Open forum discusses school accreditation

Open forum discusses school accreditation

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Open Forum had around 50 attendees representing their colleges hosted on Zoom last Wednesday to review Pierce College’s ICER review. 

The meeting consisted of Pierce’s plans for enrollment accreditation.    

Transfer Center Director Sunday Salter said that for enrollment, students will have a unique enrollment date instead of just one open enrollment. 

“Students have a unique enrollment date that they’re supposed to register for classes and that date was simply not known to our students and this was across our district,” Salter said. “And so we worked with our district office to change this so that when students logged into their student portal, they no longer just saw the enrollment date, but their unique enrollment date.”  

Salter explained that the enrollment committee had done “secret shopping” to learn about enrolling in classes and realized that it needs to be more student friendly. And with the Transfer Center, Salter said that they’re peer advising, where recent transferred students help out Pierce students with the process as they try to improve upon the current program. 

“This has really helped to create a more transfer centric culture across our campus,” Salter said. “In the years before us, our students and faculty were really focused on getting students to the Cal States, but we want students to find the right fit university and to expand their horizons as best as possible.”     

Pierce’s Anthropology and Geo Sciences Professor Erin Hayes talked about the Honors Program currently having around 1200 active students and how Pierce honor certified students have a 76 percent acceptance rate in UCLA. Overtime Hayes said that she expects the number to jump to 80 percent as there are students who have not completed their requirements yet.   

Hayes added that the Honors Program is working on outreach to have students that are not represented to join the program. 

“And so we’re working at the moment on developing strategies to outreach to these populations that are not as well represented in our program, particularly students of color, low income students and veterans,” Hayes said.  

Director of Pierce’s Center for Academic Success Crystal Kiekel said that she had seen higher retention rates from students who have entered English 101 and for transfer level math. 

“The participants of our center have higher fall to spring retention, and that’s even higher yet amongst our students who identify as Hispanic or Latino x or African-American,” Kiekel said. 

Director of Dual Enrollment and English Department Chair Brad Saenz mentioned that the outreach and collaboration with CAS has been fruitful when it comes to having Pierce students pass 101 along with having more supportive courses and workshops. 

Saenz also spoke on the success of the Summer Bridge Program along with Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team’s (EDIT) efforts in making sure students feel at ease when learning and working closely with the UMOJA program and Chicano studies to facilitate better student engagement. He also mentioned the expansion to new high schools. 

“We’ve hired a brand new outreach office that assists high school students,” Saenz said. “Just in the last couple of months, we’ve expanded from 12 to 16 high schools and we’re expanding course offerings.”                                                

Dean of Current Technical Education Mon Khat highlighted the construction of the brand new extended automotive facility along with receiving a grant to buy more advanced vehicles. 

“We’ve dedicated ourselves to new and advanced transportation vehicles, electric, hybrid electric, hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles,” Khat said. “Recently we got a grant for about $500,000 to purchase additional advanced transportation vehicles like Tesla’s and our full Hybrid cell vehicles, and we’re looking at light duty vehicles as well, in terms of training our students for the future.” 

Along with new construction of different facilities, ASO plans on spearheading the multicultural center as part of their resolution. ASO co-advisor Lara Conrady said that ASO had done a survey and along with Dean of Student Engagement Juan Carlos Astorga. 

“We did a survey and over 200 students completed it and got feedback into our resolution. And Dean Juan Carlos kept pushing that and so we hired a person to start that area, and the students cannot be more excited,” Conrady said.  

Additionally, Conrady announced that there will be more events happening on campus for students such as planning for the wellness week during finals or beginning of transfer. 

 The president of Crafton Hills College Kevin Horan announced that there will be plans to make more in-person trips to review Pierce’s and their colleges ICER report. 

“We are planning to meet as a team in Sacramento for our in-person ICER review finalization,” Horan said. “On that we would then indicate to you as a part of our focus site visit which would take place later in spring.”