By now everyone has probably heard the great news that our two colleges received word last Friday that their accreditation was reaffirmed for another six years. A team of peers visited each college last fall to review the progress made over the last six years and to assure the public that the quality of education at both institutions was being maintained per the accreditation standards. Like a clean financial audit, a reaffirmation decision does not occur by accident. There is an enormous amount of work that occurs during that six-year accreditation cycle and it intensifies even more in the time leading up to the comprehensive visit. Everyone at the colleges, and to a certain extent the district office, contributes to the accreditation effort. Of course, the level of contributions and effort varies greatly, but the point is that accreditation is an enormous undertaking and obligation and it takes a majority pulling in the same direction to get the result that our two colleges achieved.
The reaffirmation decision speaks to the positive culture at our two colleges in regard to serving students. It speaks to our ability to assess and analyze our performance at various levels and to take that information and apply it toward improvement efforts. It speaks to dedicated faculty and staff who are willing to "go that extra mile" for students. It also speaks to capable and involved leadership at our two colleges. Although many individuals made important contributions to the accreditation process, one of the most critical contributions was by our two presidents, Erlinda Martinez and John Weispfenning. They took the time to thoughtfully respond in writing to the draft team reports and pointed out errors, omissions, and shortcomings of those reports. Further, they both committed their time to travel to Sacramento and relay these thoughts in person to the Commission. As a member of the Commission, I had to recuse myself from involvement in the decisions concerning SAC and SCC. However, I received sufficient informal comments from my colleagues on the Commission to know that the comments provided by Erlinda and John made a positive impact on the Commissioners and certainly contributed to the positive result that we all wanted. Congratulations to everyone at SAC and SCC on this wonderful accomplishment!
Applied Baccalaureate Degree
It is common knowledge now that Santa Ana College was selected to be one of the 15 programs in the new Applied Baccalaureate Degree Pilot Program. What is not common knowledge is that there still may be some adjustments made to the 15 that were selected. That is, the Chancellor’s Office representatives are going to visit all 15 college sites to verify the information in the applications. Based on that assessment, one or more of the selected colleges could be replaced. The CSU system will also have a chance to weigh in on the 15 finalists and there could be a change based on that review as well. So what this means is that it is not a done deal yet, although I believe our Occupational Studies/ Occupational Therapy Assistant program is strong and will pass whatever level of scrutiny is applied.
Being one of the 15 selected is an honor and an exciting opportunity because of what it will mean to our students and to our community. However, this success would not have been possible without the efforts of a number of individuals. First, I don't believe that we would have mustered the effort to make the December deadline if it had not been for the persistence of our Board of Trustees. In particular, Trustees Hanna and Alvarez pushed hard for BP 4026 Baccalaureate Degree Programs. Although that policy was somewhat controversial, its passage did escalate the dialogue on this issue and, in the end, brought all of the pertinent parties together. Of course, Michelle Parolise, who is the lead instructor in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program, is the person who volunteered her program, made a convincing case for it, and did a tremendous job in compiling all of the necessary information. Michelle was supported in this endeavor by Bonnie Jaros, who did her usual stellar job in assisting in the writing and organization of the proposal. John Zarske, Bart Hoffman and Omar Torres also supported this effort with various and important contributions. All in all it was a team effort and Santa Ana College is making history because of it.
Congratulations to Board Vice President Larry Labrado for running a successful campaign and handily winning his re-election bid to the Board of Trustees. Congratulations should also go to Trustees John Hanna and Phil Yarbrough who were re-elected as well although they had no opposition and did not have to mount a campaign.
All the best,