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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arizona board of regents: Community colleges one step closer to BAs

    PHOENIX – The Arizona Board of Regents paved the way for Arizona community colleges to offer four-year degrees yesterday during its monthly meeting.

    The regents unanimously agreed to endorse two recommendations by the Joint Conference Committee, a committee comprised of leaders from 10 Arizona community colleges and administrators from major universities intent on strengthening undergraduate education in Arizona.

    The passage of the recommendations brings community colleges one step closer to offering four-year degrees.

    Similar recommendations were rejected by the regents in December. They had to be re-written by the committee to give the three major Arizona universities the opportunity to offer any new degrees before community colleges could.

    Regent Ernest CalderÇün, the co-chair of the committee, said the legislation was a start to bring four-year degrees to community colleges. One school, Eastern Arizona College, expressed an interest in offering four-year degrees, Calderon said.

    The regents also heard a brief overview of two bills in Legislature, one that offered an increase in the Arizona Financial Aid Trust and another that would help community colleges offer four-year degrees.

    Michael Hunter, a lobbyist for the board of regents, said Senate Bill 1133 would increase the current amount set aside for student grants in AFAT from 50 percent to 75 percent.

    Hunter said the bill passed the Senate Higher Education Committee earlier in the week and he would continue to lobby for passage of the bill.

    Hunter said a bill by Rep. Laura Knaperek (R-Tempe) sought to make changes to the law to allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees, but was not similar to the recommendations supported by the JCC. He said the board of regents should not support the legislation because the policy of the board of regents was to pursue the JCC agreement instead.

    Hunter said he would lobby against the bill, slated to be discussed next Tuesday by the House Universities, Community Colleges and Technology Committee, on behalf of ABOR.

    Regents also heard a side-by-side comparison of the dueling state budgets in the legislature. Regent Robert Bulla said there were vast differences between the budget supported by Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano and the Republican controlled Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

    “”Her budget offers a substantial increase to higher education,”” Bulla said. “”It’s almost 10 percent (more).””

    By contrast, the budget offered by the JLBC was nearly flat, offering a 1 percent increase in the budget from last year.

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