Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo)
Senate Bill expanding Baccalaureate Pilot Program clears major hurdle
State legislation that would expand and extend a pilot program allowing a limited number of California community colleges to offer a bachelor’s degree passed a key test Wednesday when the Senate Education Committee unanimously endorsed the bill.
SB 769, authored by state Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), now goes before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The legislation seeks to expand the number of community college baccalaureate programs from 15 to 25 while also extending the pilot program – which is due to expire in 2023 – to July 1, 2028. Another key provision would lift a clause in the pilot program prohibiting a community college from offering a bachelor’s degree offered by the California State University or University of California systems – but only if the community college is more than 100 miles from a CSU or UC campus with a similar degree.
The baccalaureate pilot program was authorized through Senate Bill 850, authored by former state Senator Marty Block, which gave the California Community Colleges system approval to offer one bachelor’s degree in a limited number of workforce-preparation skills. Fifteen community colleges – including San Diego Mesa College – were selected to take part in the program. Mesa College is one of them, offering a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management. Launched in 2015, Mesa’s degree program prepares students to work at a management level in a variety of healthcare settings and with salaries of up to $144,000 annually.
“Employers tell us they need well-trained students with degrees in these workforce fields,” said San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) Chancellor Constance Carroll, who chaired the statewide campaign in support of SB 850, is co-chairing a similar effort on behalf of SB 769, and who testified at Wednesday’s committee hearing. “Senate Bill 769 is necessary to ensure that students in these pilot programs have every opportunity to complete their degrees and successfully transition to the workforce.”
Several faculty and students also spoke in support including Mesa College Health Information Management Program Director Connie Renda and Health Information Management student Vivianna Blair Watson.