Publish Date: 8/17/2012 4:16 PM

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded Crafton Hills College (CHC) a four-year Challenge Grant of $280,000 to support the College’s Arabic Studies project. The project will open the study of Arabic language and culture to community college students in the Inland Empire. Challenge Grants require that the institution raise two-to-one nonfederal funds during that time period to create an endowment to sustain Arabic instruction.

Preparations for Arabic Studies at Crafton Hills College began in 2006 when the Chancellor challenged the district to increase the number of students acquiring foreign language proficiency. Over the next four years, a team of faculty members created curriculum and secured articulation agreements with four-year institutions, including those in the University of California and the California State University systems. An Associate of Arts degree in Arabic was approved for Crafton Hills College and has been listed in the catalog since 2010, but funding cuts in the California community college system have made it impossible to offer Arabic courses as yet.

As a result of the funding by the NEH, students will have the opportunity to take beginning through intermediate Arabic courses at Crafton Hills College and achieve the Associate of Arts degree in this field. Although CHC students have a number of options when they decide to transfer to a four year university, the most common destination college for Crafton Hills College transfer students is CSU San Bernardino, which is also the only CSU to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arabic.

The College’s close physical proximity to and articulation agreement with CSU San Bernardino will make it easy for interested students to continue their advanced study of Arabic language and culture there. Since the required state and district approvals are already in place for Arabic courses and the Associate of Arts degree, there will be no delays in offering the first CHC Arabic course. Also included in this project are library acquisitions, connections to Middle Eastern and Muslim culture, study abroad opportunities, and plans to create three additional courses related to Arabic Studies.

According to Dr. Cheryl Marshall, interim president of CHC, “This grant will permit Crafton Hills College to provide a program of study that has been in the planning for half-a dozen years, but that we have been stymied in offering due to budget cuts. We are excited to have the opportunity to offer in-demand foreign language courses that will assist students in both their academic preparation and with employment opportunities. This grant is designed to prepare interested students with both language skills and cultural background and understanding, facilitating their ability to transfer to CSU San Bernardino to major in Arabic studies.”

Karen Childers, Crafton Hills College Director of Resource Development and Grants, explained that, “The Crafton Hills College Foundation will be instrumental in assisting with raising the required matching funds. We anticipate that the match will be raised through a variety of activities, including annual campaigns, alumni campaigns, special events, major gifts, and grants. Letters of inquiry are being prepared for submission to private foundations with an interest in expanding the knowledge of Arabic language and culture. The Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, manages over $1.2 million in assets and is governed by an experienced Board of Directors.”

She noted that, “In addition, the NEH project proposal includes a part-time Resource Officer to work specifically on raising matching funds for the Arabic Studies project. The contacts already established with the Arabic speaking community in the Inland Empire will be a great help in securing that staffing.”

Crafton Hills College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The College offers more than 40 degree programs and 30 certificate options, providing a variety of educational paths for both transfer and career preparation. Since its opening in 1972, learners of all ages, interests and backgrounds have passed through the doors of CHC, taking advantage of this first step to higher learning. The College, one of the two in the San Bernardino Community College District, currently serves about 6,200 students per semester.

For additional information, contact Dr. Cheryl Marshall, interim president, at 909-389-3200, or cmarshal@craftonhills.edu, Rick Hogrefe, Dean of Arts and Sciences, at 909-989-3205 or rhogrefe@craftonhills.edu, or Karen Childers, Director of Resource Development and Grants at 909-389-3392 or kchilder@craftonhills.edu.

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