Quincy Sun // Published January 19, 2017 // By Quincy Sun Staff

Gov Charlie Baker has signed into law a bill that allows Quincy College, a two-year community college, the ability to confer four-year Baccalaureate degrees in addition to the currently awarded Associate degrees and Certificates.

The bill was signed into law Jan. 13 – days after it was approved by the Massachusetts State Legislature.

College officials said the new law heralds a major change for an institution that has been solely a two-year community college since it was founded in 1958. Quincy College retains its core mission and foundation of open-access certificates and associate degrees and can now begin building towards baccalaureate programs.

In April of 2015, Quincy College first sought permission from state lawmakers to become a four-year school that is able to grant baccalaureate degrees via a home rule petition. A home-rule petition is a special act proposed by a city or town that goes to the state Legislature for approval. Quincy College’s governance is established by state law, and any major change must be approved by state lawmakers through a home-rule petition. Both the Mayor and City Council must approve the change because the college is affiliated with the City of Quincy.

Quincy College, with campuses in Quincy Center and Plymouth, currently offers associate’s degrees and certification programs to 5,000 students who students hail from the greater metro Boston area, South Shore, Cape and the Islands, as well as 121 countries around the world.

Nearly a year later after the home rule petition was submitted, on March 15, 2016, House Bill H.4061, An act authorizing Quincy College to confer baccalaureate degrees was reported favorably by and out of the Joint Legislative Committee on Higher Education and referred to the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives. At that time, the number of the bill was changed from H.4061 to H. 3556. When H.3556 was reported favorably by House Ways and Means committee, the bill was changed to H.4403.

The Bill was sponsored by House Majority Leader, Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy) and co-sponsored by Senator John F. Keenan (D-Quincy, representing Norfolk and Plymouth Counties), Representative Bruce J. Ayers (D-Quincy, representing 1st Norfolk County), Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy, 2nd representing Norfolk County), and Representative Daniel J. Hunt (D-Dorchester, Representing 13th Suffolk District).

Quincy College currently offers a range of associate-degree programs in majors ranging from criminal justice to nursing, as well as certificate programs in specialties such as accounting, game development and paralegal studies and will systematically expand degree offerings to support 4-year baccalaureate programs.

“This is a transformative event in that it allows Quincy College to assume its proper place as an institution of higher education in Quincy and Plymouth and towns up and down the Route 3 corridor,” said Quincy College President Peter H. Tsaffaras. “I often say that education is the passport that allows one to travel through and navigate our society. Without changing its mission, Quincy College can now offer an enhanced pathway to a baccalaureate degree, supporting not only the city of Quincy but the South Shore as a whole.“

“With campuses in Quincy and Plymouth, Quincy College enables access to higher education for students whose choices have historically been limited by work, income, family responsibilities or lack of transportation. This legislation and its outcome reflects the regional esteem that Quincy College has earned, the respect that our staff and faculty have fostered, and the quality education our students receive.”

The school’s main campus is in Presidents Place at 1250 Hancock St. in the heart of Quincy Center. It also has a large, full-service campus at 36 Cordage Park Circle in Plymouth. The four-year degree offerings would be rolled out systematically across programs at both the Quincy and Plymouth campuses.

”Quincy College will seek to introduce baccalaureate degrees selectively over time in occupations where the entry level credential is changing,“ said Aundrea Kelly, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. “For example, acute care hospitals now require a Bachelor’s Degree in the Science of Nursing. LPN graduates without a Bachelors Degree find themselves disadvantaged, having to find work in nursing homes or local clinics.”

“Quincy College remains focused on our mission of providing equal opportunity and access to students, regardless of the degree or certificate they seek. When surveyed, ninety-four percent of our students want to pursue a baccalaureate degree at Quincy College. We are so pleased to now be able to introduce this offering to our student population many of whom are place-bound,” Kelly said.

Studies have shown Quincy College already delivers the highest return on education investment across two-year public colleges in Massachusetts and the entire New England region. Quincy College programs are designed to provide students with skills and training to enter the workforce or pursue advanced degrees.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, Quincy College students ranked #1 as top salary earners in Massachusetts and New England across two-year public colleges. The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard data reveals the successful outcomes of Quincy College students.

The institution becoming a four-year college comes at a time when city leaders and private developers are revitalizing Downtown Quincy erecting new buildings to hold residential, commercial, and office space. The state is in the midst of a 7.9 million roadway and sidewalk improvement project called Adams Green. In addition, the college is expanding it’s Plymouth Campus footprint at the Old Cordage Rope Factory at 36 Cordage Park.

“Quincy College’s ability to confer baccalaureate degrees will allow Quincy College to grow in both Quincy and Plymouth, with positive, long-term effect for the south shore community, for the spatial footprint, and for the campuses, ” Tsaffaras said.