Bill seeking four-year degrees at community colleges dies

CU opposed potential law, citing duplication of efforts, limited funding

A bill that would have allowed the state’s community colleges to begin offering a limited number of four-year degrees was defeated Monday in a narrow vote by the House Education Committee.

Senate Bill 165 — co-sponsored by Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, and Rep. Jim Wilson, R-Chaffee – sought permission for Colorado’s 13 community colleges to grant four-year degrees in up to seven fields of study, including dental hygiene. Proponents said accessibility and affordability were the driving factors.

The University of Colorado and other state colleges and universities opposed the legislation, saying that such a change would create redundancies across the higher education system at a time when state funding remains limited with little immediate prospects of growing.

In media reports, Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System, said the bill was designed to serve students and meet demand for four-year trade degrees.

The committee voted 7-6 to kill the bill.

CU President Bruce D. Benson was among the seven leaders of higher education institutions who asked the General Assembly that it not advance the legislation.

The idea could return next year; CU leaders have said they would like to work with community colleges to boost partnerships and pursue a more efficient way of achieving the goals of this year’s proposed legislation.

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