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Facilities Review

The Conversion of an Educational Center to a University or Community College Campus

Educational centers generally offer a limited complement of academic programs that serve the needs of a community. Many student services, such as outreach efforts, disability support services, counseling, etc., are not fully supported. At lower enrollment levels, there are usually too few students to generate enough demand for these services. As enrollment levels increase, however, demand for support services and expanded academic programs also increase. The conversion of an educational center to a university or community college campus usually occurs at a point in time in which there is sufficient demand to justify the expansion of educational and support services, and enrollments are adequate to support the costs of a freestanding administration.

The process for each public higher education system to convert an educational center to a university or community college campus is as follows:

Preliminary Notice

At such time as a public higher education system, including a community college district, begins a planning process to establish a new community college or university campus, the governing board of the system or district shall forward to the Commission a Preliminary Notice of the planning activities. This Preliminary Notice shall indicate:
  • The general location of the proposed new institution,
  • The type of institution under consideration and the estimated timeframe for its development,
  • The estimated enrollment of the institution at its opening and within five years of operation,
  • A tentative five-year capital outlay plan, and
  • A copy of the agenda item wherein the new site is discussed by the local district (California Community College) or statewide governing board (University of California or California State University), if any.
  • A Preliminary Notice represents an informational process, and does not require formal consideration or approval by the Commission.

Letter of Intent

University of California or State University:

Not less than three years prior to the time it expects to convert an educational center to a university campus, the University of California Regents or the California State University Trustees should submit to the Commission (with copies to the Department of Finance, the Demographic Research Unit, and the Office of the Legislative Analyst) a Letter of Intent.

The Letter of Intent for the conversion of an educational center to a university campus should contain the following information:

  • A 10-year enrollment history (headcount and FTES) of the educational center, or the complete enrollment history, if the center has been in operation for less than 10 years.
  • A preliminary 10-year enrollment projection (headcount and FTES) for the new campus (from the campus's opening date), developed by the system office. The system office may seek the advice of the Demographic Research Unit (DRU) in developing the projection, but Unit approval is not required at this stage.
  • Maps of the area in which the proposed university campus is to be located, indicating population densities, topography, road and highway configurations and any other features of interest.
  • A schedule for converting the educational center and for developing the new university campus, including preliminary dates and enrollment levels at the opening, intermediate, and final build out stages.
  • A tentative five-year capital outlay budget starting on the date of the first capital outlay appropriation for the new university campus.
  • The identification of neighboring public and independent institutions in the area in which the proposed university is to be located.
  • A copy of the resolution by the Regents or the Trustees authorizing conversion of the educational center to a university campus.
The Commission Executive Director shall respond to the chief executive officer, in writing, no later than 60 days following submission of the completed Letter of Intent to the Commission.

The Commission's Executive Director will advise the system chief executive officer to move forward with site acquisition or to develop plans. The Commission Executive Director may in this process raise concerns about shortcomings or limitations in the Letter of Intent that need to be addressed in the planning process. If the Commission Executive Director is unable to approve the Letter of Intent as submitted, he or she shall indicate to the chief executive officer the specific reasons why the Letter of Intent is incomplete prior to notifying the Department of Finance and the Office of the Legislative Analyst.

California Community Colleges:

