By Erica McCauley / Staff Writer
By Erica McCauley / Staff Writer
Riverside City College is under sanction from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, a part of the Western Association of Junior Colleges.
According to RCC’s Vice President of Academic Affairs Patrick Schwerdtfeger, the warning the college has received is “the least egregious of the possible recommendations from the commission.”
Currently there are more schools under sanction than ever before, proof that the accrediting commission is serious about enforcing its standards.
But what went wrong for RCC?
Last October, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges sent an evaluation team to visit RCC.
This evaluation team found deficiencies in the college’s planning process and gave RCC recommendations on how to correct these issues.
According to a letter to RCC President Jan Muto from the commission, which can be found on the college’s Accreditation Web site, the recommendations were:
1. That RCC create a more comprehensive mission statement including educational goals, and a description of the student population for which the college is designing programs.
2. That RCC develop a process of reviewing the success of its programs and how these programs work to accomplish institutional goals.
Further, RCC is to assess this newly created process once it is implemented, and report the results to all constituents to promote institutional effectiveness and identify areas of improvement.
The college was issued a warning from the commission to ensure that the aforementioned deficiencies are corrected. The college is required to complete a follow-up report by October 15.
Muto and other members of the administration met with the accrediting commission in January to present a stream-lined strategic planning report.
It was comprised of various, existing documents RCC has already been using for planning purposes.
Strategic planning has a simple definition according to Schwerdtfeger.
“Strategic planning is the vehicle by which and through which we plan for our future,” he said.
After the commission reviewed the reconfigured report, Muto was able to give a short speech in which she defended the college and provided her vision for the future of RCC.
However, rules are still rules.
Under U.S. Department of Education regulations, an institution out of compliance with standards has up to two years to correct deficiencies before the commission must take action to terminate accreditation.
The commission gave RCC an extension on the time allowed (RCC was first issued this recommendation in fall 2007), but requires RCC to correct deficiencies by the next visit this fall when the two year time limit is up.
Schwerdtfeger stressed that the warning “does not affect in any way student transcripts or the validity of education,” which could be a major concern of students, especially those transferring or graduating.
“The accreditation process is an effort to continually be better,” he said. “Evaluation helps to improve what we do and how we do it.”
When asked what exactly administration was doing in response to the commission’s recommendations, he said the administration was “close to being finished with the strategic plan and already implementing it.”
The mission statement has been “redone” as well.
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges requires that all reports be made available to students and the public.
Riverside City College has created an accreditation Web site that provides more information about the process of accreditation, including documents and letters from the Accrediting Commission.
A video featuring Muto highlights RCC’s strategic plan in detail and can also be found on the Web site.
In light of the unsatisfactory accreditation status of the college, administration is focused on proactively meeting the demands of the commission.
With the many changes being made, the administration hopes that the college will pass the follow-up report with flying colors in October.
“I have 100 percent certainty that RCC will address the concerns of the commission… All is well,” Schwerdtferger said.
For more information about the accreditation of RCC and to view any of the documents RCC received visit: http://www.rcc.edu/riverside/accreditation.