Vice president says uncertainty over audits and majors caused the delay.
By Kyle R. Cotton
In April 2005, Dr. Eric Reno, retired Northeast Lakeview College president, told the San Antonio Express-News that the process for the college to achieve accreditation would take two years.
A decade later, Northeast Lakeview is still applying to become an accredited college.
Northeast Lakeview is going to receive its first on-site visit Feb. 22-25 from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges the accreditation agency for the Southeastern U.S.
Northeast Lakeview became its own campus in 2005 at 8300 Pat Booker Road where the Alamo Colleges’ University Center sits now.
In 2007, the college moved to its current campus at 1604 Kitty Hawk Road.
President Craig Follins described the visit as a big step for his college.
“Since we’ve started the process of accreditation, we’ve never gotten to the on-site visit portion of the process,” Follins said. “It’s a bit of a milestone for us.”
Follins said if the visit goes well, the college should be elevated to candidacy in June at the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission’s bi-annual committee meeting, and he would expect a decision on the college’s accreditation in 2017, a full decade after the college started operating on its own campus.
Until Northeast Lakeview is accredited, the majority of courses taught there are offered through San Antonio College and overseen by this college’s department chairs.
According to SACSCOC’s website, it typically takes four years for an institution to be accredited by its association.
Items missing from the application are what usually keep institutes from being accredited within that timeframe, SACSCOC spokesperson Pamela Cravey said Monday in a telephone interview.
Dr. Debbie Hamilton, vice president of student success at Northeast Lakeview, said the college made two previous applications for accreditation in 2007 and 2011.
Hamilton said, with the initial 2007 application for accreditation, the general accounting principles SACSCOC requires had changed for Alamo Colleges.
Previously, while the district maintained individual accreditation for each of the colleges, it reported a combined audit to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and SACSCOC, said Dr. Thomas Cleary, vice chancellor of planning, performance and information systems.
Cleary said the change in SACSCOC accounting principles for audits cost the district a year trying to readjust the report.
“There was no way they (Northeast Lakeview) was going to be accredited,” Cleary said, referring to 2007.
Cleary said that since the college had just moved into the new campus, officials didn’t have all the items in place to achieve accreditation.
In the 2011 process, Hamilton said Northeast Lakeview was asked to provide more information about the majors it provides and program outcomes.
She said the college had not gathered that data at the program level, which led to the districtwide discussion of majors that ended up with their removal from the other Alamo College campuses in favor of concentrations and advising guides that went into effect in April 2014.
Hamilton said Follins, who became president in March 2014, pulled back the initial third application for accreditation so that they could “make it a little bit more robust.”
Officials included program-learning outcomes for degrees: an associate of arts in teaching, an associate of arts, and an associate of applied science.
They did this by taking existing documentation of learning outcomes of the individual courses at the student level and examining the direct and indirect effect on the program from those courses, particularly with the “six general educational competencies” listed by the state, Hamilton said.
The six general educational competencies are the basic skills students must demonstrate before they graduate. The competencies are critical thinking, effective communication, teamwork, quantitative skills, personal and shared responsibility.
“Our faculty did a lot of work around that, and we submitted that application,” Hamilton said. “We feel that pulling back and making it more robust was the piece that helped us get the site visit.”