Not less than two years prior to the time it expects to convert an educational center to a community college campus, a district should submit a Letter of Intent (with copies to the Commission, Department of Finance, the Demographic Research Unit, and the Office of the Legislative Analyst) to the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges. Upon completing its review, the Board of Governors, or the Chancellor, if so delegated by the Board, will forward its recommendation to the Postsecondary Education Commission. The Commission will act on a Letter of Intent only after it has been approved by Board of Governors or the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges. The Letter of Intent to convert an educational center to a community college campus should contain the following information:
  • A 10-year enrollment and attendance history (headcount and FTES) of the educational center, or the complete enrollment history, if the center has been in operation for less than 10 years.
  • A preliminary 10-year enrollment and attendance projection (headcount and FTES) for the proposed campus (from the campus's opening date), developed by the district or the Chancellor's Office. The Chancellor's Office may seek the advice of the Demographic Research Unit (DRU) in developing the projection.
  • Maps of the area of the proposed campus indicating population densities, topography, and road and highway configurations and any other features of interest.
  • A time schedule for converting the educational center and for developing the campus, including preliminary dates and enrollment levels at the opening, intermediate, and final build out stages.
  • A tentative five-year capital outlay budget starting on the date of the first capital outlay appropriation for the proposed campus.
  • The identification of neighboring public and independent institutions in the area in which the proposed campus is to be located.
  • A copy of the letter from the Chancellor's Office approving the Letter of Intent.
The Commission Executive Director shall respond to the Chancellor, in writing, no later than 60 days following submission of the completed Letter of Intent to the Commission. If the plans appear to be reasonable, the Commission's Executive Director will advise the Chancellor to move forward with site acquisition or further development plans. The Commission Executive Director may in this process raise concerns about shortcomings or limitations in the Letter of Intent that need to be addressed in the planning process. If the Executive Director is unable to approve the Letter of Intent as submitted, he or she shall indicate to the chief executive officer the specific reasons why the Letter of Intent is incomplete.

Needs Study

The Needs Study provides the findings from a comprehensive need analysis for the project. The purpose of a Needs Study is to provide evidence of the need for and location of new institutions and campuses of public higher education. A Needs Study is considered complete only when it fully addresses each of the criteria listed below.

Upon receipt of a Needs Study, the Executive Director shall certify to the systemwide chief executive officer, in writing and within 60 days, that it is complete, or that it requires additional information. If it is incomplete, the Executive Director shall indicate the specific deficiencies involved. When the Commission Executive Director has certified that all necessary materials for the Needs Study have been received, the Commission, within 12 months, will approve or disapprove the new institution.

The Commission Executive Director will notify the system executive officer, appropriate legislative committee chairs, the Department of Finance, and the Office of the Legislative Analyst.

A Needs Study for the conversion of an educational center to a university or community college campus should contain the following information:

General Description and Overview

The opening section of the Needs Study must include: A general description of the proposal, a brief history of the center, a physical description of the site, and a social and demographic analysis of the surrounding area. Data describing the socioeconomic profile of the area or region should be included, with income levels and racial/ethnic categorizations provided. Inclusion of various charts, tables, or other displays is encouraged.

Enrollment Projections

Enrollment projections must be sufficient to justify the establishment of the new campus. For a proposed new community college or university campus, enrollment projections for the first ten years of operation (from opening date) must be provided.

The Demographic Research Unit (DRU) of the Department of Finance must approve enrollment projections. As the designated demographic agency for the State, the DRU has the statutory responsibility for preparing systemwide enrollment projections. For a proposed new institution, the DRU will approve all projections of undergraduate enrollment developed by a system office of one of the public systems proposing the new institution. Enrollment projections developed by a local community college district must be approved by the Chancellor's Office. Upon request, the DRU shall provide the system with advice and instructions on the preparation of enrollment projections.

Undergraduate enrollment and attendance projections for a new institution shall be presented in terms of Fall Term headcount and Fall Term-Full Time Equivalent Students (FTES). Enrollment projections for California Community Colleges should also include Weekly Student Contact Hours (WSCH) and WSCH per headcount student.

A discussion of the extent to which, in quantitative terms, the proposed campus will increase systemwide or district capacity and help meet statewide and regional enrollment demand.

The educational center's previous enrollment history, or the previous 10-year's history (whichever is less) must also be provided.

Graduate and professional student enrollment projections shall be prepared by the system office proposing the new institution. In preparing these projections, the specific methodology and/or rationale generating the projections, an analysis of supply and demand for graduate education, and the need for new graduate and professional degrees must be provided.

For a new University of California campus, statewide enrollment projected for the University should exceed the planned enrollment capacity of existing University campuses and educational centers. If the statewide enrollment projection does not exceed the planned enrollment capacity for the University system, compelling statewide and/or regional needs for the establishment of the new university campus must be demonstrated.

For a new California State University campus, statewide enrollment projected for the State University system should exceed the planned enrollment capacity of existing State University campuses and educational centers. If the statewide enrollment projection does not exceed the planned enrollment capacity for the system, compelling regional needs must be demonstrated.

