In a special meeting on Aug. 28, the Wyoming Community College Commission unanimously approved a motion "to authorize Laramie County Community College to begin the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) substantive change process to offer no more than two applied baccalaureate programs."
LCCC submitted the request to begin the approval process for two Bachelor of Applied Science degrees:
- Applied Management
- Healthcare Administration
The opportunity for LCCC to offer applied bachelor's degrees began with approval by the Wyoming Legislature during the 2019 session. A resolution passed by the LCCC Board of Trustees allowed the college to move forward with seeking authorization to begin the approval processes. The recent WCCC meeting authorized LCCC to continue with the approval process through HLC.
HLC is the entity that oversees and authorizes regional accreditation for the seven Wyoming community colleges.
Next, LCCC must receive specific program approval for its degrees from its curriculum committee, its trustees, the WCCC and the HLC. The college expects a site visit from the HLC this December to assess its readiness to offer these programs. According to the WCCC, it is anticipated that HLC would make a decision sometime in early 2020 whether to approve the programs or not and, if approved, LCCC would start classes in the fall semester of 2020.
According to a LCCC President Dr. Joe Schaffer, the BAS degree will be designed specifically for students who already have an Associate of Applied Science or comparable credentials in a technical field. The degree requires the practical skills and knowledge for advancement by building upon vocational foundations and work experience.
In a presentation to the WCCC, Schaffer said: "The need to raise educational attainment of individuals in LCCC's service area—specifically at the bachelor's degree level—is well-documented and well-supported. Doing so will be essential for the region's and the state's future economic and social prosperity. While these programs are not the 'silver bullet,' they are a positive step forward and will provide a pathway to a bachelor's degree for many individuals who do not have access but want to further their education."
Generally more career-oriented with less focus less on the general education requirements, these programs emphasize applied knowledge rather than theory and are intended to allow students to complete coursework quickly by utilizing previously completed vocational and technical education or training.
"These degrees will serve as a pathway for our students to obtain an advanced degree, providing them with many more career opportunities," Jeff Shmidl, interim program director for business and finance at LCCC, said. "It's exciting to see how the whole campus has engaged in this initiative to ensure these programs are of high quality as they meet the academic needs and expectations of a baccalaureate student."
Central Wyoming College also received approval to begin the process of offering these degrees.
Information presented at the August 28 Commission meeting can be found at https://communitycolleges.wy.edu/about-us/commission-meetings/.