The members of the University of Colorado Board of Regents heard a proposal to add a Master of Criminal Justice to UCCS degree offerings and highlighted a community college transfer program Thursday.
Meeting at Berger Hall, the regents listened to Terry Schwartz, associate dean, School of Public Affairs, explain plans for UCCS to independently offer the MCJ. Since 1997, the degree has been offered through CU Denver with courses taught at UCCS by instructors supervised by Denver campus faculty.
The recent addition of resident criminal justice faculty at UCCS provides the opportunity to offer the master’s degree without additional costs, Schwartz said. In 2007, the School of Public Affairs began offering bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice.
“The time is now right to confer the MCJ degree from UCCS,” Schwartz said. “This would be consistent with all other degrees granted through the School of Public Affairs by UCCS and CU Denver.”
Schwartz said criminal justice studies are in high demand. The master’s program will balance theoretical study and practical examples to prepare students to administer the system as it currently exists and to evaluate, analyze and change the criminal justice system.
The presentation was part of an academic affairs committee report. A formal vote on the program is expected early next year.
Also as part of its meeting, the regents voiced support for a program announced earlier in the week that will guarantee admission for eligible community college students to any arts and sciences program at Boulder, Colorado Springs and Denver campuses.
Regent Stephen Ludwig, a 1993 UCCS graduate, led the effort to let community college transfer students know they are welcome at CU.
Ludwig told a reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette that helping community college students achieve bachelor’s degrees was both personal and an issue he felt important to the future of Colorado.
“I attended two community colleges before graduating from UCCS,” Ludwig said. “I know what it’s like to be intimidated by the admissions processes. I want every community college student to know that if they work hard, there is a place for them at CU.”
Ludwig also emphasized a data review that shows community college students graduate at rates similar to — or better — than students who begin at a CU campus.
CU Guaranteed takes effect with the spring 2011 semester. At news conference Tuesday in Denver, CU President Bruce D. Benson said the new practice will help increase the number of four-year degrees awarded in the state and improve efficiency by enabling transfer students to earn degrees more quickly than they would have in the past.
“This agreement will enhance our strong partnerships with Colorado’s community colleges and will allow thousands of transfer students to take advantage of programs at our research universities,” Benson said. “It will also help us meet state and national goals of increasing the number of individuals with college degrees, which is critical to our economic health and competitiveness.”
To qualify, students must have earned 30 semester hours of transferable course work – the first year of community college curriculum – with a grade-point average of at least 2.7. Most guaranteed admissions programs require the completion of an associate’s degree, typically 60 semester hours.
“When community college students are balancing the demands of work, family and school, they need a light at the end of the tunnel,” Ludwig said. “This program can be that light. I am thrilled about this.”
Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community Colleges System, said CU Guaranteed represents a “tremendous opportunity” for the 135,000 students attending the system’s 13 community colleges. She noted that 44 percent of community college students intend to transfer at some point.
In 2009, students who transferred from two-year institutions in Colorado accounted for 6 percent of new undergraduates at CU-Boulder, 23 percent at UCCS and 21 percent at UC Denver.
“We are excited about this wonderful opportunity for CCCS students who have met the transfer benchmarks and elect to transfer to CU,” McCallin said. “I thank CU’s leadership for implementing the program.”
Kathleen Bollard, associate vice president and chief academic affairs officer, said the new policy will benefit community college students as well as CU.
“As a faculty member, I’ve found transfer students to be well-prepared, motivated and intellectually engaged, and I hope the new criteria will make it easier for more to choose to study at a CU campus,” she said.
– Jay Dedrick, CU System University Relations, and Tom Hutton, UCCS University Advancement