Pima plugs away at accreditation

by AUDRIE FORD

Pima Community College officials continue to make progress rectifying concerns regarding the college’s accreditation status.

On Nov. 2, Acting Provost Dolores Durán-Cerda and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Accreditation Bruce Moses sent an email to Pima’s faculty and staff to inform them of the status of Pima’s accreditation.

The update is part of process that began in 2012 when PCC was first investigated following concerns reported by the Coalition for Accountability, Integrity, Respect and Responsibility.

Pima’s accreditation agency, the Higher Learning Commission, sent a fact-finding team to the college in January 2013 for a comprehensive review. The team conducted more than 100 interviews and collected data and other evidence during its three-day examination.

The investigators found several issues, including unaddressed sexual harassment allegations against the former chancellor, a work environment based on intimidation, and policies that conflicted with the purpose of the college.

As a result of these findings, the HLC placed Pima on a two-year probation beginning in April 2013. In February of 2015, the HLC removed Pima from probation and placed them “On Notice.”

The “On Notice” status doesn’t impact financial aid or transfer abilities, and all three state universities have confirmed they will continue to accept PCC transfer students as long as the college remains accredited.

While “On Notice,” Pima must submit reports to the HLC to prove they are making strides towards improving in the areas Pima failed of the commission’s Criteria for Accreditation, Federal Compliance requirements or Assumed Practices.

Pima must submit their next report in July 2016, detailing progress made in distinct areas identified by the HLC.

According to Durán-Cerda and Moses, Pima has already made improvements in the 11 areas the HLC identified as problematic. Moses has narrowed 26 concerns into four categories with a simple  color coding system to illustrate progress.

College officials said Pima has reached 40 percent compliance on the 26 areas of concern.

Moses stresses that while certain items may be “in the green,” that does not mean that work is finished. Many of the areas require constant update and revision for improvement, part of the college’s new stance on making constant progress.

At the Nov. 18 Board of Governors meeting, Moses said that great progress has already been made in the eight months since Pima began working towards improvement.

Moses also expressed concerns about the upcoming holiday breaks.

“We’re going to lose a month’s worth of work just because of the nature of the holidays,” he said. “So this is a very important time to keep an eye on where we’re at as an organization.”

Moses said that one of the most pressing needs for Pima was a mission and vision statement assessment. Because Pima currently lacks an established mission and vision, other areas that needed to be addressed had to wait.

The HLC laid out specific requirements for the mission and vision in a letter on March 9. They said that Pima needed “a well-defined, inclusive formal review process of the institution’s mission, including description of implementation and resulting outcomes.”

“We have to wait for that domino to drop,” Moses said of the mission and vision.

The college is currently reaching out to the community to input in redefining its mission statement. For more information on how to get involved, contact the office of Institutional Planning, Research and Effectiveness at 206-4934 or research@pima.edu.

Pg05-Accredidation

 

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