LMC quality confirmed

Commission authorizes re-accredidation

This+is+incredibly+exciting+news%2C+and+an+achievement+for+which+our+entire+college+community+should+be+proud.+-+Bob+Kratochvil

Cathie Lawrence

“This is incredibly exciting news, and an achievement for which our entire college community should be proud.” – Bob Kratochvil

Los Medanos College’s accreditation has been reaffirmed by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

“This is incredibly exciting news, and an achievement for which our entire college community should be proud,” said LMC President Bob Kratochvil in a college-wide email released following the receipt of the action letter authorizing LMC’s accreditation.

A renewal of legitimacy, pending a follow-up report due October 2015, marks the closing stages of a nearly three-year enterprise.

The report must address the recommendations passed down from both the oral exit report that closed last October’s accrediting team visit and from the commission’s reaffirmation letter, released Feb. 6.

Penned by ACCJC President Barbara Beno, the release took action to reaffirm accreditation for LMC. It states that, “reaffirmation is granted when the institution substantially meets or exceeds the Eligibility Requirements, Accreditation Standards and Commission policies.”

The action letter also reveals that while LMC is indeed accredited, the commission found the college deficient in 10 standards and two eligibility requirements, hence the need for a follow-up report and additional visit.

“Accreditation is crucial for an educational institution to provide services like financial aid to its students,” said Kratochvil. Not only that, but a college that is not accredited offers no legitimacy for its degrees, effectively making them useless to prospective employers.

LMC began the process of renewing its status as an accredited institution in the late months of 2012. The first hurdle was to submit a report after a two-year self-evaluation process.

After submitting the report in August 2014, the college was visited by an external evaluation team from the accrediting commission. At the end of its visit, the team gave the college five commendations and three recommendations.

The deficiencies boil down to two LMC-specific recommendations and one for the entire Contra Costa Community College District.

Seven standards and both eligibility requirements are related to College Recommendation 1, which states that LMC “ensures it is meeting identified needs of students at the Brentwood Center including quality and availability of student services, technology, facilities and library support.”

To fulfill the deficiencies related to the Brentwood Campus, the recommendation requires that LMC “must demonstrate that these services and resources, regardless of location or means of delivery, support student learning and enhance student achievement, fulfilling the mission of the institution.”

College Recommendation 2 requires that LMC “improve the effectiveness of its resource allocation process.” The commission is essentially directing LMC to determine whether the outcome of financial allocation on campus is both efficient and successful, leading to institutional improvement.

The district recommendation calls for the thorough integration of “student learning outcomes into the evaluation process for those who have a direct responsibility for student progress.” This integration would not only be for teachers but for non-instructional faculty and staff as well.

LMC’s Accreditation Steering Committee that guided the college through the process of reaffirmation has already begun to put plans in place to complete the required secondary self-report.

The committee is made up of Kratochvil, Vice President Kevin Horan, Kiran Kamath, senior dean of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness as well as representatives from the three college senates — Janith Norman, Linda Kohler and Gary Walker — and notetaker BethAnn Robertson.

“The ASC and the president’s cabinet are carefully studying the 97-page report of the external evaluation team and have begun work to address the recommendations,” said Kamath in an email.

Kamath, who also serves as accreditation liaison officer, added that, “College Recommendation Response teams are being formed to address the two college recommendations.”

While the report is not due until October, Kamath is hopeful that LMC can have a response ready by the end of the current semester.

The third recommendation regarding the entire district may take longer to complete because it involves employee evaluation, requiring negotiation between direct management and employee unions.

Members of the committee will divide the deficiencies among themselves and begin the task of shoring up the college to satisfy the ACCJC’s recommendations. The plan is that come October, the process may finally see its end and Los Medanos College will remain accredited until the next evaluation cycle.

The accrediting commission is in the process of changing its regulations regarding the length of time it takes to accredit an institution from six years to seven. Kratochvil is not sure if LMC has missed the boat to qualify for the new, longer period of accreditation.

Nevertheless, assuming smooth sailing from here on out, the college will be accredited for the next six years.

All information relating to accreditation, including the action letter from the accrediting commission and information on the Accreditation Steering Committee can be found online at losmedanos.edu/accreditation.

Kamath can be emailed at kkamath@losmedanos.edu for more information about accreditation.