WLAC degree proposal heads to state chancellor

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An application by West Los Angeles College to offer a bachelor’s degree level program for dental hygiene is one its way to the desk of State of California Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris.

Legislation passed last year by the state Legislature allows up to 15 community college districts to create pilot programs at baccalaureate degrees in specialized fields of study that are not offered at University of California or California State University schools.

West Los Angeles officials have submitted an application to become eligible to offer a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, one of the school’s best known programs. Last month the college’s representatives received notice that the Los Angeles Community College District had selected their application and were sending it to the chancellor’s office for consideration.

“It’s an honor to be considered. It positively reflects how highly they think of our dental hygiene program,” said Michelle Long-Coffee, a spokeswoman for the college.

Long-Coffee said West Los Angeles’s dental hygiene students are required to have 120 units for graduation with an associate’s degree, almost the same number of credits needed for a bachelor’s degree.

Senate Bill 850, sponsored by state Sen. Martin Block (D-San Diego) directs the state Community Colleges Board of Governors to develop a process for selecting each district.

“SB850 is a game-changer for California students,” Block said. “Students now have another door that can lead to a quality, affordable four-year degree. It tells employers that California is doing all that it can to ensure that our state is open for business and will stay open to employers looking for highly-trained employees.”

Colleges that are eventually selected can begin offering bachelor’s degree level programs beginning next year.

“The districts’ strong interest in building baccalaureate degree programs is heartening,” added Harris. “They are pioneering a new mission for California Community Colleges and opening up pathways for Californians who may not have had a chance to earn a four-year degree. I look forward to working with the districts to create world-class that graduate highly trained and marketable students.”

The state community college board is expected to make its final decisions on Jan. 21, 2015.

WLAC degree proposal heads to state chancellor