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Olympic College wins in Olympia

Senate supports more four-year programs.

Although the Senate’s proposed operating budget for 2009-11 includes cuts to many areas of state government, it does include an important gain for the Kitsap and Olympic peninsula region: the beginnings of state supported upper division, baccalaureate degree granting programs.

“This region has a clear need for more baccalaureate production as a means of providing more opportunities for students and employers,” said Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor), chair of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee. “At a time when a recession and declining revenues are forcing budget cuts, I’m encouraged by anything we can do to plant the seeds of future education and economic growth in our region.”

The operating budget proposed Tuesday by the Senate directs the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board to facilitate development of university centers by allocating 30 full-time enrollment equivalencies to Olympic College, which will use the allocation to establish a partnership with a baccalaureate university for delivery of upper division degree programs in the Kitsap region.

Last year, Kilmer and other members of the Kitsap legislative delegation secured funding in the budget for the Higher Education Coordinating Board to develop a plan for expanding baccalaureate opportunities on the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas. That study proposed the creation of two higher education centers — in the Olympic College region and the Peninsula College region — to provide baccalaureate opportunities in partnership with existing four-year universities. It has been estimated that bringing baccalaureate expertise from existing four-year institutions into existing community colleges could provide expanded higher educational opportunities at half the cost of a similar off-campus facility.

“This will open doors for the students and employers of our region,” Kilmer said. “This is a commitment that will help brighten the prospects for our economic future.”

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