EDITORIAL: 'Concord 4-Year College'

  • October 22, 2007

CAL STATE EAST BAY would like to establish a four-year academic program at its Concord campus. But to do so, it needs the approval of leaders of the Contra Costa Community College District and the California Post Secondary Education Commission, which has the final say.

When local and state education officials review Cal State East Bay's request, they must put the interest of area students first. The effect of lower-division courses at the Concord campus on community college enrollment should come second.

Sometimes community college leaders who believe they will suffer a loss of students and the funding that goes with them, can prevent Cal State from expanding one of its branch campuses.

However, we think the Contra Costa Community College board is wiser than that. We think it will see the bigger picture and realize that, in fact, having a nearby four-year public institution here would enhance higher education in the county and could actually increase enrollment at the local community colleges.

The Concord campus merits four-year status. Contra Costa is the largest county in the state without its own four-year college. Students here who want to attend a four-year public institution have to go to San Francisco State or Hayward, where the main branch of Cal State East Bay is located.

That is an inconvenience and expensive for many students in Contra Costa County. Also, the Concord campus is underused and has room for more students.

Adding lower-division courses would be a significant attraction for students seeking bachelor's degrees. That is particularly true in nursing. Schools across the state are struggling to meet the growing demand for nursing programs.

The Concord campus now offers upper-division courses in nursing, but students have to go to Hayward or community colleges for lower-division classes. Frankly, that makes no sense.

We urge Contra Costa community college leaders to support Cal State's proposal to have a four-year institution in Concord.

We also ask the California Post Secondary Education Commission to approve the proposal even if it does not get the full backing of community college leaders.

In fact, the state Legislature should consider reforming state policy that allows community college officials to prevent Cal State from offering lower-division courses at branch campuses.

If serving students is foremost in the minds of college officials, there should be no opposition to Cal State East Bay, or any other Cal State University from offering four-year programs wherever they desire.

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