Moreno Valley in Southern California. 

The Riverside community college district serving Medina’s constituents consists of three schools: Riverside, Moreno, and Norco colleges. None of these schools are included in the 15 authorized to run bachelor’s programs under SB 850.