School’s Accreditation Warning Lifted

Vanessa Duffy

The Glendale College accreditation warning is currently lifted but the school must still address four important issues in six months or it will lose educational credibility and student’s credits may not be transferable.

The four final issues to resolve include: strengthening program review and resource allocation processes, which will ensure the timeliness of reports; develop student learning outcome (SLO) assessments; ensure safety of technology (overheating servers); and revise the retirement funding plan for long-term employees.

“None of these issues are internal operations,” said Jill Lewis, GCC’s accreditation liaison officer. “It’s housekeeping that we need to take care of and I believe we have a grip on it.”

 “Housekeeping” isn’t as easy as it may sound. It took several school committees and a unanimous effort on behalf of the departments and staff to really get this ball rolling.

 “It’s really scary to be the first college president when there is a sanction,” said Dawn Lindsay, superintendent of the school. She credits a lot of her reassurance to the “incredible” faculty who she says pretty much started focusing on these issues the minute the accreditation commission left the campus.

 According to Lewis and Lindsay, the main reason for initially losing accreditation was because the school’s cycle wasn’t finished by the time the commission visited.

 “We created a year-long cycle for the school but there were still three months left by the time [the commission] came in April,” said Lindsay. Therefore, the school had to prove that it was indeed on track.

 “The commission will let a CEO talk at a conference for only five minutes,” said Lewis. “[Lindsay] flew out to San Francisco to do that and must have really made an impression.”

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges first visited the campus in 2004 where it determined what areas needed improvement. Since then, the school has reduced the number of the commission’s recommendations from 10 to four.

When the commission met again in June, it took action to remove the warning and reaffirm accreditation due to the school’s rapid response to previous recommendations. 

“I’m so glad because otherwise I would have transferred to a different school,” said freshman Ashley Perez, health science major. “I want my diploma to mean something and I don’t want to be blown off by potential universities or jobs.”

Students would not only face hardships in transferring to a university from an unaccredited school but there would also be financial disadvantages. Schools that are not accredited are not eligible for financial aid or federal funding, such as grants and the Board of Governors fee waiver.

 The commission reviews regional campus reports every six years but new standards were created in 2002. 

“Now we needed to show evidence [of meeting standards] where before we could just say ‘yeah we did it’,” said Lindsay. “The commission gave [the school] the option to stick the old standard (a more vague explanation of meeting standards) or convert to the new one. They opted for what they were familiar with which was just postponing the pain.”

Although the decision to report to the old standards was not hers, Lindsay has been working with the school’s institutional planning coordinating committee. The group meets twice a week to plan and discuss how to meet the final recommendations.


The college’s prospective strategies must be reported by March 15, 2012 or the commission will terminate accreditation.


Lewis said the school is diligently working to reconcile the final issues despite lack of specificity in the recommendations.


“We are moving forward like a freight train on student learning outcomes,” said Lewis. “We sent Sarah McLemore (English Division) as a SLO representative to the academy at the Western Association of Schools and College (WASC). There couldn’t have been a better representative; she is the energizer bunny of the school.”


“I’m drawn to student learning outcomes and assessment and program review because I see these issues as opportunities which are vitally connected to teaching, learning and curriculum development,” said McLemore. “The WASC assessment academy has helped me develop ideas and best practices which can help GCC develop reasonable and sustainable means of assessing student learning.”


With this knowledge, the college produced a number of workshops for the faculty on program review and student learning outcomes, according to Lewis. “[The faculty] went in with nothing and came out with a complete timeline which will go in our report.”


Student learning outcomes are important to the commission because it wants to understand what the instructors expect their students to walk away with.


“The commission wants an analysis of how [the school] will modify SLO at a course level, program level and on an institutional level,” said Lewis.


With regard to GCC’s infamous technical issues, the school hired a new associate vice president for information technologies, Wayne Keller.


“We are giving high priority to the overheating servers,” said Keller. “The primary reason for this issue is that there are only two 15-year-old air conditioners cooling this huge server room.”


Keller admits that his biggest challenge is working with department’s budget. “I’m evaluating every expense and looking at how to renegotiate or cancel contracts, and enhancing our equipment. I’ll be doing a lot of allocating,” he said.


The most difficult recommendation to fulfill is the retirement funding for long-term employees according to Lewis.


“The commission doesn’t specify how they want us to improve this,” said Lewis.


The comission will hold a conference in San Francisco in October, which Lewis plans to attend, to go more in depth on each recommendation to help schools meet the proficiency level.