Clovis Community College grows, announces Central Valley Promise program

Clovis Community College President Dr. Lori Bennett (front) joins council members and Mayor Bob Whalen for a group photo after providing a college update at the March 19 city council meeting. (Ron Sundquist/Clovis Roundup)

Big things are on the horizon for Clovis Community College.

In just three short years as its own stand-alone community college within the State Center Community College District, President Lori Bennett said the school has nearly doubled its student population, which is now equivalent in size to that of Reedley College with 12,000 students.

Alongside that growth, the quality of the education remains as high as the rapidly increasing quantity of students, as Clovis Community continues to have one of the highest transfer and retention rates of all community colleges within the state.

“We just received fall 2018 data and we had more students transfer into the UC system from Clovis Community College than any of the other community colleges within our district,” Bennett said. “And our retention rates are over 90 percent for all of our different student populations.”

Clovis Community also boasts several other accolades. In December, the college was honored as one of 10 national finalists for the Bellwether award for its project with CUSD, specifically the Clovis West High School English department, in collaborating to align the high school’s English curriculum to better prepare students for college level English courses. Just recently, Clovis Community was awarded as the local college to house the Small Business Development Center, which was housed at Fresno State for the last several years.

While these statistics and accomplishments are exciting in and of themselves, Bennett announced during a presentation before the Clovis City Council on March 19 that the college plans to implement a new program with CUSD called Central Valley Promise.

As part of Central Valley Promise, CUSD students who attend Clovis Community will have an opportunity to complete their first semester of college for free. With tuition costs on the rise even at the more affordable community college level, the prospect of a free semester is sure to motivate Clovis Unified students to pursue higher education.

“We are fundraising to provide full tuition for all students in the Valley for their first semester starting in the fall 2019,” Bennett said of the State Center Community College District, which is also supporting a promise between Fresno City College and other neighboring districts, specifically Fresno Unified. “Clovis Unified and Clovis Community College will be partners in our Central Valley Promise.”

By the time the Central Valley Promise program goes into effect in 2019, Bennett said the campus hopes to break ground on its third 80,000 square-foot building, funded in majority by $70 million in bond funds from Measure C, which was approved two years ago. The college is simply waiting for an additional $20 million in state funds to begin design and construction of the building, which will house new career and technical education (CTE) programs already in the curriculum design stages.