Cal Poly Pomona’s highly successful program for converting military training and experience into transferable college credit will be the working model for a $2-million California Award for Innovation in Higher Education Program joint grant initiative.
A consortium consisting of Saddleback College, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach and the director of Veterans Affairs at the CSU Chancellor’s Office, Patrick O’Rourke, convened on April 28 to review the project work plan that is to be submitted to the California Department of Finance.
Saddleback College will serve as the grant administrator for the next four years. As part of the grant objectives, Cal Poly Pomona will showcase the work of its faculty members in military transfer credit recognition.
The faculty members will share their experience and rationale for recognizing military coursework and establishing articulation agreements. This is an essential step in ensuring that new faculty participating in training sessions will understand the fundamentals of reviewing military coursework curriculum.
Saddleback has a Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETS) program, but the campus is seeking to develop a system that will convert military experience into college credit. Cal State Fullerton is the main feeder college for Saddleback.
Developing a streamlined system that seamlessly converts military transfer credit achieves two goals: eliminate academic redundancy and reduce the time to earn a degree.
“Cal Poly Pomona is the case study for this initiative,” said Elke Azpeitia, coordinator of the Veterans Resource Center. “We are the leader in terms of military transfer credit recognition across the CSU system, and we’ve been recognized by the CSU for best practices.”
In 2012, the California Legislature enacted AB2462, which requires California community colleges to develop a standard of course articulations that recognizes military transfer coursework and experience.
“The hope is that this grant will pave the way and support our community college partners in achieving this goal,” Azpeitia said.
Since Cal Poly Pomona started working on transfer credit guidelines five years ago, 62 military transfer course articulation agreements have been established, Azpeitia said. These classes are part of military training and experience, but determining if those classes are eligible for college credit is a complex task.
The American Council on Education (ACE) is responsible for visiting military bases to evaluate courses and curriculum. The agency recruits faculty members to serve as ACE evaluators, who then go to the bases to review course content and determine whether the classes meet college credit standards.
“Many of our student veterans come to us at the community colleges having amassed such a depth of knowledge and skills, yet public institutions in California articulate very little to no actual credits toward their degree path,” says Terence C Nelson, the VETS program coordinator at Saddleback. “We are excited to partner with Cal Poly Pomona, the leader in assessing and applying meaningful course credit to our veterans at public universities in California.”
In the fall 2016 quarter, there were about 425 student veterans on campus, which is considered a medium-sized student-veteran population within the CSU. The university will hold its Veterans Graduation Celebration on May 30.