The road to a bachelor’s degree is getting shorter for some Valley students thanks to a partnership between Fresno Pacific University and Reedley College.
FPU will begin offering classes leading to a B.A. in business through its degree completion (DC) program at Reedley College in January 2020. DC classes are a proven way to help adult students with some college credit finish their bachelor’s degree while balancing work and family commitments. Classes meet one evening a week and groups of students, known as cohorts, progress through the program together to provide mutual support.
Students may choose between emphases in business management or organizational leadership. Classes offer an accelerated curriculum and include an online component. Those interested should contact Airica Bellis, FPU outreach and admission representative, at 559-302-4117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also apply online at fresno.edu/apply, as well as complete their FAFSA financial aid form at studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa.
For the first semester, four classes will be offered at Reedley College at 995 North Reed Avenue, near Manning Avenue in the northwest section of the city of Reedley, which is Southeast of Fresno. By fall 2020, leaders hope for a full cohort and expansion as interest increases. “We would like to offer all School of Business degree completion cohort courses onsite at Reedley College in the future as the community begins to realize that FPU is bringing the degree to them,” said Katie Fleener, Ph.D., dean of the FPU School of Business. Sharon Starcher, D.B.A., FPU assistant professor of business, directs the Reedley College program.
Bringing the degree to students is an important part of the RC-FPU partnership since in California’s Central Valley transportation can be an issue for students in more rural communities. “While we understand that our Visalia campus is only about 30 minutes from RC, for some that is an insurmountable travel hurdle,” Fleener said. “We are serving the community well by being able to deliver bachelor-level education onsite at a community college.”
In all, FPU has five campuses—Merced, North Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield as well as the main campus in Southeast Fresno, which includes Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary—serving more than 4,000 traditional and adult students in a region where a comparatively low number of people have bachelor’s degrees, while many have attended community college. University President Joseph Jones, Ph.D., has made increasing relationships with community colleges a goal of his administration.
The RC-FPU partnership began with a discussion between Fleener and Jerry Buckley, Ed.D., president of Reedley College. “Dr. Buckley and I met at another community event during which he mentioned wanting to build stronger partnerships with the local private schools. FPU invited him to our campus and he reciprocated with an invitation to RC,” Fleener said.
Reedley College has been welcoming. “Dr. Starcher and I had the opportunity to visit several Reedley College classes, informing students, staff and faculty about this opportunity. The most exciting part was seeing the excitement on the faces of the students and staff,” Fleener said. “By working toward this partnership with RC, FPU is uniquely positioned to help some students achieve a much-desired goal.”
Students aren’t the only ones ready for the challenge. “Faculty who will be teaching these first classes are excited to be part of this new endeavor and are looking forward to connecting with students and the community,” Starcher added.
Programs like this also fit FPU’s goal to engage the cultures and serve the cities throughout the Central Valley. “What better way to transform a community than by providing improved access to education? By offering bachelor level coursework at Reedley College, we have removed a real hurdle for many community members. This opportunity is innovative, it’s responsive, it’s student focused,” Fleener said. “This is an exciting opportunity to serve communities that are at a greater distance from our regional campuses.”