Education · Visalia/Tulare

COS eyes its own moonshot: incubating a four-year university experience in Tulare Co.

Tulare County residents will have the opportunity in November to decide the fate of a $95 million bond measure to assist facilities and programs at College of the Sequoias in Visalia. 

Dubbed Measure C, voters could approve the bond issue with 55 percent of the vote to expand College of the Sequoias’s partnership opportunities with four-year universities. 

The main benefactor of the bond proceeds would be the construction of a University Center on the southeast corner of campus. 

The University Center would help students who already have two-year degrees and would like to stay in Tulare County to earn a bachelor’s degree. 

College of the Sequoias says the opportunities provided by the University Center could reduce the cost of a four-year degree by at least 50 percent. 

Currently, COS has a partnership with Fresno State via the Fresno State South Valley Campus that opened in 2016 in Visalia. 

That campus offers bachelor degree programs in business, education, nursing and criminology with agriculture business coming next year. Master degree programs are offered in public administration and multilingual and multicultural education. 

According to the impartial analysis provided by Tulare County, the highest annual tax rate levied by Measure C would be 1.3 cents per $100, and the estimate of the total debt would be upwards of $156 million. 

The submitted argument in favor of Measure C – which was written by College of Sequoias president Brent Calvin, Tulare County Office of Education Superintendent Tim Hire and others – noted that over 6,000 students leave Tulare County to pursue a four-year degree elsewhere. 

“Yes on C will bring a 4-year University Center to Tulare County to improve access to affordable, quality education and job training right here in our community,” the argument reads. 

Proponents also said that Measure C would help local nurses expand their education and training, provide local veterans with support to enter the civilian workforce and boost the local economy. 

In further arguments put out in favor of Measure C, proponents called back to the decision by the University of California to pass up Tulare County in favor of Merced. 

“A quarter century ago, local cities and the County of Tulare saw the future need for a 4-year university and competed hard to land a University of California (UC) campus. Despite those efforts, Merced was awarded the next campus. Consequently, our county remains one of the largest in the state without a publicly-funded 4-year university. This hurts our region and ultimately threatens the quality of life that residents enjoy here in Tulare County,” the argument reads. 

“The College of the Sequoias has long recognized this problem and five years ago began partnering with a large neighboring California State University (CSU) to offer 4-year degree programs in Visalia. The College spent $2M to prepare a South Valley campus for that CSU and then another $5M on the land necessary for expansion.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.