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Commission reaffirms 6-year IVC accreditation

June 23, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — Imperial Valley College received reaffirmation of accreditation for a six- year period by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in a letter Monday.

The accreditation is contingent on an interim report to be filed by IVC no later than November 2002.

"It is very rare that colleges get renewals without some kind of review," said Eileen Ford, IVC dean of learning services, who has served on three accreditation commissions for other colleges.

"It's almost standard practice," she added.

Ford was a member of the IVC accreditation team.

"The review is not necessarily a negative thing. They want to see the progress you're making," she explained.

Valerie Rogers, a business professor at the college and a co-chair of the accreditation steering committee, concurred with Ford.

"I don't think we were surprised. We expected it," said Rogers of the recommendations issued.

"When we wrote the (initial) report we were truthful … we had targeted those areas," said Rogers.


The commission issued 11 recommendations to be addressed in the interim report.

The recommendations include developing common ground to improve campus communications, enhancing planning efforts and reviewing and updating the college's mission statement.

The commission recommended IVC's program review process be evaluated to be merged with the college's planning and budget area.

In his letter to the college, David Wolf, commission executive director, wrote, "In addition, the commission encourages Imperial Valley College to use participatory governance as a tool to unite rather than divide the college community."

Said Marian Long, IVC trustee: "We are constantly aware of the need for improving communications. There's always an emphasis on that."

She added, "We have total awareness of the need for communication … I think it's improving."

"There is continuing work being done," said Ford of improvements in communication between the administration and staff.

"We're all on the same team, all working for the students and I think we are all, to a certain extent, working on the same page," she said.

She noted to overcome the division between administration and staff "there needs to be more of a sense of trust."

"There's a lack of trust on both sides," said Ford.

Rogers mentioned trust as an issue to improve communication.

Rogers said, "The infrastructure is there. With the participatory governance, everything is set up for communication to happen."

She continued, "We're on our way to having good communication … you have to have the element of trust."

John Hunt, IVC vice president for academic services and co-chairman with Rogers of the accreditation steering committee, said communication has improved since the accreditation commission's visit.

"The president, Dr. (Gilbert) Dominguez, meets with the president of the academic senate weekly. He communicates items discussed at the cabinet meeting the day before and discusses issues being discussed in the cabinet," said Hunt.

He continued, "The vice presidents communicate with their staff and they communicate to faculty through email."

Hunt said he has weekly meetings with administrators in instructional areas in which he goes over items discussed in cabinet meetings.

"This is something we started before the accreditation visit and we have improved upon it since the visit," said Hunt.

He said he has noticed a change in communications since the weekly meetings were implemented.

"People are more aware of what's going on in terms of what's being discussed," said Hunt, adding he has received some feedback from staff.

"Feedback lets me know that we're improving," he said.

Long said, "I think we are in good shape. We are striving to improve in every way."

Rogers and Hunt agreed the accreditation process has united the oft-divided campus.

Calling it a "campuswide effort," Rogers said, "Everybody working on the accreditation project was good for communication and to develop trust."

She continued, "I think it galvanized us and we're only going to go forward."

Hunt agreed, saying, "The steering committee consisted of representatives from all areas of the college. Every single person worked extremely well for the common goal of the self study to be candid about what we're doing and areas of concern."

He continued, "It helped unify our college by all these people working together for a common cause."

Rogers and Ford emphasized the issues that have divided the college have not had an effect in the education of the students.

"The education in the classroom has not been affected by these things," said Ford.

"The faculty continue to do as fine a job as they've ever done. They haven't allowed it to affect the classroom at all," Ford said.

Said Rogers: "I don't think it's affected the classroom teaching.

"In the exit interview the accreditation commission said we're doing a good job in the classroom and I agree with that," Rogers said.

The commission not only issued recommendations but commended the college on at least 16 points.

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