“[Traditionally] community colleges primarily serve to provide university transfer preparation, certificates, and degrees in career education programs,” said Dr. Jill Stearns, superintendent and president of Cuesta College.
But according to Stearns, the Central Coast community colleges are planning to head in a new direction, accomplished through a collaborative effort called UnitED Central Coast.
“Gov. Newsom set forth the roadmap for the future in 2022, which proposes the bold goal of 70 percent of adults having a college degree or certification by 2030,” Stearns said. “To achieve this, California must continue to expand workforce-focused baccalaureate degree programs in our community colleges.”
Launched on Oct. 5, UnitED Central Coast aims to share information that could help bring a four-year bachelor’s program to both Hancock and Cuesta that meets growing workforce needs.
The program also entails proposing the degrees to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors—a group of officials elected by community college administrations that regulates community college policy of those administrations. If the UnitED Central Coast plan is approved, Hancock and Cuesta could then begin to accommodate those new programs with increased staff and resources.
Stearns said it will take about a year to begin the process of implementation of these new programs once they’re approved by the Board of Governors—a process in itself that will also take around a year to achieve.
“There are now bachelor degrees [being offered] at community colleges in 25 states—including California,” Stearns said. “These degrees are designed to meet specific workforce needs of the local community and region.”