Accreditation Preparations Are Underway for 2010

Amy Hirsch

Major preparations continue behind the scenes as the college readies for a comprehensive accreditation site visit in March.

Because of the great importance to meet accreditation standards, much time and effort has been put into the preparation for this evaluation, which is held every six years.

Jill Lewis, program manager for accreditation, explained that accreditation is voluntary.

“At GCC, our accrediting agency is the ACCJC, which stands for the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.” she said. The agency is a subdivision of WASC, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Glendale applies to be reaffirmed every six years.

According to Lewis, “Our next site visit is scheduled for March 15. A team of 10 or 11 people come for three to four days. The team is composed of our peers.” The evaluating team is chaired by a college president and includes administrators and faculty.

For more than a year prior to the visit, a detailed accreditation self-study document has been in preparation to show that “we are providing the instruction that meets or exceeds the standards for quality and to insure continuous institutional improvement,” said Lewis.

Lewis explained that “the self-study document is written by the accreditation steering committee, with teams to develop and work on all the elements of the report. The four standards include institutional mission and effectiveness; student learning programs and services; human, physical, technological and financial resources; and finally, leadership and governance.”

Lewis noted, “The report has required work by a large number of people: administrators, faculty, classified employees and students. We were meeting once a week but now we have increased to twice per week. It’s a lot of work, we have to prove how we meet the standards and how we evaluate, plan, and make improvements. The board of trustees has to approve the document, then it is printed and sent to the commission.”

Lewis explained that the accreditation team will study the document prior to their visit when “they meet with all sorts of groups on campus . administrators, the unions, faculty groups including the academic senate, student groups, classified employees and anyone they choose to speak with. They are looking for reaffirmation that we are really doing what we say we are doing in that document.”

John Queen, president of the academic senate and professor of political science, has had primary responsibility for completion of the self-study document in his position as chair of the accreditation steering committee.

“We are talking about a 350 to 400 page document that we are putting together about the college,” said Queen. “The accreditation commission has become a lot stricter in enforcing its standards . I’m confident that we will be re-accredited . but I wouldn’t be surprised if they say we have to make improvements.”

Following the last site visit reaffirming GCC accreditation in 2004, the ACCJC sent an action letter containing four focused recommendations. This document requested work in the areas of long range planning and budget allocation for IT and learning resources, greater employee and faculty diversity, development of a comprehensive educational master plan, and evaluation of retirement benefit liabilities. Details can be found at college sends an annual progress report to the commission; every three years a more detailed midterm report is required.

Information on the ACCJC Web site,, indicates that over the past year accreditation was reaffirmed for five colleges, but seven (including PCC) were given a warning, two (including LACC) were placed on probation, and four received a continued warning.

“What does accreditation do for us?” said Lewis. “Mostly it assures the public that we provide quality programs and services. It certifies that the institution meets or exceeds the commission’s standards. It also assures that our course credits, certificates and degrees are transferable. Thirdly, it establishes eligibility for student financial aid. It provides a process for continuous improvement that we can show the public.

“We will be advising the campus that the commission is coming – we will have open forums beginning in October where faculty, students and employees can come to listen and speak if they wish,” said Lewis.

On the final day of the site visit, an open meeting will be held in the auditorium and the team chair will give a verbal report to the college as to a general idea of their findings.

According to Lewis, “A detailed report will take some time, with an evaluation letter from the team, then an action letter from the commission will be sent indicating whether accreditation has been reaffirmed or whether sanctions – either warning or probation – are being imposed.”

The draft of the accreditation self-study document can be accessed at