COS searches for giant funds for new campus University Center

Friends of College of the Sequoias’ Measure C funding could bring a new university center to the Visalia campus, providing locals with more degree options closer to home

VISALIA – Friends of College of the Sequoias has started a campaign in hopes of receiving $95 million in Measure C funds to expand the college’s partnership with four-year universities and give students more degree opportunities.

A sponsor for College of the Sequoias (COS), Friends of College of the Sequoias, launched a campaign for a general obligation bond, Measure C, to fund a new University Center on COS’ campus, allowing more local residents to stay in the county while expanding their education. Measure C will be placed on the November 2022 general election ballot and needs approval from 55% of voters. If passed, Measure C would provide the college with $95 million of funding, which the college could use to expand their partnership and host additional universities.

With the $95 million bond, COS is hoping to fund the University Center to be built on the southeast corner of the Visalia campus. Friends of COS are asking the public to spend $13 on property taxes each year per $100,000 of assessed value. This would allow COS to pursue more partnerships with four-year universities in addition to their current partnership with Fresno State University. The center would provide students with more opportunities to earn bachelor and master degrees from other four-years universities closer to home and enter the local workforce.

COS President Brent Calvin said the partnership between COS and Fresno State has demonstrated a great demand for local access to degrees obtained at four-year universities.

“To remain competitive moving forward, it is important for us as a region to meet this demand,” Calvin said. “While College of the Sequoias is taking the lead, this really is a region-wide issue we are addressing.”

According to a press release from COS, the University Center could help students with two-year degrees from community colleges who would prefer to stay in the region as they earn a bachelor’s degree. This can reduce the cost of earning a degree at a four-year facility by at least 50%. Benefits, community-wise, include providing local employers, medical facilities, school districts and private businesses with educated workforces. It also enhances local career opportunities and makes Tulare County an attractive destination for businesses to relocate to by increasing the number of county residents with bachelor’s degrees.

Tulare County is the second largest county of 58 counties in the state without a public, four-year university, with San Mateo County being the largest. According to the American Community Data survey released in 2020, Tulare County ranks as the second lowest region in the state for bachelor degree attainment of individuals over 25 at 14.5%.

According to the press release, over 5,000 students from the South Valley currently attend Fresno State each year. The COS partnered with Fresno State in 2016 and together the two schools opened the Fresno State South Valley Campus on the southwest corner of campus, near Mooney Boulevard and Tulare Avenue.

The south valley campus offers bachelor degree programs in business, education, nursing and criminology. They will also begin to offer a program for ag business in the fall of 2023. Additionally, the campus offers two master degree programs in Public Administration and Multilingual and Multicultural Education, but those programs are currently temporarily suspended due to the COVID pandemic.

COS currently offers 33 types of Associate Degrees for Transfer (ADT), which is a degree that guarantees priority admission to a four-year university for eligible students. This is the most ADTs offered by any community college in the Central Valley and the third most in the state. Since 2017, over 4,000 College of the Sequoias graduates have received an ADT.

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