At the end of the Higher Learning Commission’s site visit to PCC last month, team chair Dr. Luis G. Pedraja noted the “Herculean effort” put forth by the College in conducting our Institutional Self-Study. So it was appropriate that Provost Dr. Erica Holmes (above) and I thank the people who did the Self-Study’s heavy lifting – the 300 College employees and community members who served on our Self-Study committees, and in many cases are still working to improve the College.
Several dozen people gathered last week at our 29th Street Coalition Center to hear Dr. Holmes and I share information about the site visit, describe PCC’s ongoing efforts to instill a culture of continuous improvement, and talk about next steps in the process. Most of all, we wanted to express our gratitude to those folks who put in long hours and made considerable personal sacrifices to make the Self-Study such a powerful instrument for improving the College.
PCC has made great progress installing new processes and structures to address the concerns of the HLC. However, as the Self Study process has been compressed into an 18-month time frame (the typical Self Study takes two to three years), it’s difficult for us to demonstrate that our changes are bearing fruit.
So our work to improve PCC continues even after submission of the Self Study Report and the visit of the HLC evaluation team. As Dr. Holmes noted, we have formed nine Fast Action Teams addressing a variety of topics. The teams are working quickly but deliberately to strengthen our compliance with HLC standards.
PCC soon will receive the report with the evaluation team’s findings. In November, PCC will submit corrections to any errors of fact such as erroneous timelines or data. We also will submit an institutional response report describing our ongoing reaccreditation efforts.
On December 9, I and four other PCC leaders will be in Chicago to take part in a final round of discussions during a hearing of the HLC’s Institutional Actions Council. Dr. Pedraja also will attend the meeting.
On December 11, Governing Board Chair David Longoria and I will lead an information session for the College community and the public regarding our impressions of the meeting with the HLC.
By the end of February the HLC Board will make its determination, and we should be notified of our status in early March.
As I have said in the past, I told the audience at our 29th Street Center that I am optimistic we will be taken off probation. Also, I said we likely will be under close monitoring by the HLC for remainder of the decade. And I said that is a good thing. Of course, PCC must meet HLC standards. But we need to aim higher – our goal should be to be one of the best community colleges in the nation. As long as we keep our focus on meeting the needs and expectations of our diverse students and community, we can succeed in a truly Herculean goal – becoming a premier community college.