Things to Know – Monday, April 10, 2017

Welcome back to another week, as we continue to sprint toward Commencement…one of the best days of the year, things seem to just be speeding up.

The California Pathways Project 

Dr. Kay McClenny, a proponent for pathways through colleges co-authored the following article. Since, Southwestern College is one of the 20 California Pathways colleges, I hope you will take time to become familiar the concepts. Research has demonstrated pathways are a proven strategy to help close the achievement gap, and I know some of you are huge advocates for closing the gap.

Someone left a book in my office, we will let him identify himself…Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. Through reading this book this weekend, I can understand why well-constructed educational pathways are an effective strategy for helping to close the achievement gap. Worth a read…you will hear more about this, as there are some important points in this book, that we can apply to everything we do in higher education.


Four people from Southwestern College attended the first ever Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) conference last week: Board President Nader; Professor Randy Beach, Linda Gilstrap, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, and I. One of the major themes was the positive changes at the ACCJC, and moving back to a peer review organization to ensure we are providing a quality educational experience. There were many presentations, and the presenters are starting to post these presentations on the following website. Worth a check in.

So, what keeps me up at night when it comes to accreditation?  Our opening keynote speaker Dr. Judith Eaton, President, Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), made some very important points about where we are and where accreditation is headed nationally. Where we are:

  • Uncertainty
  • Rudderlessness – love this word…
  • Unpredictability

Where we are heading:

She discussed the history of peer review and why accreditation is so important to our colleges. What she also noted is that there will continue to be a national push toward more regulation, more of a focus on higher education being accountable to the government, which will make it hard to live up to the “missions of our institutions.” In other words, compromising the independence of the academe.

In response, CHEA has produced a paper titled Regulatory Relief for Higher Education.

CHEA sees this regulatory relief as central to achieving three major goals to move accreditation forward. These goals are doing more to:

  • Protect students:  Strengthen accreditation rigor and provide expanded, readily understandable and accessible information about institutions and programs.
  • Advance innovation: Encourage fresh approaches to quality review of traditional providers and expand quality review to new providers and new credentialing.
  • Sustain the strengths of accreditation: Maintain and enhance the academic leadership of institutions and programs, peer review and the commitment to academic freedom.

Why does this bother me? While I am a proponent of transparency, I am highly concerned about having the United States Department of Education staff conducting accreditation visits and making judgments on our community colleges, rather than peer review. While our own system of accreditation needs work (and we are doing the hard work), many of us believe that federal control of accreditation threatens the mission of the academe.

Leadership – Quote by Jim Rohn

The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude;

Be kind, but not weak;

Be bold, but not bully;

Be thoughtful, but not lazy;

Be humble, but not timid;

Be proud, but not arrogant;

Have humor, but without folly.