Academic Senate discusses issue with accreditation commission

In the Academic Senate meeting on Monday, Oct. 7, members discussed a resolution acknowledging potential wrongdoings of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges’ (ACCJC) decision to close San Francisco City College and revoke their accreditation.

The decision was made in July, affecting roughly 90,000 students and faculty, according to Senate member Kathy Holland.

The ACCJC is one of seven regional accrediting commissions and accredits community colleges and other associate degree-granting institutions in the western region of the U.S., according to their website.

“The CFT (California Federation of Teachers) has taken a leadership role in fighting against the ACCJC for their somewhat brutal tactics that they’ve leveled against some of the campuses,” Holland said.  “Fortunately for us, here at Pierce we’ve been doing such a good job that we have not been at the receiving end of some of the harsh treatment that they’ve given to other campuses.”

Pierce College is newly re-accredited by the ACCJC after over a year of working to meet the ACCJC’s strict compliance codes of accreditation.

According to Accreditation Chair Greg Gilberston, the ACCJC will be back in March to make sure Pierce has followed through with their requirements of adjusting Pierce’s integrated planning, authentic assessment of student learning outcomes, and internal control (grants, and financial aspects).

The lack of control over the ACCJC and their practices seems to be the biggest problem the Academic Senate and other community colleges are finding.

“Well that’s the issue, nobody seems to be watching the ACCJC,” Holland said. “That’s why we’re having this resolution.  We’re trying to get the DOE to actively look into and investigate the practices of the ACCJC.”

While Pierce College has currently met the ACCJC’s strict requirements, the Academic Senate fears any new repercussions affecting the campus and students in the future.

“We’re asking the dept. of education to step forward and take a leadership position in looking at and investigating ACCJC in terms of ethical violations, bad practices and so on,” Holland said in the meeting.

In other Senate news, the vote for the upcoming accreditation coordinator lead to two ties before the president had to decide in favor of one of the candidates during Monday’s meeting.

The tie was between Constance Moffatt and Margarita Pillado, first 17 – 17. When other viable voters arrived, a revote ended 19 – 19.

Pierce’s President Kathleen Burke tipped the scales in favor of Margarita Pillado, and broke the second tie. Pillado’s activity alongside her equal experience made her stick out slightly above Constance Moffatt in Burke’s eyes, though she affirms all the candidates were equally skilled and capable.

Margarita Pillado, a professor of Spanish in the modern language department, was voted by the senate as the suggested upcoming accreditation coordinator, and will be shadowing under the current coordinator so she can be eased into the work-filled position.

“It’s a way to serve the institution in ways that go above and beyond serving in the community level,” Pillado said. “I hope to serve the institution very well.”

The position handles the follow-up reports for the recommendations given by the ACCJC. To do so, various committees, organizations, and stakeholders must be brought together to get a detailed look at the school and its operations.

Greg Gilbertson, the current accreditation coordinator for this year, will teach Pillado how the job works and what must be done. Gilbertson just recently came back into the position, having occupied the position from 2004 to 2007 previously.

“I think the candidates were all excellent choices,” Gilbertson said. “I think the college will be in good hands.”