Accreditation committee delivers positive report

The Accreditation Steering Committee delivered a positive exit report Thursday, March 10 in the Great Hall after last accrediting Pierce College three years ago.

During the exit report meeting, Pierce College Accreditation Team Chair, Joel Kinnaman, gave a final summary of their observations of the college and what Pierce needs to improve on.

“Overall, the exit report meeting went well. There was a very positive outcome,” said Sheri Berger, vice president of academic affairs. “A lot of the recommendations the committee gave weren’t really a surprise.”

If you plan on transferring from Pierce to another school, then credits from a non-accredited college will not transfer appropriately. Course credits only transfer from institutions that are nationally accredited.

It is important for community colleges to be accredited because of the financial aid students can obtain and even the jobs they will get upon graduating, according to Lyn Clark.

“If the college is not accredited then the students would not be able to transfer anywhere. All of the classes you take would not count and it would be as if you did not have an education,” Lyn Clark said.

Los Angeles Pierce College began preparations for the 2016 accreditation cycle in the spring of 2014 by preparing a 350-page self-evaluation report. The self-evaluation report can take over a year to be put together. The report presents each standard that the community college has to demonstrate and what the college needs to complete.

The Pierce College Council approved the self-evaluation report during the Fall 2015 semester after a presentation given by faculty accreditation coordinator Margarita Pillado. During her presentation Pillado presented each standard that Pierce college has to demonstrate they have completed during the accreditation process.

“It is very important to show the accreditation committee the accredit information has been discussed at the campus level throughout all committee groups,” said Margarita Pillado faculty accreditation coordinator.

The Accreditation Steering Committee must thoroughly describe what Peirce College has done to meet the accreditation standards. The accreditation commission also added standards in the middle of the year, lengthening the process.

“If the college isn’t accredited nobody will come here because they cannot get an AA degree that has any validity,” Clark said.

Accreditation is both an evaluative process and seal of approval for institutions of higher education. Fundamentally, accreditation ensures that you are obtaining a quality education and for your future employers and graduate programs to recognize your education.

“The whole process went well. The last meeting was great. I heard the accreditation team give us commendations for the library and for our planning. They thought that those areas were outstanding. I can’t wait to see the school’s final report.” said Jose Luis Fernandez, Dean of Academic affairs.

The compliance recommendations that the accreditation committee gave are related to the following topics: evaluation of personnel, the search for and selection of adjunct faculty, calculation of future liability and faculty load-banking, development of a business continuity plan, external audit findings and consistent review of Board of Trustee rules.

The three recommended areas for improvement include the following: position control, liabilities and future obligations related to the other post-employee benefits (OPEB) obligations and institutional governance, according to Peirce College President Kathleen Burke in an email sent out to faculty.

“It is likely that this recommendation will say “in order to meet the Standards the College should undertake a series of actions.” We will not know the specifics of that until we see the draft report, which will still be confidential and will remain so until the ACCJC acts on the report at their meeting in early June 2016,” stated President Burke.