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FRC’s new degree program draws objections from some in the state university system

Feather River College celebrated when its application to offer a second bachelor’s degree — this one in Ecosystem Restoration and Applied Fire Management was accepted, but not everyone was happy. The interim chancellor of the California State University system, Jolene Koester, objected.

The ability of community colleges to offer bachelor’s degree programs is predicated on the stipulation that they don’t duplicate degrees offered by state universities.  It was argued that FRC’s new degree duplicated one soon to be offered by Cal Poly Humboldt.

There is also the larger issue of community colleges usurping enrollment from state universities by offering bachelor’s programs at all. The result is that 14 applications for community college bachelor’s programs are on hold and the state legislature is becoming involved. The news organization CalMatters published a comprehensive article on FRC’s new degree program debate, as well as the issue in general this week. It can be read here.

FRC President Dr. Kevin Trutna said that degree program received support from not only Cal Fire, the Forest Service, Resource Conservation District, students and staff, but CSU professors themselves.

As for competing with Cal Poly Humboldt, Trutna said that the two entities tried to work together, but because they are geographically so separated and address different ecosystems, they couldn’t reach common ground.

“Cal Fire needs 7,000 new employees by 2025,” Trutna said. He said it doesn’t make sense to limit the number of students who would be able to learn about applied fire management. Classes will be offered beginning in 2024 for the new bachelor’s program at FRC.

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