Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Southwestern College on Probation

The just-released accreditation report from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) reveals that Southwestern College has been placed "on probation" for ten different violations of educational standards.

ACCJC is a sub-group of WASC, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, one of six regional associations that accredit public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S.

For any educational institution, accreditation is essential. It ensures government funding, the availability of financial aid for students, and the transferability of courses. More importantly, accreditation serves as quality control, assuring the public that an educational institution is sound.

Loss of accreditation is rare, and the process of losing accreditation has several levels and steps. The first is "warning." The second is "probation," which applies to SWC. In this case, the college will have until this October to address five of the issues and until May 2011 to address the rest. For a summary of the areas needing improvement, see the ACCJC Action Letter.

The college held the first of several planned "Town Hall" meetings this evening at 5:00. While we're not sure what a town hall meeting entails, this certainly felt more like a press conference. Superintendent/President Raj K. Chopra spoke briefly and optimistically about how the report represents an "opportunity" and how "the glass is half full." Academic Senate President Valerie Goodwin-Colbert was more forthcoming about how the college's own self-study had identified problem areas, though she also stressed a positive "let's do this" approach.

Dean of Instructional Support Services, Mink Stavenga (as newly-appointed accreditation liaison), then took center stage and fielded most of the audience's (often pointed) questions.

There will be additional "Town Hall" meetings on both the main and satellite campuses:

The next scheduled forum on the
Chula Vista campus will take place

Thursday, February 4, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. to noon

Student Union East (Cafeteria)

Additional meetings will be held at the Higher Education Centers as follows:

National City: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 1:00 p.m.

San Ysidro: Thursday, February 4, 2010 8:30 a.m.

Otay Mesa: Friday, February 5, 2010 8:30 a.m.

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