DVC prepares to maintain its accreditation

Rachel Ann Reyes, Co-editor-in-chief

The DVC accreditation advisory group is in the process of drafting reports to pass the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges’ (ACCJC) requirements to remain an accredited school.

This preparation comes months after the ACCJC decided to revoke City College of San Francisco’s accreditation.

According to Susan Lamb, vice president of instruction and accreditation liaison officer, a team from ACCJC visits about every six years in which they take their information and report back to the commission making recommendations. The final decision goes to the commission, a group of about 40 people who serve on ACCJC.

The recommendation options that the visiting team can make to colleges are to reaffirm their accreditation, reaffirm accreditation with a follow up report or with a follow up visit, defer action and sanction.

Sanction, the most serious option for a college, includes three different levels, which are warning, probation and show cause.

The last time ACCJC visited DVC six years ago, the college was placed on show cause, which Lamb simply described by stating, “you should show cause that you should still remain accredited.”

Jeanie Dewhurst, senior executive assistant in the president’s office and accreditation advisory group member, explained that DVC was put on show cause because the college had not resolved recommendations made by a visiting team, which involved decision making roles, curriculum and college wide planning within a two year time frame.

According to a KTVU article from Aug. 14, City College will be deemed unaccredited by ACCJC come July 31, 2014, because “the school had fully addressed only two of the 14 recommendations the commission made when it sanctioned the school last year.”

That same article mentioned that the Department of Education sent a letter to the ACCJC’s commission president, Barbara Beno, citing a multitude of issues with the accrediting process. Problems included the lack of faculty members on the visiting team to City College, as well as a conflict of interest being that Beno’s husband served on an evaluation team.

The decision against City College’s accreditation is not final, but with fire surrounding ACCJC, members of the accreditation advisory group do not seem deterred in following their standards in hopes of remaining accredited.

“As far as their credibility for the ACCJC, I really don’t think it changes that at all,” Sue Rohlicek said, senior administrative assistant and accreditation advisory group member. “I think the ACCJC will probably make adjustments in their own procedures to respond to the [Department of Education] letter…”

Rohlicek went on to say, “DVC has to go through the self-evaluation report and meet the deadlines, we have to do our [substantive] change report, we have to do all our reporting through ACCJC regardless of what’s happening at City College.”

According to Dewhurst, changes since bouncing back from show cause have included revising our mission statement and creating a resource allocation process which helps fund college activities.

When looking back at DVC, Lamb finds that the college is in a different position than it was six years ago.

“The very fact that we’re not comfortable where we are and that we’re wanting to improve and that people are impatient for us to improve, I think says a lot about where we are and how we’ve changed,” Lamb said.

The process of drafting and reviewing reports will take at least another year, and by next October we will be reviewed by one of ACCJC’s teams. Submitting a substantive change proposal and self-evaluation and proving that we should remain accredited is crucial to our college, especially with other community colleges in danger.

“Our show cause and our issues were handled the exact opposite that City College is doing,” Dewhurst said. “When we got that letter, the college ratcheted up and… spent two years working really hard getting all of the recommendations resolved because we care about the college and we care about the students.”

Although it can be a difficult process to bounce back from sanction from ACCJC, Lamb stresses that it is possible and DVC is one school that has done it in the past.

“We’re one of the few colleges that has gone on show cause and managed to bring themselves back to reaccreditation…,” Lamb said. “I don’t know of another college, that is the size of this college, that has been able to do that and I think that says a lot about the staff and the faculty at this college…”