SFCC Approved to Offer Baccalaureate Degree
Residents of DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties may not have to travel far to continue their education and earn a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management (BAS-SM) degree. On Sept. 20, South Florida Community College (SFCC) was approved by the Florida State Board of Education (SBOE) to offer baccalaureate degrees. The BAS-SM is the first baccalaureate degree that SFCC plans to offer, creating a continuing educational and professional pathway for students in associate degree programs.
“The BAS-SM is a broad-based degree that brings additional career skills to a number of our students who have completed workforce degrees, such as business administration, accounting, computer science, criminal justice, applied health, and nursing,” said Dr. Leana Revell, SFCC vice president for educational and student services.
“Having the ability to offer a baccalaureate degree will bring new opportunities that we’ve not been able to provide in the past,” said Dr. Revell. “It will allow our students to stay within their communities and go on with their baccalaureate degrees. Because of convenience and affordability, we think this is a great addition for our students.”
“This is a significant milestone for SFCC,” said Dr. Norm Stephens, president, SFCC. “I credit the faculty and staff who worked so hard over the last couple of years to prepare our proposal to the Florida State Board of Education. It is our intention to make this new offering of the highest quality. However, there’s a great deal of work yet to be done.”
Now that SFCC has garnered approval from the SBOE, SFCC will seek accreditation of its first baccalaureate degree. At the end of September, the college will lodge an Application for Level Change with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). SACS is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the southern United States. SFCC may receive permission from SACS as soon as December 2011 to go into candidacy to offer baccalaureate degrees.
With candidacy status in hand, SFCC will begin its BAS-SM program in Fall Term 2012 and become one of 20 colleges within the Florida College System to offer baccalaureate degrees. They are Broward College, Chipola College, College of Central Florida, Daytona State College, Edison State College, Florida Gateway College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Gulf Coast State College, Indian River State College, Miami Dade College, Northwest Florida State College, Palm Beach State College, Pensacola State College, Polk State College, Santa Fe College, Seminole State College, St. John’s River State College, St. Petersburg College, State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota, and Valencia College.
“The BAS-SM degree will provide students in SFCC’s service district of DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties with educational opportunities and the ability to increase their job skills and marketability within these communities,” said Dr. Revell.
Major employers in the college’s service district are involved in public service, health care, business, and retail. “Local employers tell us that they are looking for workers who have a liberal education, can think critically, have people skills, can supervise staff, and can manage aspects of a business. They want employees who have the job skills that can work effectively for them. We believe this degree will off a lot of those components.”
“I’m particularly pleased that we will be able to bring this baccalaureate degree program to the students of our district at significant cost savings,” said Glenn Little, vice president for administrative services. “It is equally important that our area businesses will be able to expand due to a more qualified workforce. This degree program will also provide opportunities for new business development throughout our district, which should lead to significant economic growth for our rural area.”
“Within the district, we have a need for more baccalaureate degrees,” said Dr. Revell. “Only 8-14 percent of the population in these counties has earned a bachelor’s degree, well below the state and national average.”
“Within the next five years, about 300 positions will be available in our district that will require a bachelor’s degree. That number will be 55,000 throughout Florida, and 83,000 nationwide. Although the number for the district doesn’t appear large, the BAS-SM will garner a student all kinds of job skills that can be used in several parts of the state and country, not just locally.”
Although SFCC currently partners with eight four-year institutions to offer bachelor’s and selected master’s degrees, a baccalaureate program native to the college has its benefits. “For SFCC, this will be an opportunity to begin moving into the baccalaureate realm,” said Dr. Revell. “For our students, it will decrease costs and provide consistent accessibility to the programs the college offers.”
“I’m especially honored to be an SFCC alumni serving as chair of the college’s board of trustees at a time when the college is taking such a big step forward in the advancement of educational opportunities for its communities,” said Tim Backer, chair, SFCC District Board of Trustees. “The entire board of trustees is truly excited about the baccalaureate program. I look forward to my continuing association with this great institution as we move forward with our new program.”
“Many SFCC students are interested and excited about being able to go into a baccalaureate program,” she said. “The BAS-SM is only the first baccalaureate degree that we will offer. We will have more in the future.”
“Although we’re extending our degree offering to include baccalaureate degrees, we will continue to offer a variety of associate degrees and workforce certificates as we have in the past,” said Dr. Stephens. “Our goal is to be responsive to the people in our college district.”