Accreditation Presents Challenges to College

Agnes Constante

Due to inadequate funding, nine areas of improvement have been identified for the college, which, if left unaddressed, could result in a warning sanction from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

As an accredited institution, GCC meets or surpasses the standards of quality set by the commission. Only such institutions qualify for federal funds, and only students enrolled in these schools are eligible for federal financial aid.

Some of the areas in which GCC needs improvement include a shortage of maintenance staff and lack of a regular budget for information and technology services.

“Several of these things involve [money, and] this is a really difficult situation we have with our finances,” said John Queen, president of the Academic Senate, who chaired the accreditation steering committee and was an editor of the self-study report Glendale submitted to the commission.

The college received recommendations from the commission and expects to hear from it by the end of June, at which time it hopes to receive reaffirmation of its accreditation. If the commission finds further problems, it may place Glendale on a low-level sanction.

Before a post-secondary institution can lose accreditation, it is placed on levels of sanctions: a warning, probation and “show cause.”

A warning is the least problematic sanction. This is issued if the commission finds that a college has followed a course that strays away from the commission’s requirements, standards or policies to a degree that concerns the commission.

If an institution fails to address issues presented in a warning or “deviates significantly” from the standards and requirements set by the commission but not to a point where it deserves a higher level of sanction or to be stripped of its accreditation, it may be put on probation.

Should the commission find an institution “to be in substantial non-compliance” with its standards and requirements, or when the institution does not address the problems identified by the commission in earlier sanctions, it may ask the school to show cause. This is the highest sanction level and requires for the college to demonstrate why it should not lose its accreditation.

During these sanctions institutions remain accredited. They are given a time frame within which they must resolve their issues, and are subject to status reports and visits by the commission. The frequency of these is decided by the commission.

In its evaluation report for Glendale, the commission also made other recommendations, including: strengthening the links between the program review, planning and resource allocation processes; accelerating efforts to implement “student learning outcomes,” which tests students for skills or retention of class content; ensuring that all major policies, such as the process what to do in the event of sexual harassment and the Academic Freedom Policy, affecting students are published in an accessible manner by printing them in publications like the catalog; completing all overdue employee performance evaluations; using the Equal Employment Opportunity ethnic categories in order ensure diversity of faculty and staff; taking necessary steps to ensure the safety of the network servers so the computer system doesn’t shut down due to overheating; and developing and implementing a plan for funding its long-term employee liability, or retirement benefits, which may not be associated with a pension plan, under Governmental Accounting Standards Board.

Of the issues identified by the commission, the college has addressed the publication of major policies in an accessible manner, submitted employee performance evaluations and reported the ethnicities of employees to meet Equal Employment Opportunity requirements. Queen expects the school to take steps to ensure safety of the computer servers soon.

The other issues are expected to take more time to deal with, such as the implementation of student learning outcome assessment measures.

“We’re waiting to implement some software, which will allow us to collect and sort data for the student learning outcomes . which we’re expecting in August. Then we should be able to really start moving rapidly forward with [student learning outcomes] implementation,” Queen said.

At present, the campus budget does not have a set allocation of funds for the development of information and technology. Due to fiscal shortages, this issue is expected to take longer before it can be dealt with.

Inadequate funds also contribute to the lack of staffing levels for maintenance, custodians and security personnel. The evaluation report stated that there is a “lack of security between the hours of midnight and [6 a.m.]” and has requested that Glendale address this issue.

“We’ve been aware of [the lack of staffing] for awhile, it’s just that the problem has been money,” said Queen.

The issue of strengthening links between the program review, planning and resource allocation processes will be tackled during the summer and is already being discussed among leadership on campus, according to Queen.

The implementing of a plan for funding the liability of post-employment benefits requires negotiations between the faculty and staff unions, so it may take more time before this item is fixed.

Despite the multiple areas of improvement for Glendale, the college was commended for several aspects, including its governance, which brings people from various areas on campus to work together to propose new policies. This system comprises committees composed of students, faculty members, classified employees and administration. According to Queen, the college received no recommendations in this area.

The commission also cited improvements in the college’s budget and financial management, and was impressed with its quality of instruction and support services for students.

The commission visited the Glendale campus from March 15 through 18.

Further information on the accreditation of community colleges is available at