Thursday, August 8, 2013
Pima Community College has spent the last few months coping with its accreditation probation. On Aug. 6, the Higher Learning Commission approved the college's Monitoring Report, a plan to improve operations at the college. Pima has, however, already made several moves to address issues laid out by the HLC:
Revoked the remedial education admission standard
Perhaps the most-discussed grievance with Pima, besides the sexual harassment charges against former chancellor Roy Flores, was the so-called closed door admissions policy. In March 2012, Pima decided to impose a minimum test score for people enrolling at the college. Students who would have previously been directed to the lowest-level remedial courses the college offered, were instead ushered into the college's Prep Academy. Local interest group C-FAIRR (whose website appears to have quietly been taken down) criticized the college for the move, saying it provided a distinct disadvantage for hispanic students, who score lower on the English-based placement tests. The board voted to get rid of the admissions requirement in March, but the Prep Academy remains open for students looking to brush up on their math, reading and writing skills before retaking the college's placement test.
Changes in the chancellor's office
Roy Flores, Pima's chancellor from 2003 through early 2012, was the man behind many of the problems that piled up at Pima (He's even the one who suggested the admissions requirement!). His successor, Suzanne Miles, wasn't a big enough change for the people of Pima— she ended up leaving the position because she felt it was an "obstacle" for the college. New chancellor Lee Lambert and his interim predicessor Zelema Harris are both well respected educators with spotless records— and Lambert has recently taken on a couple of leadership roles with the American Association of Community Colleges.
Community voices in the college
It was unhappy community letters that brought the HLC to investigate Pima in the first place, and the college has taken notice. Pima has involved people outside the core of the college in every committee addressing probation— from a diverse chancellor search committee, to seeking input on the Monitoring Report, and involving faculty and students on the up coming self study committees.
Approved in-state tuition for DACA students
Okay, so this one wasn't an issue that the HLC laid out. However, Pima's board voted 4-1 to allow undocumented students enrolled in a federal immigration program to pay in-state tuition for their classes ($65 per credit, opposed to $329 per credit for out of state tuition). Again, not an issue laid out by the accreditor, but certainly a good PR move after the flack the college got from the hispanic community for requiring a minimum test score to enroll in credit courses at the college.
The recently approved 73-page plan address two other issues laid out by the HLC. From the investigation report:
The college is out of conformity with Assumed Practice A.4, “The institution provides clear information regarding its procedures for receiving complaints and grievances from students and other constituencies, responds to them in a timely manner, and analyzes them to improve its processes” because the fact-finding team found that College did not respond to allegations and complaints about the former chancellor in a timely manner and following appropriate and up-to-date policies and procedures.
The college is out of conformity with Assumed Practice B.2.c, “Faculty participate substantially in oversight of the curriculum—its development and implementation, academic substance, currency, and relevance for internal and external constituencies” because the fact-finding team found that faculty did not participate substantially in the review and adoption of the new admissions policy.