Initiating a Baccalaureate
On Wednesday night, Jan. 26, the SFCC District Board of Trustees authorized the submission of a letter of intent to develop the Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Supervision and Management to be offered at South Florida Community College, beginning in the fall of 2012. This action initiates our formal application to the Division of Florida Colleges and the Florida State Board of Education. We also anticipate a name change for our college that would require approval of the Florida Legislature.
The Bachelor of Applied Science degree offered in the Florida College System is intended for those fields of study related to workforce development that could articulate with existing Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees while maintaining academic excellence, convenient access, and affordability for our students. As of today, 19 of the 28 colleges in the Florida College System have received approval to grant these baccalaureate degrees.
This new degree offering at SFCC would require a review and revision of our college mission. In addition to the obvious curriculum development, we will need to address faculty credentials, academic support services, library and learning resources, and student services appropriate for advanced academic programs of study. Furthermore, this significant addition to our college degree offerings will require a thoughtful campaign to inform our public of the new opportunities available at our college.
We intend to continue our strong partnership relationships with the University of South Florida and nine other public and private universities in offering baccalaureate and graduate degrees through our very successful University Center at the Highlands Campus of SFCC. We have chosen the Bachelors of Applied Science in Supervision and Management specifically because it would not duplicate successful programs offered through these articulation agreements.
Once approval is granted by the State Board of Education, we will need to prepare and submit a substantive change request to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Commission on Colleges (COC) that will allow for the transition from an associate degree granting institution (Level I) to a baccalaureate degree granting institution (Level II). The substantive change process will require a SACS visitation six to nine months after the program is under way and will entail a full review and affirmation of accreditation as a baccalaureate degree granting institution.
During the college strategic planning process in 2008 and 2009, a review of the need for baccalaureate and advanced degrees was identified as an important college priority. During the past few months, we engaged in an assessment process to ascertain the level of interest in additional baccalaureate degree programs for our college district.
Focus groups were held with students from SFCC dental, radiography, nursing, and business programs as well as the Student Government Association. These activities and our surveys demonstrated overwhelming support and interest in baccalaureate opportunities at our college. A significant majority of our students indicated interest in the B.A.S. in Supervision and Management. The three counties that comprise our service district are among the lowest in the state in the percentage of adults with baccalaureate degrees. It is obvious that greater access to advanced educational opportunities in DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties is critical to our economic development.
We were delighted to receive strong editorial endorsement from Highlands Today following our discussion during the board’s annual planning workshop in December. Additionally, area businesses and other organizations were contacted to determine their level of interest and support of baccalaureate programs at SFCC. These stakeholders expressed excitement and strong support for this new opportunity for our students and our communities. The overall community response has been exceptionally positive.
Additionally, we contacted representatives of all the higher educational institutions that serve our district to discuss this intention to initiate a B.A.S. degree program in Supervision and Management. The university representatives were supportive of our efforts to deliver additional baccalaureate programming within our district.
The proposed baccalaureate program would not require significant start-up costs. Much of the proposed coursework is didactic in nature and would not entail the acquisition of expensive or specialized equipment. Existing facilities and our current technology platforms will more than adequately support traditional, blended, and online instructional methodologies. Our outstanding and highly qualified faculty is capable of delivering a significant portion of the new instructional program; however, it is likely that additional faculty would be needed to provide academic leadership, and the advanced academic scholarship associated with the field of supervision and management.
There is great enthusiasm among our students, faculty, and staff for this new and challenging baccalaureate initiative for our college.