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OC applies for B.S. degree in nursing, exploring other bachelor’s degree options

Amidst rumors in the community that Olympic College is heading down the baccalaureate path, the institution’s Board of Trustees met with president David Mitchell last weekend to discuss if and how OC would step beyond its associate’s degree status.

Mitchell presented four options that OC could pursue in offering baccalaureate degrees to local students and the trustees leaned toward the University Center (UC) model as the most lucrative one. For now, though, they agreed to partner with community leaders and request funds from the state legislature for a feasibility study to explore the UC model and the branch of an existing university model.

Under the UC model, dubbed 2-plus-2, students would obtain their two-year associate degree at OC. Then they would continue for two more years with their bachelor’s degree studies on OC’s campus, but in a combination of distance learning classes and classes taught by a four-year university’s faculty.

Comparing the UC approach to introducing a full-blown branch of an existing university — in the form of University of Washington’s Tacoma satellite — OC trustee Naomi Kuniyuki Pursel favored the former.

“It is a lot more easily achieved in a reasonable timeframe,” she said.

The UC emerged as the favored model because it would allow OC to keep control over the associate’s degree programs offered on the Peninsula. If a branch of an existing university were invited to the area, Mitchell said, that university would eventually want to offer lower division degrees and thus encroach on OC’s class loads.

He added, however, that he supported such a move by four-year universities’ branches, now allowed thanks to legislation passed in the last legislative session, because that would open up choices for local students.

“Our overall mission is to provide this service, not just defend Olympic College,” said trustee Peter Crane.

If it is better for the community to have a four-year university, then so be it, he added, but it is better to have that four-year school involved with OC.

Mitchell said because of the proximity of UW-Tacoma, it is unlikely Kitsap County will be the host of yet another state four-year institution branch.

The trouble with pursuing the UC model is that Western Washington University, The Evergreen State College and Washington State University, the schools Mitchell has approached with the idea of a partnership, have not returned the interest. He is still working WSU on possibilities of offering bachelor’s degrees in Kitsap.

“The University Center will require some strategy for legislative support,” Mitchell said.

The Board of Trustees agreed to continue exploring the need and possibilities for either a UC model or a branch model, but in the meantime, OC is already applying for state approval to offer a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

OC filed an application with the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges (SBCTC) in January. Two weeks ago it submitted a written reply to questions from SBCTC. The third part of the process, a presentation, is scheduled for Monday, March 6, in Olympia, before a SBCTC review committee.

SBCTC is reviewing six applications from community and technical colleges vying for four bachelor’s programs. The

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