Cincinnati State hopes to offer 4-year degrees soon

Cincinnati State Community & Technical College will submit a proposal to the Ohio Department of Higher Education to offer four-year degrees within the next couple of months. Cincinnati State opened a Middletown campus in August 2012. NICK DAGGY/FILE

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Cincinnati State Community & Technical College will submit a proposal to the Ohio Department of Higher Education to offer four-year degrees within the next couple of months. Cincinnati State opened a Middletown campus in August 2012. NICK DAGGY/FILE

Cincinnati State Technical & Community College has a draft proposal on implementing a four-year degree program officials have been sitting on until the day Ohio permitted it.

This past Friday, Ohio permitted it when Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed on Friday his last 2-year biennium budget into law. A provision in the state budget permits community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees.

MORE: Community colleges can now offer bachelor’s degrees

Cincinnati State President Monica Posey said they’ll submit a formal proposal to the Ohio Department of Higher Education within the next couple of months, but she’s pleased the state is now giving two-year colleges the advantage of offering applied bachelor degrees.

“It reaffirms we are innovating and moving forward,” said Posey, “that the state is committed to addressing the needs of employers and also providing more opportunities for students.”

Posey has been a outspoken supporter in the four-year degree initiative over the past few years. She talked in 2014 with the Journal-News about wanting Cincinnati State to be at the forefront of the four-year-degree trend.

RELATED: 7 questions with Cincinnati State President Monica Posey

It's been two years in the making for Ohio community colleges to be able to offer bachelor's degrees, but the issue didn't gain enough traction until this past summer. Ohio is now the 24th state to allow community colleges the ability to offer four-year degrees. California was the last state to make the change in 2014.

The chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education will be able to approve a four-year degree at a community college if the school is able to demonstrate a workforce need or a growing long-term need, so long as that degree is not already offered at a same. The chancellor can also approve a program if it “clearly demonstrates a unique approach,” according to the bill.

“Our employers have been tremendously supportive,” Posey said. Two degrees they’ll push for first include for land surveying, which she said a bachelor’s degree is required for licensures, and its food science program. The school is known for his culinary arts program in the region.

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However, there’s not universal support for the decision to allow two-year colleges to start offering four-year degrees. The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio, whose members include private colleges such as the University of Dayton and Wittenberg University, criticized the policy change.

AICUO president C. Todd Jones said the policy is too broad and may end up causing programs to overlap with offerings at universities, something Sinclair officials insisted is not the case.

“I think they’re setting up the state for failure in the long run,” Jones said. “We think it encourages community colleges to change who they are.”

Posey said the school will build on what it does best, and not compete with the school’s higher education partners.

“We will offer proposals for degrees that are not offered in this area, that is not readily available in this region,” she said. That includes conversations with employers that hire Cincinnati State graduates and education partners, such as the University of Cincinnati, so the community college can “add to educational opportunities, not compete.”

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