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Ventura County

Accrediting Commission Warns College

Education: State panel says Ventura campus' annual report lacked information on school's improvements and contained sections that were identical to its 1998 document.

July 18, 2002|MARGARET TALEV and AMANDA COVARRUBIAS | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Ventura College received a warning last month from a California accrediting commission for submitting a report that did not include up-to-date information on its hiring improvements.

College President Larry Calderon also was notified in a June 19 letter from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges that some portions of his school's 2002 report were identical to those in its 1998 report.

Although the 25,000-student college showed improvements in hiring practices and other areas, those changes were not contained in the latest report submitted in March, the Santa Rosa-based commission stated.

The college's executive vice president, Joan Smith, said the report was submitted by her predecessor and she did not know why he excluded information or why he recycled old material.

Calderon was not available Wednesday for comment.

"Many sections appeared to be copied directly from the college's 1998 Midterm Report, giving the commission little information about what progress may have been made since 1998," the warning letter stated.

Smith, who assumed her post last month, said she is working with faculty, administrators and the Academic Senate president on next year's report, which will be submitted in April, when an accreditation team visits all three campuses in the Ventura County Community College District.

"I am very, very confident this will not be an issue," Smith said. "The commission said we made improvements; it just wasn't reflected in the report. But it will be done and we will be off the warning."

A warning is the least serious action administered by the commission, which accredits colleges every six years.

All campuses in the state community college system are required to be accredited, which means they have been self-evaluated and independently scrutinized by a team of experts on all aspects of campus life, including student services, instruction, finances and governance.

An accreditation team presents recommendations to improve the school. Those improvements are usually outlined in a report submitted by the campus president.

"It is the view of the commission and the visiting team that the college did not take seriously its responsibility to the commission for thoughtful and thorough response to the previous recommendations," the letter stated, "nor did the report present accurately a description of college programs and services as required by commission standards."

The commission made 10 recommendations in 1998, including that the college should conduct a comprehensive review of its hiring procedures to ensure the highest quality and diversity among faculty, classified staff and administrators.

Such procedures and policies are already in place across the district, Smith said, but they were not included in the latest progress report.

"I think what they were trying to say is the district is doing its job, and the commission wants to see it in writing," she said.

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