PCC plans to ramp up transfers

Pasadena City College wants to be known as the premiere transfer school in California, sending more students to four-year universities than any other community college in the state.

An educational master plan unveiled on Dec. 7 after being in the making for 18 months is aimed at guiding the local community college toward its goal.

"We really want to be No. 1 — the top community college in the state," said Pasadena City College President Mark Rocha, who took stepped into his job on July 1. "The metaphor I've used is that the master plan is a road map for how to move the college forward."

Dubbed "Project 90," the master plan coincides with PCC's 90th anniversary in 2014. The plan sets up four "signature goals" for the college to meet in the next four years: to become the premier transfer school, to guarantee enrollment for in-district high-school students, to create degree and certificate programs that address marketplace needs and to develop cutting-edge learning environments.

"We need to deliver the education our community needs. We need to deliver the courses that are going to help our students move on through the pipeline and get to their transfer school," said Geoff Baum, a board trustee and La Cañada's representative for the Pasadena Area Community College District.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges required PCC to develop a master plan after a 2007 accreditation review. It cost about $250,000 to create the master plan, roughly $18,000 of which came from La Cañada taxpayers, Baum said. The school enrolled 305 La Cañada Flintridge residents in the fall of 2009, the most recent date for which enrollment figures are available.

Formulating the plan was a school-wide effort, with hundreds of administrators, faculty, staff and students contributing to its development. Baum, who's worked for Pasadena City College for nine years, said the educational master plan is of high importance to the school.

"It's really going to be the guiding focus for our priorities going forward, especially in the state's continuing economic crisis," Baum said. "We need to focus our energies and resources around clearly defined objectives."

"We make it clear to the community what we're trying to achieve and let them know how they can score us and hold us accountable," Rocha said.

A score card is included in the master plan that allows people to see how many transfers the school hopes to send on to four-year universities, and how many associate degrees it is projecting will be awarded from 2010-11 to 2014-15.

Now that the plan is in place, the hard work starts, Rocha said.

"Pasadena City College was one of the great 20th-century community colleges and now we're in the 21st century," Rocha said. "In order to prepare students for the global economy in the 21st century, we're going to have to transform."

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