Gavilan College to offer bachelor’s degree program?

Gavilan College logo.

If Senate Bill 850 passes through the state legislature, then a select few Gavilan College students may be able to acquire a bachelor’s degree from the community college in the future, according to Chancellor Steve Kinsella.
“It’s definitely something we’re very interested in,” said Kinsella, who is well versed on the bill introduced by State Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego). “I think it will happen. It needs to happen.”
However, there have been four failed attempts since 2004 to pass a similar bill granting community colleges permission to offer bachelor’s degrees, according to an EdSource report. That same report states that the proposal faces likely opposition from CSU, UC and even some corners of the community college system.
Meanwhile, community colleges in 21 other states already offer some four-year degree programs.
The current bill would allow for only one bachelor’s degree program per community college. Kinsella said the four-year degree would probably be in a workforce field in high demand of certified employees such as nursing, aviation mechanics, water management or law enforcement administration – all currently offered at Gavilan as two-year associate degree programs.
“We’d be looking at those programs,” Kinsella said, noting that most, if not all, Gavilan faculty already hold master’s and doctorate degrees in their respective fields necessary to teach students in a four-year bachelor’s program.
“We’ve always had the staff with the skills, education and experience to teach at the university level,” he continued. “That’s just not been their role here. That’s not what we’ve asked them to do.”
Kinsella explained that Gavilan, as well as the state’s other community colleges, don’t want to compete or duplicate programs already being offered at nearby UC or CSU programs. Gavilan’s main Gilroy campus is situated about 40 miles south of San Jose State University and roughly the same distance north of CSU Monterey Bay.
“We would not want to offer things that students could already get at other locations,” said Kinsella, who may target Gavilan for a four-year nursing degree if the bill passes since “any of the medical areas” are high demand positions.
Gavilan has offered an associate’s degree for nursing for at least 40 years, Kinsella said. Once the coursework is completed, nursing students then take an exam to become certified as a registered nurse. However, a bachelor’s degree is needed to further their professional career.
Kinsella hopes additional state funding for community colleges would accompany any new bachelor’s degree program being offered to supplement costs for things such as lab equipment and other instructional support materials needed to learn at a more advanced level.
“This could be off the ground running in a couple of years (depending on the state legislature),” Kinsella said. “I think we could put it together rather quickly (at Gavilan).”