Wednesday, June 19, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / School Scene

The following article was posted on October 10th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 32 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 32

Hancock partners with private university to offer bachelor's degrees

By Kasey Bubnash

In a little more than three months, Santa Marians will be able to get four-year degrees at Allan Hancock College.

Representatives of Hancock and the University of La Verne met at Hancock's Santa Maria campus Oct. 8 to ratify a contract that will launch three bachelor's degrees on Hancock's campus. 

The degrees, in public administration, business administration, and organizational management, will be available at Hancock in January, and all current and former students who have completed at least two semesters at Hancock will be charged only half the usual cost of tuition. 

"So the cost at the University of La Verne will be the same as if you went to a Cal State school," Hancock President and Superintendent Kevin Walthers said at the event. 

La Verne typically charges $645 per unit, a price Walthers deemed unaffordable for the majority of Hancock's students. The half-off discount was an adjustment needed to make four-year degrees more accessible to Santa Marians, he said. 

"That was really key for us," Walthers told the Sun. 

Students will be able to enroll at both schools simultaneously. Flexible class schedules will accommodate working students, La Verne will provide face-to-face education in physical classrooms rather than online, and most students will need to take an additional 44 units from La Verne to earn a bachelor's degree.

The University of La Verne, a private nonprofit college with several regional campuses that serve roughly 8,000 students throughout Southern California, will handle enrollment, credit transfers, and staffing, Walthers said. Hancock's job is to provide space, and prepare students for upper-division classes. 

Allan Hancock College President and Superintendent Kevin Walthers (left) and University of La Verne Interim Dean of Regional and Online Programs Nelly Kazman (right) ratified a contract on Oct. 8 that will launch three bachelor’s degrees on Hancock’s campus.

If the first degree programs run smoothly, Walthers said he hopes to get bachelor's degrees in psychology and early childhood development up and running come next fall. 

Hancock and city leaders have been working to bring affordable four-year degrees to Santa Maria for years. The nearest non-polytechnic CSU is more than 100 miles away, and both UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly SLO are pricey, to say the least. 

In June 2016, the Santa Maria City Council made higher education a priority. Promoting and supporting the development of a "four-year university degree program" in Santa Maria was listed as one of the City Council's primary goals in the 2016-18 budget.

Hancock officials were simultaneously on a mission to offer four-year programs, and a partnership between the two entities blossomed over the shared goal.

Mayor Alice Patino, who attended the Oct. 8 contract ratification event alongside Councilmembers Etta Waterfield and Mike Cordero, said the city faced various struggles in attempts to bring public universities to Santa Maria. Funding and logistics were insurmountable barriers, and so Patino said the city and Hancock recently moved on to the private sector.

Hancock and La Verne officials met for the first time about three months ago and found their missions aligned perfectly. 

"We made it happen fast," Nelly Kazman, interim dean of regional and online programs at University of La Verne, told the Sun.

An agreement was signed a few weeks ago, she said, and within months, La Verne's regional campus in Ventura will be offering bachelor's degrees at Hancock. The goal, she said, is to provide affordable higher education opportunities that are still quality–not virtual. 

"There is something to be said for the face-to-face education," Kazman said at the event on Oct. 8, "and that is something La Verne does exceptionally well." 

Staff Writer Kasey Bubnash writes School Scene each week. Information can be sent to the Sun via mail, fax, or email at

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