LMC impresses team

Accreditors offer 3 suggestions


Cathie Lawrence

Accreditation Final Forum, LMC Recital Hall, Pittsburg, Calif. Thursday October 9, 2014. College President Bob Kratochvil and the accreditation board.

Los Medanos College has received five commendations and three recommendations from the visiting team evaluating its performance as an educational institution. Representatives of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges visited LMC last week and gave a summary of its report to members of the college community Oct. 9 in the Recital Hall.
It is rare to get five commendations and just three recommendations — one of which can only be implemented by the district — said Senior Dean of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness and Accreditation Liaison Officer Kiran Kamath.
Visiting Team Chair Helen Cox, who is also chancellor for Kaua’i Community College in Hawaii, said the self-study report submitted by LMC to the commission gave the accrediting team a good sense of what goes on at the college, but only after they arrived did the story come to life.
“We found that this college was so alive and engaged,” said Cox.
The accrediting team’s five commendations summarized by Cox include:
n Textbook Loan Program — Many colleges have a textbook loan program but the team found LMC’s “was very robust and went above and beyond the call of duty,” making almost every book needed available to students.
n Inclusive Culture — LMC fosters an environment “dedicated to innovation and student excellence,” and embraces the idea of research to help support student success.
n Student Leadership — There is a collaborative setting at LMC, which empowers students and student leadership, encouraging them to step up and use their ideas to better their college.
n Shared commitment to excellence and teaching — Everywhere the team went, it was made clear to them how committed the faculty are both inside and outside of the classroom. Clubs, committees, professional development, department meetings and new faculty orientation “all deliberately support quality teaching.”
n Commitment to professional development — The college allows all employees opportunities to benefit from continued education in their fields.
Although the accrediting team was “really impressed” with LMC’ s atmosphere and programs, Cox — who noted the innovation and excellence of the college’s human library activities, student worker program and student leadership outreach — said even the most successful institutions have room for improvement and said the team found three “areas of concern” that should be addressed.
Because the oral report is just a quick summary, said Vice President Kevin Horan, LMC will have to wait until the more detailed written report is released in January to provide guidance in improving the college based on the three recommendations put forth by the accrediting team:
n Brentwood Center — This recommendation has nothing to do with the level of engagement and enthusiasm in Brentwood, said Cox, but instead focuses on its inability to provide necessary services for the exponential growth the center is currently experiencing. Cox acknowledged there is a long-term plan in place but said it will not benefit the students who are currently attending classes at the satellite campus.
n Faculty Evaluations — Student learning outcomes need to become part of faculty evaluations and included in personnel files.
n Resource Allocation Process — LMC has a system in place but needs to “systematically assess effective use” to determine if the resources distributed led to the desired outcomes.
“It was one of the best visits I ever participated in,” said Horan of the accreditation visit, which took two years of preparation and included writing a self study (available online (http://www.losmedanos.edu/accreditation/2014.asp) but expressed surprise at the Brentwood Center being among the accrediting team’s recommendations because it underwent a substantive review by the commission during the spring semester and no problems were identified.
But he did acknowledge the Brentwood Center has experienced “substantial growth for 10 years.”
Enrollment there is only slightly lower than at DVC’s San Ramon satellite campus, which received the same recommendation, and therefore the center needs to increase the level of services offered to students — such as the number of hours counselors and financial aid staff spend at the campus, explained Horan.
LMC had already submitted an actionable improvement plan for its Resource Allocation Process system in the 2014 self-evaluation study submitted to the commission said Horan, so it wasn’t a surprise when it was identified a recommendation.
According to one of the Actionable Improve Plans in the self-study report, “the Business Services Department will conduct an annual evaluation to determine the effectiveness of the allocation of resources towards supporting and achieving College goals.”
This will help in “closing the loop,” explained Horan.
Preparing for the accreditation evaluation, which is conducted every six years, began in 2012 said Horan adding most of the credit for its successful outcome goes to Kamath because she was the “work horse” and did the planning for the team’s visit.
“I think it went extremely well for the college,” said Kamath of the accrediting team’s visit, adding the results were outstanding after all the effort the college put into collectively preparing LMC for the evaluation process.
Kamath said LMC is wonderful educational institution and deserves recognition from its peers. “It will be very confidence building for the college.”