My name is Patti Flores-Charter, and I have been a faculty member at Southwestern College since 1992. I am also a member of the faculty Academic Senate and Senate Executive Committee.The SWC Accreditation Report raises many questions. This note is to
- Give you enough information to understand what is happening at our college with accreditation.
- Help you feel confident and calm about the safety of the classes in which you are now enrolled.
- Classes are safe: All current and past classes at SWC remain accredited; nothing has changed. We have not lost accreditation. Classes will transfer, count for an associate’s degrees, for certificates, licensure, work requirements, etc. Please don’t worry.
- You’re right, accreditation is critical. It is a federal process organized by geographic area. Each area has an official office that oversees each college’s accreditation. Our office is in Northern California. Here is the website for more information: http://www.accjc.org/
- College Standards are set by the accreditation system for every aspect of a college from curriculum (what is taught, how it is graded, etc.), hiring practices, campus policies, to financial aid and tutoring, etc.
- Possible Accreditation Outcomes: After the site visit, all evidence is reviewed by the Accrediting Office with a decision made about accreditation and provided in a final report. Outcomes may include:
- Re-accredited, nothing changes. In the past we have always been reaccredited with accommodations and recommendations for improvement made. This was normal for our college.
- Warning: This identifies that improvements are needed and specifies those. A timeline is given (usually a year or more) with a report due on progress. No site visit.
- Probation: This is what SWC received, and it means that improvements must be made, specifying both improvements and a timeline. This is a serious level of what is called a “sanction”. We must improve by the timeline or risk getting the next level of sanction, Show Cause.
- Show Cause: At this level, the college is a step away from losing accreditation. The college must prove that it should not lose accreditation.
- Accreditation withdrawn
- Dismantling of Shared Governance: Our community colleges have state law that requires the administration and governing board to listen to facultyinput. This is called Shared Governance. This has not happened, so it is an area that must improve.
- No Office of Research: Accreditation requires hard data on critical college functions, so every college must have an Office of Research. We have not had one since former President Norma Hernandez was in charge. Thus we could not get the research we needed for the SLO requirements, Academic Program Review, and many Curriculum tasks. This is an area that must improve.
Here is a list of other areas affected by the lack of Shared Governance to date: This Governing Board has approved Dr. Chopra’s dismantling of
- Office of Research
- Office of Instruction
- Office of Business and Fiscal Affairs
- Office of Human Resources
- Financial Aid Office
- Office of Admission
- Performing Arts Program
- Student Newspaper
- Outreach Office
- SWC Foundation
- Grant Writing Program (at a time when everyone is writing grants)
- Office of Research
So What Do We Do?For our college to recover, our Governing Board, President, and Vice-Presidents would have to establish a working environment of mutual respect. On campus we all need to be interested in working together in an environment of mutual trust and collaboration as our federal and state legislatures require. To date the President and voting majority has refused all input from our faculty at every Governing Board meeting since Norma Hernandez's departure. We went to the extreme measure of Votes of No Confidence, first in our College President last April 2009 and finally of our Governing Board. Typically, after a vote of No Confidence, a College President will resign soon afterward or the Governing Board will take action. Colleges don’t function under conditions of “No Confidence.” In reality, with our No Confidence Vote the faculty requested that the Board intercede and help us establish a relationship of mutual trust with our President. We were summarily ignored, which led to the No Confidence in the Board.
Only Board Members Nick Aguilar and Jorge Dominguez have listened and tried to intervene. But they are only a minority vote. We have been working in a triage environment under this Board, reacting to one poorly informed decision after another.Keep in mind there never has been a fiscal crisis at our college. Fiscal reports filed each year with our state Chancellor’s Office have shown this. There was no college to rescue from the brink of fiscal bankruptcy unless those reports were filed erroneously.
There is Good News: We have amazing faculty, classified staff, directors, and deans who understand how an award winning college must operate, because we are one despite our treatment under this current administrative regime. We can get back to where we were, but we need your help NOW.
- Contact your Governing Board Members of SWC and College President today and demand the change we must have in leadership. Use your voice and be heard.
- Write to the Union Tribune and Chula Vista Star about our needs.
- Stay informed and vote in the coming Nov. 2010 election when three Governing Board seats are up for election.
- Read more from our SaveOurSWC.blogspot.com.