Chattanooga State Community College is seeking permission of the Tennessee Board of Regents to establish five four-year technology degree programs.
President Dr. Jim Cantanzaro applied for the programs last July, asking that they be started in the fall of 2013.
However, no formal action has been taken thus far on the request and it is not on the agenda for the March TBR board meeting, which is a quarterly meeting.
Eva Lewis of Chattanooga State said after the college gets clearance for the programs it would still be at least a year before they would be launched because of approvals needed from an accreditation agency.
She said if the programs are approved, Chattanooga State would still be considered a two-year college "and we would not need a change of identity. Moving to a full four-year college program is not what this is about at all."
She said it is to fill a need often cited by local industry and also for former Chattanooga State students who need further tech training as well as current students who want further study.
The technology programs are for nuclear engineering, chemical process engineering, mechatronics engineering, radiological sciences and technology management.
Dr. Catanzaro, in a letter to the TBR, said students in the program would earn bachelor of applied science degrees.
He said the idea came from a specific request by TVA for baccalaureate-level technologists. Then there were similar requests from local industry, he said.
He said the interest is to fulfill those requests and "not to transition Chattanooga State into a four-year college."
Dr. Catanzaro said over 60 percent of the instruction would be "applied" and would happen in labs, clinical settings or in plants.
He said there is a high demand for such technologists.
Here is the letter from Dr. Cantanzaro:
Dear Chancellor Morgan:
I am hereby requesting approval for Chattanooga State Community College to introduce five Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree programs commencing fall 2013.
This initiative began in response to a specific request by TVA for baccalaureate level technologists. Subsequently, other industry partners have requested technical baccalaureate programs for their employees with associate of applied science degrees.
Our interest is to meet these specific industry needs. It is not to transition Chattanooga State into a four-year college. As a result, each degree program has been designed in partnership with college-affiliated Chattanooga area employers to meet their niche short-and long-term needs. Meeting
these needs is critical to their organizational development and therefore to area economic expansion. These are needs not currently addressed by a public university in Southeast Tennessee.
This request is fully in accord with, and responsive to the requirements and purpose of the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2011. If approved, these programs will lead to a substantial increase in STEM graduates in Southeast Tennessee.
Awarding applied baccalaureates is consistent with the institution's board-approved mission, founding mission, and long tradition as a leader in Tennessee in technical education.
This request is also consistent with the college's Carnegie classification since the programs collectively will produce less than 10% of all degrees awarded by the institution annually. This constraint will also block mission creep. No new baccalaureate program requests are anticipated or can be granted without mission change.
The five BAS degree programs will be, as the degree title suggests, applied - with over 60% of instruction occurring in-lab, in-plant and/or in clinical settings. These degree programs are applied, as well, because each program's core courses will be workplace specific. As a result, uniquely, each program will require full proficience and expect mastery of all units of every course within the major. (No "C" or "D" grades will be awarded.)
Students entering these baccalaureate programs will come primarily from the college's associate of applied science degree programs. They will extend their technological competency, thereby providing their employers technology workers with the highly-refined technical knowledge and skills of seasoned technologists.
BAS graduates are now in demand and will continue to be in demand because of anticipated corporate expansion and/or the retirement of senior technology workers over the next 15 years. Partner organizations desire to hire Tennesseeans for these positions. Currently, there is no source within the state for this level of technical professional.
Chattanooga State alone has the formal relationships with and the confidence of the organizations requesting these new baccalaureate programs, organizations which are the economic engines of the region. Current faculty members in each foundational A.A.S. program meet all accreditation requirements for baccalaureate instruction; and they all have substantial industry experience. The college has developed with the partner organizations rigorous, state-of-the-art curricula and industry-level assessments which meet and exceed TBR and SACS requirements, as well as those of specialized national accrediting bodies. These curricula and assessments will ensure that graduates have world-class competence in their professions.
Classrooms and labs for each program are among the finest in the nation. Each program has millions of dollars of state-of-technology equipment, virtually all the equipment and technology required for baccalaureate instruction. The college has years of know-how in technical education to ensure the highest quality programs, programs which meet the expectations of anticipated students who are A.A.S. degree holders, who live in greater Chattanooga, and who are, virtually to the person, adults with families in their mid 20s to early 40s, who must pursue further education in greater Chattanooga.
These baccalaureate programs will strengthen area business and industry. They will improve the college's ability to recruit students into STEM disciplines. They are urgently needed for the future welfare of the economy of the state of Tennessee.
Please see the enclosed five applied baccalaureate program proposals. I will be pleased to present in person to the Board of Regents and TBR staff the compelling case for each program. Corporate and community leaders stand ready to join me in explaining the merit and importance of these proposals.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Dr. James. L. Catanzaro