Becoming a Metropolitan Community: Roseville to actively recruit higher education institutions

On April 4, 2012, the Roseville City Council accepted the findings and recommendations of the City’s multi-stakeholder Higher Education Task Force. In doing so, it took a significant step toward increasing higher education options for Roseville and South Placer County residents.

Regional leaders and residents alike have long expressed a desire for a comprehensive college or university in South Placer County providing a broad range of degree programs. One or more universities in the area would bring benefits such as more educational opportunities closer to home, economic and workforce development, increased cultural opportunities such as art and drama, and would help define who we are as a community. It is a key element of the quality-of-life balance we need as our community grows to a metropolitan stature.

In the past, our university-attraction efforts were more reactive than proactive, mostly in response to specific development proposals. As residents, we know how great our community is. That’s why we choose to live here. We also know there is overwhelming support for more educational opportunity, based on past advisory ballot measures and surveys. So why haven’t we been more successful in attracting universities? It’s pretty simple: We needed a new strategy – one that focuses on reaching out to potential educational partners to convince them that South Placer County is the place to be.

In June 2011, the City Council convened the Higher Education Task Force to chart a new course. Its mission was to improve upon past efforts and develop recommendations for expanding higher education opportunities in the community. Task Force members were selected through an open public recruitment and included residents, educators and administrators from regional colleges and the Roseville Joint Union High School District, business and industry leaders, developers, and elected officials from the City of Roseville, Placer County, and the Sierra Joint Community College District. It was a diverse and highly qualified group.

The Task Force established a vision for Roseville and South Placer County to become the home for a cluster of higher education institutions offering a vibrant array of educational programs. We will implement this vision through innovative partnerships, collaboration, and a sustained commitment to higher learning. We recognize achieving the vision won’t be easy and will require a dedicated long-term commitment by the City of Roseville, the community, regional leaders, and our educational partners. But we have a plan with a renewed focus and a collective mission. Now we’ll all be pulling in the same direction.

Is our vision realistic? Absolutely, but it will take time and patience. Think “two decades, not two years” is a quote coined by one industry expert we interviewed. While keeping our eye on the future, we will also be working hard to establish new partnerships and strengthen existing ones to facilitate short-term solutions. One such partnership was formalized on April 11, 2012 when the City signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sacramento State University. The MOU outlines the City and Sacramento State’s commitment to work in collaboration to promote planning and growth of the University’s presence in the community and to expand higher education opportunities in the region. The City signed a similar agreement in 2011 with Sierra College, and we are working toward that goal with other regional institutions.

Speaking of other regional institutions, you may be well aware that several are represented in the Roseville / South Placer County region, including: William Jessup University, Brandman University, National University, University of Phoenix, and Heald College. Some were represented on the Task Force. The mission isn’t to compete with these fine institutions, but rather, to complement and augment existing programs to meet a wide and growing range of community educational needs.

I’d like to extend my personal thanks to the dedicated Task Force members who volunteered their time and energy to help us develop this strategy. They’re a shining example of what makes our community spirit unique. I encourage you to read the Task Force’s final report, which can be downloaded from www.roseville.ca.us/highered.

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