SCF Bachelor's Programs Key to Community Support

Higher Education

BY CAROL PROBSTFELD SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY FEB 18, 2017

The workforce baccalaureate degree programs at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, are a critical aspect of the college’s ability to support the economies in Manatee and Sarasota counties. The ability to offer bachelor’s degree programs gives SCF the ability to rapidly respond to local employment needs and create the workforce education programs that help recruit new employers to our region.

SCF offers Bachelor of Applied Science programs for Nursing, Early Childhood Education, Health Services Administration, Technology Management, Homeland Security, Public Safety Administration and International Business and Trade. These affordable online programs are designed for working adults place-bound by employment, family or economic circumstances. SCF’s workforce baccalaureate programs keep these individuals in our local area while they study and prepare for better employment opportunities in our region after they graduate. 

Our four-year programs were created in conjunction—not in competition—with our university system partners to address unmet educational needs for our region. We did not create these programs at the expense of SCF’s two-year or certificate programs, which will always be our greatest focus. Just under 6 degrees percent of our students are enrolled in baccalaureate programs. We will always commit a majority of our resources to our two-year and certificate programs.

The approval process for a bachelor’s degree program at SCF and the other members of the Florida College System is a robust and transparent process unique to the college system. We must prove there is a workforce education need in our community in a specific high-demand area that is not being met by other local institutions. The process includes a 90-day feedback period for the state’s public universities and private institutions to provide objections or counter proposals to the state college’s baccalaureate proposal. We must also respond to feedback and receive a positive recommendation from the state’s Division of Florida Colleges, and ultimately get approval from the State Board of Education. If done seamlessly and without objection, it typically takes more than a year to complete this process and offer a new program to our students.

Our bachelor’s degree programs respond to specific community needs. At SCF, the bulk of our upper division enrollment is in our nursing program—without question an area of local need. I do not view our baccalaureate programs as a replacement or substitution for our state’s very successful two-plus-two program with our universities. I will always seek a university partner to fill the need for a bachelor’s degree program in our region before trying to start a new one at SCF. Our entry into the University of South Florida FUSE program and the launch of Gator Engineering @ SCF in the fall of 2017 are great examples of how two-plus-two works effectively in our region.

Baccalaureate programs at SCF offer affordable opportunities for our community members to advance their skills and income levels without having to leave home, family or employment to earn their degrees. These programs allow the college to quickly respond to local employment needs and educate the workforce for our region’s future.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

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