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April 12, 2005 > Extra credit - bachelor's degrees and doctorate's at Ohlone?

Extra credit - bachelor's degrees and doctorate's at Ohlone?

by Tony C. Yang

Ohlone College is one of the first colleges in the Bay Area to be a smoke-free campus. Ohlone is also one of the first to incorporate a high-tech Sorenson Video Relay System (an Internet videophone) for its deaf students and staff. If Ohlone's President, Doug Treadway has his way, Ohlone may also be one of the first community colleges in California to offer both bachelor and doctorate degrees.

In a speech to staff and faculty during a mid-semester forum on Mar. 31, Treadway discussed the possibility of expanding Ohlone's collaboration with Alliant University to include offering bachelor degrees. Citing Los Positas and Chabot's partnership with the University of Phoenix for various degree programs, Treadway was confident that Ohlone could compete on the same playing field.

"We can offer an enhanced 'blended environment' that [may] attract 800 to 1000 students," he said. "We are in a competitive situation." Treadway stressed that while Ohlone's enrollment has remained relatively stable, the district was not in a "high-growth area," and thus needed a "well thought out approach" to increase student enrollment and course offerings.

Treadway also said, "While this is not a commitment we have made per se, we are closely examining a partnership agreement with Alliant University." Alliant is currently changing its own education plan, and recently entered into a partnership with Miramar College in San Diego, which may be similar to the bachelor partnership proposal with Ohlone.

While not set in stone, both organizations are pursuing a memorandum of understanding in the short-term, working out transfer and academic credit guidelines. "We have made it a project to develop it," said Treadway. "And we are in preliminary discussions to expand our offerings."

Alliant University was recently rated number one in international students and third in overall diversity by "US News & World Report." Ohlone is a "quality learning environment" and a "wonderful college," said Treadway, but it "needs a higher profile." This sentiment is evidenced by recent Board of Trustees approval of the new Newark campus and a comprehensive main campus expansion plan. Enhancements include a new school logo and a new motto, "A world of cultures united in learning."

Changes are also being made at Alliant University.

According to Eric Gravenberg, Alliant's vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, a new educational focus (i.e. community colleges) poses this question; "How can [Ohlone] best take advantage of our unique offerings?"

He asserts that Ohlone College and Alliant University have a lot in common.

"Both of our [schools] seek to serve the underserved, have large international populations and are focused on meeting the needs of the community," Gravenberg said. "Alliant benefits Ohlone [with] a seamless process- and flexibility- having classes tailored to students, not the other way around." He said they have a diversity of classes, from technology to health sciences.

Gravenberg also said that a partnership between Alliant and Ohlone is a "tremendous opportunity" to go after alternative funding sources such as state or federal grants. But he agreed with Treadway that it is still in the "formative stages." He added that further curriculum analysis and course evaluations are still being conducted by both Alliant University and Ohlone College.

Barring any unforeseen problems, it is likely that Fremont will be one of its next campuses. In the end, Gravenberg explained that the ultimate goal is to become a useful part of the community. He added, "We want to be able to offer the courses that are most beneficial to students."

This spring term, Alliant initiated a pilot program offering a Doctor of Education degree (Ed.D.) on the Ohlone campus, offered only to qualifying faculty members. Fifteen Ohlone instructors are currently taking Alliant classes on campus for "professional advancement."

Treadway said, "These [classes] are convenient, and are offered at reduced cost." Within the three-year Ed.D. program, there are options in technology in learning, college administration and cross-cultural studies. As a result, another group of professors-turned-students may begin their doctoral coursework in the fall, if there is enough interest.

"I'm all in favor of it," said Ohlone journalism instructor Bill Parks. "I'm thinking of signing up." Regardless of the support, it is a first for Ohlone's faculty, and for Alliant's new programs in the Bay Area.

Alliant has campuses nationwide, including Fresno, Irvine, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco; it even has a branch in Mexico City, along with programs in Japan.

The proposed partnership with Alliant University will allow Ohlone College to join an elite group of community colleges offering advanced degrees while maintaining its focus on educational excellence and a bright future in the Tri-City community.

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