It’s time for BC to offer four-year degrees

Published 6:31 pm Friday, December 9, 2011

One of the huge assets of our community is the presence of Bainbridge College. The two-year institution, which offers two-year associate degrees and vocational training has been a vital institution for years.

There is no question that it is time for a major evaluation of the role of the college, allowing for the consideration of four-year college programs.

BC serves more than Bainbridge and Decatur County. It draws students from an 11-county southwest Georgia area, and hence, has an attraction to offer advanced degree programs.

It’s interesting that two-thirds of its academic students have goals to go on to a senior college to complete their studies. That figure alone should justify the need to consider four-year programs.

Our state and nation suffer from high unemployment, yet employers will tell you that many jobs go unfilled because there are not enough persons available with highly-trained technical skills. So, the future in education will be even more associated with community-workforce needs, or even national-workforce needs.

Highly-skilled students in highly-skilled classes taught by highly-skilled instructors will be the new, big emphasis now, since most manufacturing jobs have left the country.

High-tech is in.

Yet, we cannot forget the craft skills that will still be needed. And BC President Richard Carvajal has recognized that need also, in making the announcement of the new direction the college is considering.

We will always need the crafts people, those who can build our buildings, and do essential electrical, carpentry and plumbing crafts. In skilled hands, these jobs pay good wages. Hired a plumber lately? Check your charges. Not bad.

When Dr. Ed Mobley first assembled the beginnings of BC, he hired an outstanding faculty, which then gave the college its reputation for quality in, quality out. Dr. Mobley always favored keeping BC a two-year institution, fearing that offering four-year degrees would diminish academic excellence.

That philosophy held true for many years, but times change and needs change.

We must look at the needs of students—to have jobs available to them in the marketplace—and we need to offer jobs on the must-lists of business and industry.

American business and industry have allowed our jobs to all go out of the country. And that’s why our economy is in such a big fix today.

Jim Smith writes a weekly column for The Post-Searchlight. Comment on this or anything else you want to rant about by sending an email to: bainbooknook@yahoo.com.