Governor Newsom Signed AB 927 – an Historic Decision for California Higher Education

To:       Community College Baccalaureate Supporters and Friends:

Dear Colleagues:

Chancellor Judy Miner and I are elated and pleased to share with you the good news that this afternoon Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 927 into law.  This is truly an historic decision that will set a bold, new direction in California’s system of public higher education.  Community colleges will now be able to develop and offer bachelor’s degrees in workforce fields.

A little bit about the rationale for this.  California now joins the other 24 states nationally that empower their community colleges to offer the baccalaureate, recognizing that the associate degree in a number of workforce fields is becoming or has become obsolete as employers and professional associations increasingly require bachelor’s-level training while, at the same time, public universities do not offer these programs.  Since workforce education is one of the top community college missions, filling this gap is both practical and appropriate within the existing mission.  Moreover, most community college students are “place-bound,” and are unable to leave their local communities to pursue educational opportunities elsewhere in the state or nationally.

In California, the community college baccalaureate pilot program involving 15 colleges has been massively successful, demonstrating the following:

The degree programs are accessible since they can be pursued at the local community colleges.

  • The degree programs are accessible since they can be pursued at the local community colleges.
  • The degree programs are affordable, costing only $10,560 for all four years of study.
  • The degree programs are high quality, taught by faculty who have advanced degrees and experience in the fields.
  • The degree programs provide work opportunities for graduates, over 85% of whom have obtained jobs in their fields of study.
  • The degree programs provide financial enhancement for students, with graduates receiving an average salary increase of $25,000. With many of these jobs paying in the $80,000 – $100,000 range, this is a doorway to the middle class.
  • The degree programs address demonstrated workforce needs in local communities.
  • The degree programs are fully accredited by the WASC Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), as well as by the professional associations in the various fields.
  • The degree programs do not duplicate any programs offered by the California State University (CSU) or University of California (UC).

Let me summarize exactly what AB 927 does:

  • The 15 pilot programs will now become permanent, with the “sunset” provision eliminated from legislation.
  • All of California’s 116 community colleges will be able to apply for bachelor’s degree programs, through a process to be developed by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office in two application periods of 15 proposals maximum, not to exceed 30 new baccalaureate programs each year.
  • A consultation process will be implemented to ensure good communication among the California Community Colleges, the CSU, and the UC, as well as information provided to the independent universities.
  • To ensure fidelity to the traditional community college mission, no more than 25% of any individual community college’s degree programs may be baccalaureate programs.

There is much more to be shared in the future about this remarkable development in California’s higher education future, but I would like to close this announcement by expressing heartfelt appreciation to everyone who made this today’s outcome possible.  Our coalition has been extraordinary and all of you who participated are part of our ultimate success.  Thank you to:

  • Our great champion, Assemblyman Jose Medina, whose bill, AB 927, has brought us to a successful outcome.  He deserves as many expressions of respect and gratitude as we can muster.
  • Former Senator Marty Block, who began this journey in 2013, culminating in state approval of SB 850, which established the baccalaureate pilot program in 2014.
  • Former Senator Jerry Hill, whose bills extended the life of the pilot program and who began the process of exploring expansion.
  • All of our supporters who provided in-person testimony at legislative hearings, as well as the board of trustees resolutions and the many, many letters from employers, students, faculty, and community organizations at every step in the legislative process.
  • The 15 pilot colleges whose faculty and administrators have provided excellent program models and compelling student data that assisted both the two Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) evaluative reports and continues to inform the baccalaureate effort.

In the months ahead, you will hear more from the CCC Chancellor’s Office regarding process and timelines.  You will also be hearing from our relatively new organization, the California Community College Baccalaureate Association (CCCBA), which will provide technical assistance, professional development, information, webinars, conferences, connections, and other support for colleges interested in developing baccalaureate programs. We will be providing support to the CCC Chancellor’s Office and we will be provide information about the lessons-learned by community college baccalaureate providers in other states via the national Community College Baccalaureate Association.  Information about the CCCBA officers and board members is attached.

Let me close by saying that this has been an emotional day for me personally.  Judy Miner and I are proud to have chaired this statewide advocacy effort, which has been at times a roller-coaster ride.  Along with most of you, we have all been on an important and difficult journey together fort the past 7 years.  However, our belief in what the community college baccalaureate can do for our students and local communities has been the impetus for our continuing effort.  And, guess what – We did it!

Dr. Constance M. Carroll
President & CEO