Accreditation quandary

The Los Medanos College battle for accreditation continued Monday with a third draft presented to campus faculty and staff for review before being forwarded to the Academic Senate May 12 for endorsement.

The gray, cool atmosphere of the community meeting room in the LMC Library was in stark contrast to the tensions of many who are now analyzing the work of those who have been writing and editing the report for the past two years. The college needs to move the self-study report into its final stages for the fall 2014 accreditation visit.

“It’s a moving target because we are still editing what has come forward,” said LMC President Bob Kratochvil.

The current draft, still in the works, is organized into different sections evaluating LMC against a common set of accreditation standards, as well as responses to previous accreditation recommendations:

* institutional mission and effectiveness

* student learning programs

* leadership and governance

While previous drafts have been made available, the current third revision posted on the LMC website was missing several sections of the accreditation standards. Some members of the audience raised questions about the problem that wasn’t solved until midnight of that day, after the review meeting. The entire third section only recently became available for viewing last week, and some said they had not yet had a chance to review it.

The lack of posted information caused some staff members to speak out against management expectations of voting on accreditation materials before the chance to review them.

“You sent out some emails suggesting that we should have been reviewing this and given you feedback sooner,” said math professor Erich Holtmann, who brought attention to the missing documents. “That’s cutting it last minute. You can’t blame us for missing the timeline. That’s not our fault.”

Kratochvil and Kiran Kamath, senior dean of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, took responsibility for the missing materials.

“We acknowledge that there are two sections that are omitted. The co-chairs and the teams are doing the best they can,” said Kratochvil, underscoring the fact that the report deadline comes at the chaotic end of the semester.

Despite the missing standards, the meeting went on in an effort to wordsmith several of the Actionable Improvement Plans identified in the accreditation report.

Diversity was the hot topic of conversation in an analysis of the improvement. After heated feedback from faculty and staff about the role of diversity on campus, Dave Belman clarified that the plan was centered around student awareness and not college awareness of diversity issues. He offered alternate wording, ending the debate.

Other sticking points included the meaning of “validation” of program reviews and diversity in hiring practices.

The Actionable Improvement Plans will be revised based on meeting feedback before the May 12 Academic Senate meeting.

Kamath emphasized at the meeting the importance of Academic Senate approval of the document, but Holtmann said he will not support an accreditation report he has not reviewed in its entirety.

“If they are not ready, we should not vote on it,” said Holtmann. “I don’t want to vote on something that isn’t ready.”