Senate addresses accreditation issues

This week’s Academic Senate meeting was held Monday to discuss a variety of topics concerning the Pierce College campus at large.

President of the Senate Kathy Oborn called the meeting to order and introduced President Kathleen Burke to begin with the College Administration Report.

In this report, Burke informed the members that the overarching plan for Pierce College needed to be integrated by having the strategic plan as the main plan in place. Instead of the current education plan that is in place, she moved to have the strategic plan be the overarching plan for the school for the next four years.

A four-year cycle was also suggested in order to better comply with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). The Pierce College Counsel considered it last week, but Monday this plan was officially approved by the members.

President Kathy Oborn informed the counsel that a vote for the recommendation of the Accreditation Chair was to take place with the Senate representatives in the meeting. Randall Lewis, Connie Moffatt, and Margarita Pillado were the eligible candidates on hand. Each of them stood to give their reasoning on why they believe they deserved the recommendation.

After several minutes of confusion on how the vote was to take place because of issues involving the Brown Act, the vote was held. Two separate ties took place during the voting, but finally Margarita Pillado was selected to gain the recommendation for Accreditation Chair.

“My first choice would be Margarita,” said President Kathy Oborn. “I will break the tie and extend the recommendation to her.” Pillado’s experience, exposure, and leadership roles held played a large role in her selection.

This week’s Treasure’s Report was given by Joe Perret where he informed the counsel that the health center was not being funded enough, and that the possible option to help funding would be to raise the health fee from $11 to $17.

Perret also revealed that Pierce College’s reserve fund of $8 million is being eaten away at by the campus in several areas. By the end of this year alone $4 million will be used to fund the entire campus. Many possible options of increasing budget were discussed including cutting many of the school’s expenses.

President Kathy Oborn discussed the need to create a By Laws Task Force for Pierce College. She explained to the counsel that this Take Force is need to help amend the by laws of the school.

Volunteers were asked to come forward, and four members were selected. They will meet for the first time this week to select a chair and create a plan for improving the by laws for Pierce.

Education planning was thoroughly discussed amongst the members of the Senate counsel. The issues of double classes, reduced number of adjunct professors, as well as basic and transfer level math classes being offered were all touched on.

These topics are continually being taken into consideration to improve for Pierce. Our campus has experienced a reduction in enrollment from the Spring semester to this current a fall semester. All possible explanations for this happening were talked about which included financial aid circumstances, increased classes, and closing the gap between day and night classes.

“From the information we’ve gathered, we see that the students taking the night classes from 6:45 p.m. and on are doing better than the students taking classes during the day,” counsel member James McKeever said.

Making a better strategy for our campus’ educational plan was a very important topic of discussion.

New business was on hand to close the Academic Senate Meeting which involved the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and their resolution with the ACCJC.

This resolution comes after many law suits were filed which came after the officials in San Francisco came under fire for the mishandling of several community colleges causing them to shut down, removing their accreditation, and over 90,000 students being lose because of the shutdown.

Faculty salaries were also in question in these lawsuits alleging conflict of interest and unfair business practices by the ACCJC.

“In terms of students, the way it is hurting you is by taking time away from the students by the faculty complying with the ACCJC and not spending as much time with the students for extra help,” said council member George Ogan.

The student learning program that is mandated in every college by the ACCJC is not being properly being managed; in turn 6 of 9 colleges in this valley are on probation. These colleges include Mission and Valley College. Pierce College recently received reaffirmation from the ACCJC and is not currently on probation.

A further review of Pierce will be conducted in March when the plan of recommendation is due. These recommendations include integration planning, student learning outcomes, and internal control.

Pierce College will continue to comply with the ACCJC and remain off any kind of probation in the best interest of the campus.