Tag Archives: transparency

Report validates our progress on accreditation

I am pleased to report that we have received the Draft Feedback Report from the Higher Learning Commission’s Peer Review Team, who recommended removing the College from sanctions in 10 of the 11 areas of concern.  And while they determined that one area required the College to remain “On Notice” for an additional six months, our work earned praise and recognition.

In fact, the Report validates every effort we have made to strengthen Pima’s commitment to students and the community.

As you know, while remaining fully accredited, the College was “On Notice” as we addressed 11 areas of focus where the HLC, the College’s accrediting body, thought we could easily slip out of compliance with accrediting standards.

Following review of considerable documentation and an intensive September Focused Visit, the Peer Reviewers, who are college leaders from across the country, concurred that PCC made significant progress and fully addressed the concerns of the Commission in five areas of focus.  That is outstanding news.  It allows us to move forward with no need for monitoring.

In five other areas, Reviewers complimented the College on its work and acknowledged the strong foundation built in each area, but believed we needed additional time to provide evidence of effectiveness. As we expected, those areas were recommended for additional monitoring, but there was no recommendation of a sanction, and of those, only one required HLC follow up. Again, more good news.

In only one area, regarding assessment of student learning outcomes, the Peer Reviewers thought the “evidence of effectiveness was insufficient” enough for the college to remain “On Notice” for an additional six months, until Sept. 1, 2017.

Specifically, Reviewers want to see the College complete hiring of two critical assessment positions, a Director of Assessment reporting to the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Accreditation and Academic Quality Improvement, and a Research Analyst reporting to the Director of Assessment. The extra time gives the College the opportunity to complete the hires and to allow these individuals to develop goals, strategies and tactics. We are firmly on track; an offer has been made to a candidate for the Director’s position and interviews for the Research Analyst position occur this week.

Reviewers were particularly attentive to assessment of student learning outcomes, in part because it viewed the College’s efforts as overdue, and in part because our model is still new and will require continued oversight and direction by someone who has a direct line of accountability for its success.

Even so, Peer Reviewers said the “new structure has enhanced visibility, consistency and stronger leadership of the PCC assessment efforts.”

Next steps

The College was given the opportunity to review the Draft Feedback Report for errors. After reviewing the College’s comments, the HLC will finalize and issue the Feedback Report.  We expect this to happen in the next few weeks.  The Final Feedback Report and supporting evidence will be reviewed by the HLC Board of Trustees in February 2017 for a final decision. The status becomes official with the HLC Board vote.

By Sept. 1, 2017, we will submit a report on the status of hiring the two assessment positions. The report also will include updates about the monitored areas. Review of the College’s report will determine if a site visit is required for Fall 2017.

While the College had hoped to come fully off sanction, we are heartened and encouraged by the significant progress to date.

The Reviewers’ compliments were abundant and included statements such as “the institution’s governance and administrative structures promote effective leadership and support collaborative processes that enable the institution to fulfill its mission. … The team found during its visit that it appeared the College had improved the climate of openness and inclusivity of individual perspectives.”

And “it is clear that PCC has embraced a new culture that includes a focus on Developmental Education and on Adult Education, including KPIs related to the development of both within the Strategic Plan. The Dean of Developmental Education is progressively leading an enthusiastic group of faculty, advisors and staff who are focused on student success.”

We are grateful for the Reviewers’ thoughtful evaluation and for recognizing the hard work behind all of the achievements in these past several months. We still have much hard work ahead, but now our path is clear and we can be confident in our actions.

 

Aviation Technology Center update

Here is a message I sent to the College community regarding our Aviation Technology Center:

I have good news to share about our Aviation Technology Center (ATC).  The College was notified on May 17 that the Higher Learning Commission’s Review Committee has recommended approval of the ATC as an additional location, and this will be voted on at the HLC’s June 26 & 27 meeting.

If you’ll remember, when a college offers more than 50 percent of the coursework of a program at a location geographically separate from a main campus (in ATC’s case, Desert Vista), the HLC must approve the site. [You can read more about this and other topics in my synopsis of a May 5 financial aid training for administrators.]

Wednesday, Desert Vista Campus Vice President Ted Roush notified Aviation students of the HLC’s recommendation, which eliminates the need to move classes from the ATC to other PCC locations.

The students also were updated that the College still is waiting for the Department of Education to approve disbursement of financial aid to students taking courses at the ATC. The College has been reaching out to Summer 2016 Financial Aid-certified students at the ATC to inform them that their tuition and other expenses that would have been funded with federal financial aid will be paid instead with institutional and private funds. Each student’s financial situation is unique; aviation academic advisors, counselors and financial aid staff are working with Financial Aid-certified students individually to make sure there is a clear understanding of the process. But it’s important to reiterate: all eligible financial aid Aviation students will be held harmless for the summer.

Bringing the Aviation Technology Center into compliance with HLC and Department of Education rules is crucial to ensuring the success of our students in the highly regarded Aviation program. It also serves as an example of the importance of transparency and accountability amid the complexity of higher education regulation. All across the College, employees are working to bring us into compliance with accreditors and regulators so that students can reap the benefits of a PCC education. I thank you for your dedication to doing things right.

View a fact sheet, for more information regarding the Aviation site approval process.