Accreditation group deems college a ‘solid institution’

Campus operations evaluated by team of state officials

Cody Casares / The Advocate
Sylvia Thomas, associate vice chancellor of educational services and the visting team chairperson, spoke with faculty and students during three accreditation open forums held in HS-101 from Oct. 7-9.

By Roxana Amparo, News Editor

Students and faculty had the opportunity to talk with the accreditation team evaluating the college in a series of public forums last week.

The students and faculty shared their experiences at the college with the accreditation team and received positive feedback based on the overall evaluation of the college, in HS-101 last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The Accreditation External Evaluation Team was sent by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to provide insight on how the college can efficiently meet its own goals and standards outlined in the Institutional Self Evaluation Report, as well as the accreditation standards set by the federal government.

Accreditation is a system of self-regulation developed by higher education institutions to evaluate the overall quality of any given institution and encourage its continual improvement. Accreditation standards represent the best practices in higher education and set expectations for institutions to meet every seven years.

During the first two forums, the team opened the floor to students and faculty to share their personal experiences while at Contra Costa College. Chairperson of the Accreditation External Evaluation Team Sylvia Thomas said that the purpose of the open forums was for the accreditation team to hear about the college from those who teach and learn here every day.

The final forum allowed the Accreditation External Evaluation Team to provide valuable feedback regarding how the college develops future self evaluation reports and meets accreditation standards.
“You have a gem here,” Thomas said. “CCC is a solid institution with exemplary individuals, students and programs.”

The overall feedback from the accreditation team validated the college for its work since the last external evaluation seven years ago. However, the team still must submit its formal report to the ACCJC to determine if CCC is officially accredited or not. The college will have the results by February 2015 through a letter from the ACCJC.

Throughout the last seven years, the college has worked toward improving and accomplishing its set accreditation standards. But Thomas believes the college has gone above and beyond the call.
“You undersold yourselves. You are doing so much more,” she said. She added that CCC is a college that she would want her son to go to.

A member of the accreditation team, Mark Greenhalgh from Fullerton College, said that he enjoyed his time at the college and how welcoming the environment felt.

Alpha Gamma Sigma honor society President Brenda Vega said she is proud to be part of a college that made such a strong impression.

“I think that all that (the accreditation team) said was true — we are a big family, we are friendly and our faculty is full of wonderful people,” Vega said.

Contemporary issues with the college were acknowledged, such as the enrollment decline and the ongoing construction, but it was recognized that CCC continues to push forward regardless of its situation.
The accreditation team was “surprised at the lack of grumbling” going around because of the construction, Thomas said.

CCC has the ability to oversee the issues and focus on the bigger picture — making the most of unfavorable odds is a part of the community that students and faculty have grown used to.

Thomas said that they collected information from around 71 sources, including students and several district members, to provide them with precise information regarding the college.

HSI STEM Coordinator Kelly Ramos said that the college is part of her community and has been a big presence in her life for many years.

Speech department professor and Chairperson Sherry Diestler described the deep level of care that every professor she works with has for their students and that she is honored to be a part of the CCC community. The team gave a special acknowledgment to college President Denise Noldon and Senior Dean of Instruction Donna Floyd for their hospitality, as well as the culinary students who provided the team with an early breakfast during its visit.