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MEDIA ADVISORY

May 14, 2002

Contact: Bill Edmonds
Florida Board of Education
(850) 201-7130
bill.edmonds@flboe.org

Florida Board of Education takes steps to expand access to bachelor's degrees through K-20 cooperation

The Florida Board of Education on Tuesday, in a cooperative effort among universities and community colleges, adopted a plan to offer bachelor's degrees in selected disciplines on the campuses of Chipola Junior College, Edison Community College and Miami-Dade Community College.

The board also adopted objectives for its Strategic Plan and added a new strategic imperative of achieving world class, nationally recognized institutions of higher learning.

"Our state sees great gains whenever any of its citizens attains a college education, so I want to do everything possible to broaden access to a baccalaureate degree," said Education Secretary Jim Horne. "Today the Florida Board of Education, by encouraging collaboration among our community colleges and our universities, has thrown open the doors of opportunity to more Floridians."

Florida Board of Education Chairman Phil Handy said the cooperative plan on baccalaureate access illustrates what can be accomplished under the new seamless system of education. "Our K-20 system, with its seamless nature, provides the flexibility we need to find solutions that were not pursued in the past," he said.

"Our student-centered approach seeks to address the needs of all students, including non-traditional students and those who can't move to a university to continue their education," Handy said. "This initiative brings together resources and talents of both the universities and the community colleges to give students in rural areas and students place-bound by family or job ties the same opportunities for higher education that traditional students enjoy."

The board on Tuesday, acting upon recommendations by Secretary Horne, voted to:

  • Authorize Chipola Junior College to provide access to baccalaureate degrees in Business Administration, Nursing and Secondary Education through an articulation agreement with Florida State University. The agreement will be negotiated by Secretary Horne. If an acceptable agreement with a university cannot be worked out within 30 days, Chipola will be authorized to grant four-year degrees directly.

"I'm excited about the prospects of making this available to our students," said Chipola Junior College President Dale O'Daniel. "We have a large number of students who are place-bound and work-bound who cannot move beyond the two-year degree who have the desire and the ability. This will allow the opportunity and the avenue to do so."

  • Authorize Edison Community College to receive funding to support a partnership agreement between Edison Community College and Florida Gulf Coast University, provided an acceptable agreement for baccalaureate degree instruction is established and approved by the Secretary.

"I'm very pleased that the Board of Education has approved the Secretary's recommendation," said Edison Community College President Ken Walker. "This joint degree will enable us to serve the needs of students and employers which were identified in our survey and our proposal." President Walker said the degree will be made available to students at both campus and off-campus locations. "We're taking the degree to where the people are," he said.

"We're very pleased that the Florida Board of Education approved today's landmark partnership agreement between Florida Gulf Coast University and Edison Community College for AS to BS degree programs," said President Bill Merwin of Florida Gulf Coast University. "Our two institutions are deeply committed to providing a seamless educational path for students in Southwest Florida, despite the challenges found statewide in AS to BS articulation, and we believe our uniquely student-centered approach can become a model for the rest of the state."

  • Authorize Miami-Dade Community College to grant baccalaureate degrees in Exceptional Student Education and Secondary Education. College administrators may return to the board in the future with a new proposal for Elementary Education when unmet need is established.

"We are extremely pleased state officials recognize that Miami-Dade Community College is well positioned to help resolve the growing teacher shortage," said M-DCC President Eduardo Padron. "We have a proven system to provide accessible, affordable and high quality education to students. We have proposed a carefully structured program that will provide an effective curriculum and support services to ensure student success and provide quality future educators for Florida's children," Padron said.

"Today marks a real victory for higher education in the state of Florida," said Dr. Jose Vicente, president of M-DCC's InterAmerican campus, where the four-year degree program will be based. "We have just blown wide open the opportunities in education and teacher preparation by ensuring that these kinds of programs are available to students within a community college setting in addition to the traditional opportunities that exist in the university system."

Chairman Handy praised the quality of the proposals and the work of the Florida Board of Education. "This decision shows the promise of a K-20 system, where old obstacles and artificial boundaries are being knocked down for the benefit of all Floridians," Handy said. "Whenever we answer Florida's demands for higher education, we are making progress, and that's what we accomplished today."

In addition to making the decision on baccalaureate degree access, the Florida Board of Education continued progress on its Strategic Plan. The board adopted objectives for each of its strategic imperatives and set achieving world class, nationally ranked institutions of higher education through improving access, funding, performance and accountability as its eighth strategic imperative.

"This recognizes the many strengths and the deep potential of our institutions," said Secretary Horne. "Through this strategic imperative, we will build on these strengths and tap into this potential to reach world-class status."