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July 16, 2014

Merced College’s accreditation affirmed

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has reaffirmed Merced College’s full accreditation status without sanction. That’s a year with a clean record for the school that was threatened with sanctions going back to 2011.

Officials at Merced College said another stamp of approval from a regulatory commission this month means staff will be free to move forward with improvements at the school.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges reaffirmed the college’s full accreditation status without sanction. Until this time last year, the college had been on warning status from the commission since the summer of 2011.

“In essence, it’s a clean bill of health based on last year’s work,” said Ron Taylor, president of the college.

In a June 3 letter to Taylor, the commission said Merced College “has sustained the efforts reported in 2012 and 2013 to comply with standards, and has addressed the recommendations from the 2011 comprehensive evaluation.”

Taylor said the commission called for improvements at Merced College in five areas: program review, planning and resource allocation, communication, human resources and governing board development.

Some of the recommendations called for a clearer delegation of authority or further training for the school’s board of trustees. Some of the report’s findings were related to the assessments and expectations professors have for their students.

“We (continue) to meet all standards and we will continue to monitor that we’re doing so across the board,” he said.

The standards that the college is charged with meeting were set in 2002. Now that the college is caught up on its evaluations, Taylor said, it will continue to improve all of the processes.

Susan Walsh, who oversaw the report submitted to the commission, said the reporting process for program review is a “meticulous” one. Program review requires yearly assessments from school faculty on their teaching processes and student outcomes.

She said future reporting should be easier and better streamlined for faculty and staff.

Merced College’s Academic Senate was involved in pushing the importance of program review with the college faculty, said Dee Sigismond, senate president.

Having to write the annual reports on top of the duties of a college professor can be stressful, she said. “The faculty have put in a lot of time and a lot of effort,” she said.

Merced College is expected to submit a self-evaluation in preparation for its next comprehensive review in March 2017.

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