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Sandburg President Exploring Viability of Baccalaureate Degrees

WGIL Newsroom . Local News 302

Carl Sandburg CollegeCarl Sandburg College will be represented at a meeting of 10 community college presidents around Illinois next month.

The meeting is designed to explore the viability of offering four-year degrees in the state for technical programs.

During Thursday night’s Carl Sandburg College Board of Trustees meeting, College President Dr. Lori Sundberg said the group would be meeting at the College of DuPage.

Sundberg tells WGIL that many states across the country are already providing Bachelor’s degrees through community colleges.

“So what it would be, similar to what would be a Bachelor’s degree in nursing or a Bachelor’s degree in industrial technology, strictly just those technology areas, career tech areas, that the college currently offers associate degrees in,” says Sundberg. “It’s a study group, we’re going to look at the research and see if it makes any sense at all for Illinois.”

There is currently no timeline for offering Baccalaureate programs through the community college system.

Should those considerations lead to favorable results, legislation would first have to be introduced and approved at the state level.

“Really we just want to explore whether it would be a viable option for us or something that we should actually pursue long-term,” says Sundberg.

Part of the considerations stem from employer demands, locally; specifically in the field of nursing.

OSF St. Mary Medical Center was cited as an example. The hospital is committing to staffing 80-percent of their nursing department with Bachelor’s prepared healthcare providers. Sundberg tells WGIL that for the hospital, offering the degrees through the college would help them.

“I think we do a nice job now of getting our students, our graduates, to a four-year program for them, but this would really actually help, I think, a great deal,” says Sundberg.

The meeting with other colleges is mostly in line with past actions taken by Carl Sandburg College. The school has hosted meetings with representatives of local industry to better understand how to prepare their students for the workforce with more scheduled in the coming months.

Sundberg says the college has not, to this point, considered offering four-year degrees. She says that while future decisions are currently uncertain, she wanted Carl Sandburg College to be part of the statewide discussions.