For a new community college campus, enrollment projected for the district proposing the college should exceed the planned enrollment capacity of existing district colleges and centers. Compelling regional or local need must be demonstrated if the district enrollment projection does not exceed the planned enrollment capacity of existing district colleges or centers.

Alternatives

Proposals for new institutions should address at least the following alternatives:
  • the possibility of maintaining an educational center instead of a university or college campus;
  • the expansion of existing institutions within the region;
  • the increased utilization of existing institutions, particularly in the afternoons and evenings, and during the summer months;
  • the shared use of existing or new facilities and programs with other postsecondary education institutions, in the same or other public systems or independent institutions;
  • the use of nontraditional modes of instructional delivery such as television, computerized instruction, instruction over the Internet, and other "distributed education" modes and techniques; and
  • private fund raising or donations of land or facilities for the proposed new institution.
A cost-benefit analysis of alternatives, including a consideration of alternative sites for the new institution, must be articulated and documented. This criterion may be satisfied by the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), provided it contains a comprehensive analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of alternative sites. Overall, the system proposing the new institution must demonstrated substantial analytical integrity with regard to the site selection process.

Where a four-year system, or a community college district, already owns or will have received as a donation the site on which a new institution is proposed to be located, and has not considered other sites, a strong justification for "sole-sourcing" the site in question must be included. Options to be discussed should include the sale of the site, with the resulting revenue used to purchase a better site, or an alternative delivery system such as a collaboration with another public or private institution or organization.

Academic Planning and Program Justification

The proposal must include a preliminary description of the proposed academic degree programs, along with a description of the proposed academic organizational structure. This description must demonstrate conformity with the Commission's academic program review guidelines and with such State goals as access, quality, intersegmental cooperation, and the diversification of students, faculty, administration, and staff.

The Needs Study must show evidence of a process leading to full institutional accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and provide an estimated timeline for attaining accreditation by WASC within a reasonable period of time following approval of the institution.

Student Services and Outreach

The proposal for the new institution must include a description of the student services planned for the new campus including student financial aid, advising, counseling, testing, tutoring, educational opportunity programs, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and outreach services to historically underrepresented groups and how these programs will be sustained over time.

Support and Capital Outlay Budget Projections

The proposal must include a 10-year capital outlay projection that includes the total Assigned Square Feet (ASF) anticipated to be required for each year of the projection period, with estimates of the average cost per ASF.

The proposal must include a five-year projection of anticipated support costs including administration, academic programs (including occupational/vocational as appropriate), academic support, and other standard expense elements.

Geographic and Physical Accessibility

The proposal must include a plan for student, faculty, and staff transportation to the proposed campus and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Reasonable commuting times must be demonstrated.

Plans for student and faculty housing, including projections of needed on-campus residential facilities should be included if appropriate.

Effects on Other Institutions

Provide evidence that other systems, institutions, and the community in which the new institution is to be located were consulted during the planning process, especially at the time that alternatives to expansion are explored. Strong local, regional, and/or statewide interest in the proposed facility must be demonstrated by letters of support from responsible agencies, groups, and individuals.

The conversion of an educational center to a university campus must take into consideration the impact of the expansion on existing and projected enrollments in neighboring institutions of its own and other systems.

The conversion of an educational center to a community college must not reduce existing and projected enrollments in adjacent community colleges either within the district proposing the new community college, or in adjacent districts, to a level that will damage their economy of operation, or create excess enrollment capacity at these institutions, or lead to an unnecessary duplication of programs.

Environmental Impact

The proposal must include a copy of the Summary Draft or Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the site or the project. The system board shall provide the Commission with detailed sections of the Draft or Final EIR upon request.

Economic Efficiency

The Commission encourages economic efficiency and gives priority to new institutions where the State of California is relieved of all or part of the financial burden. When such proposals include gifts of land, construction costs, or equipment, a higher priority shall be granted to such projects than to projects where all costs are born by the State, assuming all other criteria listed above are satisfied. A similar priority shall be given to new campuses that engage in collaborative efforts with other segments to expand educational access in underserved regions of the State as determined by the Commission.

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