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Winemaking and Tourism Come into Focus as Madera College Plans Future



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Madera Community College’s blueprint for the next five years contains some proposed degree programs that would prepare students for jobs at neighboring wineries and vintners and at one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations that’s on its doorstep.

The master plan, which was being presented at Tuesday’s State Center Community College District board meeting, proposes expanding the plant science degree to include viticulture and enology, and also adding a culinary arts, tourism, and hospitality program.

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The plan also proposes doubling the number of nursing students and starting an information technology program.

And for those students who are drawn to college because of sports programs, Madera Community College wants to add soccer and softball fields, locker rooms, and other athletic facilities to the campus on 12th Avenue south of the city of Madera.

No Longer A College Center

The master plans identifies Madera as a college and not a college center, which it will continue to be until later this month when the California Community Colleges Board of Governors is scheduled to vote on making it the state’s 116th community college.

Up to now, Madera has been a satellite center of Reedley College, sharing in its accreditation, classes, and services. But it hit a milestone late last month when the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges announced that Madera had earned initial accreditation.

In preparing the master plan, college officials analyzed job and employment data in the region, target occupations, and the certificates awarded to graduates in recent years, and then asked the deans and faculty to recommend what could be added, retooled, expanded to a four-year programs, or be offered completely online.

Big Changes for Career Tech/STEM

In the Career Technology/STEM Division, the college proposes:

  • Developing a viticulture and enology program, with classes at Madera County wineries and farms.
  • Expanding the nursing program to start a new cohort of 50 LVN students every fall. Right now the college graduates 50 LVN students every 18 months, but there is waiting list of more than 100 applicants, some of whom have waited two to three years to enroll. The college also proposes doubling the number of RN students from 12 to 24.
  • Starting an information technology program and expanding the information services program.
  • Starting a culinary arts, tourism, and hospitality (CATH) program at the Madera and Oakhurst campuses, in partnership with local high schools, adult programs, and industries. The goal would be to serve tourists heading to Yosemite as well as those who come to Madera for wine tours, wine and food pairings, and other tourist opportunities. Culinary arts facilities at local high schools and area hotels and restaurants would be used initially for student laboratories.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email