SACSCOC decision expected Dec. 5

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Three Alamo Colleges are awaiting re-affirmation and one accreditation — finally.

Zachary-Taylor Wright

zwright9@student.alamo.edu

This college’s accreditation status will be announced at a Dec. 5 Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges business meeting, where this college’s SACSOC membership could be revoked for failure to comply with Principles of Accreditation.

That is one of four potential outcomes.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges meets for an annual conference Dec. 2-5, where the accreditation status of this college, St. Philip’s College and Northwest Vista College will be decided.

At the Dec. 5 meeting in Fort Worth, the SACSCOC board of trustees may reaffirm the colleges’ accreditation and remove the warning status currently in effect, deny the colleges’ reaffirmation and continue accreditation with a warning status, deny the colleges’ reaffirmation and place the colleges on probation or remove the colleges from SACSCOC membership.

The three colleges were denied reaffirmation and placed on warning status December 2016 after a site visit in September 2016.

SACSCOC found the colleges in violation of six Comprehensive Standards, including developing a clear distinction between the policy-making board and the administrators who implement policy, developing and distributing “academic policies that adhere to principles of good educational practice” to students and faculty, developing policy for accepting transfer credits, and placing primary responsibility for curriculum with faculty.

These standards were violated through dominant district branding, the inclusion of FranklinCovey curriculum materials in board policy, handling of transfer credits, and the calculation of districtwide grade-point averages as if the district was a college.

Many of the violations stemmed from Dr. Bruce Leslie’s attempts to create one college of the district’s five colleges shortly after arriving at the district in November 2006.

According to The Ranger, the board established an Accreditation Review Committee to study the affects of single accreditation versus individual accreditation in late 2009.

The Accreditation Review Committee presented findings to the board Jan. 26, 2010, saying St. Philip’s College would lose about $7 million in Title 3B grants they receive as a historically black college and Hispanic-serving institution.

In a Jan. 26, 2010, meeting, Leslie said the board may want to revisit the accreditation system if the HBCU or Hispanic-serving institution status is revoked in the future.

The board struck all mention of the FranklinCovey “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” from student-oriented policy at the Dec. 13, 2016, board meeting but retained the material in reference to faculty and staff training. The original policy was adopted in 2011.

Board policy B.5.1, board responsibilities, still states the board should “approve courses and curricula for inclusion in educational programs of the colleges.”

Accreditation calls for all curriculum decisions to be made by faculty.

The board announced its decision to add an assumed name “Alamo Colleges District” to board policy and alter signage in rebranding efforts to satisfy the accrediting agency at a press conference Jan. 13.

The district and college websites now identify the district as the “Alamo Colleges District,” and this college’s sign on San Pedro Avenue has been altered to include the new term.

However, policy such as B.5.1 and B.3.3 still refer to the district as the “Alamo Colleges.” The legal name of the district remains the Alamo Community College District.

The change came when Leslie pushed for sublimating the district’s profile in the community by ignoring the individual colleges’ long-standing profiles.

Northeast Lakeview College has not been accredited since opening 11 years ago and the college’s status will be determined Dec. 5.

In an interview Dec. 1, President Robert Vela said he is “very confident” the college is in “great shape” for reaffirmation from SACSCOC based on the quality of the report sent to the organization, saying the report addressed all the recommendations made by SACSCOC.

“Of course, SACSCOC will have to evaluate, adjudicate, and we’ll have to wait for that outcome,” Vela said.

In an interview Nov. 22, Dr. Tiffany Cox Hernandez, public policy and service department chair, said President Robert Vela claimed the SACSCOC board decision will come out the evening of Dec. 4, and the college would send out an email within a day or two announcing the decision.

Vela made that announcement at an Oct. 10 College Council meeting.

In an interview Dec. 1, Vela said SACSCOC members usually talk to college presidents prior to the official announcement as a courtesy.

Vela said he would probably know the four colleges’ accreditation status by Dec. 3 or 4, but he could not make a formal announcement until Dec. 5 after the SACSCOC business meeting.

SACSCOC policy states “Commission staff will not speculate on what decision might be made by the SACSCOC’s board of trustees in December.”

Dr. Pamela Carvey, coordinator of communications and external affairs for SACSCOC, said college presidents or executive teams may be informed of SACSCOC decisions prior to the meeting but decisions are not official until after the Dec. 5 business meeting.

“It goes on for a lot of days,” Carvey said. “It’s very serious. We take it very seriously.”

Vela said no members of this college’s executive team would be presenting during the four-day conference, but seven members of this college’s administrators will attend workshops at the conference.

Vela said each college and the district are allowed to invite five-seven administrators to the conference, and seven members of this college’s executive team will attend.

Dr. Lisa Zottarelli, SACSCOC liaison for this college, said SACSCOC would publically announce decisions for each college in the region Dec. 5 at the business meeting.

She said the colleges will be projected onto a screen and organized by SACSCOC decision.

In an interview Nov. 27, Vanessa Torres, director of public relations at this college, said the communications department at this college is working with district communications to determine how to inform students and employees of the Dec. 5 decisions.

She said this is a district matter because all Alamo Colleges, except Palo Alto College, will receive some result during the SACSCOC meeting.

Torres said the college will have the SACSCOC results by Dec. 5, and the college would like to notify students and employees of the results by that afternoon of Dec. 5 or the morning of Dec. 6.

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