Community college presidents want to award four-year degrees
Community college presidents across Illinois say they'd like to offer bachelor's degrees, a request Harper College pursued without success in previous years.
The Illinois Council of Community College Presidents says lawmakers should let them grant the four-year degrees in high-demand career areas like nursing that could help working people who can't get away to university classes that often cost more.
"For most of them, going somewhere else is just a non-starter," said Ken Ender, president of Harper College in Palatine.
Harper was unable to convince lawmakers to let the college offer four-year degrees when it made its push under its previous president, Robert Breuder, now the outgoing president of College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.
COD's board approved a resolution calling for the four-year degrees last summer.
"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 at the time.
University leaders are likely to push back, and the political fallout over the $763,000 severance recently awarded Breuder could play a role, too.
A spokesman for Northern Illinois University didn't immediately return a request for comment.
College of Lake County has a partnership with the University Center of Lake County, an institution that allows universities from as far away as Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to offer classes on its Grayslake campus.
College of Lake County spokeswoman Evelyn Schiele said "it's way too early to discuss how the proposal would affect us."
Should College of Lake County decide to offer bachelor's degree programs, Schiele says representatives would talk with counterparts at the University Center to decide on the best approach for both schools.
"With the growing demand for students to get additional education, a lot of our students are place bound, and giving them options is important," Schiele said.
Elgin Community College President David Sam says the school is still exploring the issue.
"We have a long way to go," Sam said. "Our board will discuss the option and may weigh in."
Sam said the option would most likely apply to the college's selective programs including nursing, dental and automotive.