Bachelor degrees at community colleges unclear

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President Robert Vela presents student success preformace updates for this college at the committee of the whole meeting July 18 at Killen. Photo by Deandra Gonzalez

The college president is prioritizing the nursing program.

By Zachary-Taylor Wright

zwright9@student.alamo.edu

Chancellor Bruce Leslie said the district is working with a consortium of universities to pursue bachelor programs in accordance with Senate Bill 2118, which allows Texas community colleges to offer bachelor degrees in science, during the special board meeting and budget retreat July 18 at Killen Center.

In an interview with The Ranger after the budget retreat, President Robert Vela said he is interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing and American Sign Language at this college.

The bill allows a community college to offer three bachelor degrees, but Vela is unsure if each Alamo College will be allowed three bachelor degree programs or if it will be limited to the district.

Vela said this college would only pursue the nursing degree program if the district was limited to three bachelor programs.

During the retreat, Vela said the University of Texas Health has cut its nursing programs, meaning this college would not be in direct competition with the university.

Vela said the cuts in the nursing program at the University of Texas Health has led to an influx of nursing instructors, and the college plans to hire three new nursing instructors with doctorate degrees.

This college’s Fiscal Year 2018 expense budget is down $4 million from Fiscal Year 2017; Vela said the college will stop “backfilling” positions that aren’t critical, saying nursing instructors and certified advisers are critical.

In an interview with The Ranger July 19, a representative at the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee said she believes the district would be limited to three bachelor programs.

The representative said there are three Texas community colleges offering bachelor degrees, but they are limited to five programs at the district level.

Kelly Carper Polden, media spokesperson for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, said the coordinating board has historically applied criteria based on accreditation, saying each college would be allowed three bachelor degree programs if each college is individually accredited.

In an email to The Ranger July 19, Carper Polden said the coordinating board may not use accreditation to determine bachelor degree program limitations because the rules are still being determined.

Carper Polden said a team with the coordinating board is still reviewing the legislation and will present it to the board by early spring next year.

Vela said it would be one and a half to two years before bachelor degrees were offered at this college.

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