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In the final hours of the 2004 legislative session, the name of Okaloosa-Walton Community College was permanently changed to Okaloosa-Walton College, reflecting the college's new status as an accredited bachelor's degree-granting institution.

House Bill 1867, which also changed the name of Miami-Dade Community College and Chipola Junior College, now awaits signature by the governor. OWCC, Miami Dade and Chipola join St. Petersburg College as four of the state's 28 public community colleges now authorized to offer four-year degree programs.

"Once the governor signs that bill, we will be Okaloosa-Walton College," noted Dr. Bob Richburg, OWCC President. "We are thrilled for the opportunities our new bachelor's degree status will offer to area citizens and anticipate a formal switch to the new name by July 1."

The accreditation of OWCC by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for the college to become a four-year degree granting institution required that the college change its name. OWCC has to drop the word 'community' from its title, as 'community college' refers to a two-year degree granting institution.

The state's appropriations bill, which was also passed the legislature, establishes the funding and student tuition for upper division courses offered at community colleges who are authorized to award bachelor's degrees. Tuition for in-state students was set at a maximum of $57.94 per credit hour. The OWCC District Board of Trustees is scheduled to approve all OWCC tuition rates for the coming year at its June session. Traditionally, the college's trustees have set O-W tuition at a rate lower that the maximum allowed and have consistently approved tuition rates among the lowest in Florida.

The new Bachelor's degree programs at OWCC are now accepting admissions applications for Fall term and sixty-nine (69) students have been accepted thus far in the college's new Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree program in Project and Acquisitions Management.

The BAS degree in Project and Acquisitions Management will offer four tracks of specialization so students may tailor a degree to meet individual career goals or job requirements. Specialization tracks include: Acquisitions, Project Management, Quality Improvement, Training & Development/Human Resources. A customized option of study within the degree is also available. The BAS degree is designed with the working student in mind with classes offered in a flexible format. Approximately 50 percent of the instruction will be distance learning, with the remainder of classes available evenings, weekends, in concentrated "fast-track terms" or blended format. For information call 729-4900.

The new Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree will accept admissions applications through June 23. The program is limited to 24 students annually and is a career ladder for current Registered Nurses who desire to earn a bachelor's degree. The nursing degree is a partnership between OWCC and the University of West Florida, with all coursework available in Okaloosa or Walton counties. OWCC will provide upper division instruction for a majority of the clinical courses as well as for a portion of the theory classes. The nursing degree will be issued by UWF.

The official process for OWCC to become a 4-year college began in December 2002 when O-W submitted proposals to the Florida Board of Education for authority to grant bachelor's degrees. In April 2003, the college received state approval to offer its own bachelor's degree program in Project and Acquisitions Management and to develop a joint Okaloosa County based bachelor's degree in nursing in partnership with the University of West Florida. Offering bachelor's degrees also required accreditation approval from the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) which was granted in December 2003.

For information, see the OWCC bachelor's degree web site at

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