CVTC Seeking Liberal Arts Associate Degree

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There were 7300 people that applied to attend UW-Eau Claire last fall. Only two thousand were accepted.

Some of those who were rejected sought out the two-year programs at Chippewa Valley Technical College instead, but the degree isn't the same as it would be at a two year UW school.

Now, area legislators are working on a proposal that would allow CVTC to offer an associate of liberal arts degree, similar to current programs in Madison and Milwaukee technical colleges.

With only 23 percent of people holding four-year degrees, Wisconsin doesn't match up with neighboring Minnesota, who has 32 percent.

That figure motivated assemblyman Jeff Wood to author a bill allowing CVTC to give associate liberal arts degrees, a move he says will make getting a bachelor's degree easier.

"This is a way we can boost the education level in our workforce without adding new taxpayer resources," says Wood.

While a number of students do transfer to a four year college from CVTC, the number of credits they receive for their work often don't add up. Area legislatures and school officials want their transition to be seamless.

"This will give students here the same opportunity as others around the state," says Rep. Terry Molton, R-Chippewa Falls.

"Officials estimate that 1800 CVTC students plan to continue on to a bachelor's degree. Right now, the school can only offer 30 credits, half the needed amount, to put students at sophomore status. It wouldn't change the mission of the technical college, since the bill would allow a maximum of 25 percent of classes to be for liberal arts.

"They're the only ones that are losing at the present time because we don't have enough courses to allow them to transfer directly to a third year status," says CVTC President Bill Ihlenfeldt.

The curriculum would be based on programs currently in place at Nicholet, Milwaukee, and Madison Area Technical Colleges. If the bill is approved, Ihlenfeldt says the change could be made by January of 2006.