|Universities Offer More Collaboration with Colleges|
June 9, 2010/Gongwer News
The state's public universities have offered to work even more with its community colleges to bring baccalaureate degrees to more communities, but the colleges said the offer does not go far enough.
In a letter to legislators dated Tuesday, the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan pledged to expand the relationships between the universities and community colleges, as long as that work was not mandated. But community college officials said the pledge is not enough.
"This pledge by the public universities avoids duplication and waste, can be implemented immediately, and is far less costly - which is exactly what our elected officials have been asking from public agencies at all levels," the letter said. "Legislation is unnecessary, as the universities and community colleges have a long history of crafting and implementing collaborative programs."
In particular, the universities pledged to offer bachelor's degrees in nursing for any graduate of a community college registered nursing program.
But Mike Hansen, executive director of the Michigan Community College Association, said the collaboration between the institutions has so far not been enough to ensure needed programs at all community colleges.
He noted that Alpena Community College has tried working with several universities to bring baccalaureate programs to its campus, but those agreements have all either ended quickly or not included the programs students requested.
Of the nursing programs, Mr. Hansen said the universities would be hard pressed to expand those program. "It's harder to get them to provide nursing and some of the high demand fields because they can't meet their own needs," he said.
Location of the colleges also makes creating the programs difficult, he said. "It's fine for presidents to commit to going anywhere," he said. "But it's not so easy to get faculty."
In many cases, the universities simply hire the community college faculty to teach the courses, he said.
Mike Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council, said the letter is a new commitment to make programs work where they have not in the past.
"We will operationalize this. We will make this work. That's our pledge," he said. "If it needs to be monitored, that's fine."
Mr. Boulus acknowledged that could mean hiring faculty in some programs, but could also mean using interactive technology to offer courses.
The key, he said, is the universities are better equipped than the colleges to ensure the programs meet required standards. "It's a different type of faculty, a different type of infrastructure," he said.