College of DuPage pushes for ability to offer bachelor’s degrees

The College of DuPage Board has unanimously approved a resolution in support of legislation that would allow Illinois community colleges to award bachelor of applied technology and bachelor of applied science degrees.

“I am very pleased to have the support of our board members who understand the vision of this college and the importance of being a leader in Illinois in the movement toward offering applied technical and science bachelor degrees,” said College of DuPage President Robert L. Breuder.

Earlier this year, Breuder made a pitch in Springfield to the Illinois Council of Community College Presidents and subsequently formed a study commission comprised of 14 other presidents. The commission, which Breuder chairs, is studying the baccalaureate movement nationally and will make a recommendation on how to proceed to the full Illinois Council of Community College Presidents in late summer or early fall.

In addition, both the Illinois Community College Trustees Association and Illinois Community College Board have been kept informed about the commission’s actions, Breuder said.

“There is a national movement toward community colleges offering select bachelor degrees, with 22 states already on board and two others on the precipice,” Breuder said. “On a more local level, data from a recent COD survey clearly demonstrated to us that District 502 residents would like to have the option of staying here at College of DuPage all four years.”

Breuder noted that offering specific applied technology and science degrees will in no way diminish the charter and mission of College of DuPage or any other community college.

“It’s exactly the opposite,” he said. “Providing four-year degrees will open more doors to our students who can then pursue higher-level careers after graduation. We are not trying to snatch away potential students from area colleges and universities. When this legislation passes, we will instead be filling in educational gaps left open by area institutions.”

Nearly 10 years ago, Florida was the first state to offer baccalaureate degrees, with Colorado recently becoming the 22nd state to implement this legislation. Eight years ago, reuder initiated a baccalaureate movement while serving as president of Harper College in Palatine. The bill passed the House but was defeated in the Senate by two votes.

“It is inevitable and a natural pathway for community colleges to offer students the baccalaureate experience in areas that other four-year schools are lacking,” Breuder said. “It will take some work, but it will happen.”

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