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Kevin G. Walthers: A new year — and new degrees
Guest Commentary

Kevin G. Walthers: A new year — and new degrees

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Dr. Kevin Walthers

Dr. Kevin Walthers

Few places in California have less access to affordable four-year degree options than northern Santa Barbara County. Only four of the state’s 115 community colleges are further from a traditional, non-polytechnic California State University campus than Allan Hancock College.

For too many of our students, our region’s distance from a CSU campus essentially places the next step in their educational journey out of reach.

Local advocacy groups have been working on this issue for years. Spurred by the leadership of the Economic Alliance of Northern Santa Barbara County, the pursuit of bachelor-level degrees is now a community priority. The goal of offering four-year degrees is reflected in the city of Santa Maria’s strategic goals, and the Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees made this an institutional priority.

This spring will mark a significant first step toward realizing our shared goal. Through a partnership with the University of La Verne, members of our community will now have access to high-quality, affordable bachelor’s degrees offered on the Hancock College campus.

The University of La Verne has a long-standing presence in our community through Vandenberg Air Force Base, but this new partnership will make university programs available to a more far reaching population.

The University of La Verne is currently creating cohorts for degrees in business administration, organizational management, and/or public administration, depending on student interest and actual registration. The degrees are offered and fully managed by the university, Hancock’s role is to provide our community with a gateway to these life-changing programs.

For those holding an associate’s degree, the program to complete a bachelor’s degree may be as short as 18 months. Moreover, for those holding a Hancock degree and those with enough Hancock credits, the University of La Verne is offering scholarships that reduce tuition by almost 50 percent.

Classes start in March, but registration is already under way. Information sessions are scheduled for Jan. 16, 17, 30, and 31 at 5 p.m. in the Student Services Building on the Santa Maria campus.

We know an investment in higher education is key to our economic future. Increases in educational attainment correlate with substantial increases in earnings, civic participation, and better health. We are pleased to partner with local governments, civic organizations, and the University of La Verne to provide viable and affordable education for our community.

Kevin G. Walthers is superintendent/president of Allan Hancock College. For more information on degree programs at the University of Laverne, go to www.laverne.edu/locations/vafb/allan-hancock-college, or call Fred Griscavage at 805-986-6902.

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