Here's More Detail on Recent News That Pima Community College Was Removed from Probation

It was reported yesterday
that, after nearly two years, Pima Community College is no longer on probation.

Several issues, from alleged mismanagement of funds to corrupt hiring practices and sexual harassment, got the institution in trouble with its accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission, in April 2013. Since then, there's a new chancellor on board, Pima laid out a plan to deal with HLC's concerns and issued a self-study report. Then, the HLC came by to evaluate the college team last fall.

Last month, the HLC board had a meeting and decided Pima should get off probation. Instead, the college has been placed "on notice"—a lesser sanction, according to the agency—which means the institution will still be monitored for the next few years.

Pima has to file a notice report in July 2016, followed by another evaluation by the HLC in September. The two will be reviewed in the February 2017 HLC meeting, where it will decide whether Pima is still at risk of non-compliance.

Also, "In addition, the Board placed the College on the Standard Pathway and required that it host its next comprehensive evaluation for Reaffirmation of Accreditation in 2018-19," the HLC says.

PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert issued another statement this afternoon:

As promised, I am updating you with more information regarding yesterday’s good news that the Higher Learning Commission has removed Pima Community College from probation.

First, I invite you to read the letter dated March 9 from HLC President Barbara Gellman-Danley detailing many important topics related to our new status of Notice.

Notice means that the College is now in compliance with the HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation, but remains at risk of being out of compliance with the Criteria for Accreditation and the Core Components.

From reading the letter, many of you will gather that the HLC Board of Trustees identified the same 11 areas of improvement identified by the HLC’s Institutional Actions Council in January. It should be noted that the College has already begun work on these areas in order to put processes into place and to demonstrate results, not only to meet the standards of the HLC, but as part of a cycle of continuous improvement at PCC.

For example, we have held meetings with internal and external constituents as part of a formal review of our mission, and this spring we are planning a follow-up to last year’s successful Futures Conference. We also have filled key leadership positions, such as Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Accreditation, and Executive Director of Developmental Education.

By being removed from Probation and placed on Notice, the HLC has placed us on the Standard Pathway for reaffirming our accreditation. [You can read more about the Standard Pathway on the HLC’s webpage.] At the end of the pathway, in 2018-2019, is a Comprehensive Evaluation Visit from the HLC to determine reaffirmation of our accreditation.

First things first, however. PCC will submit a Notice Report to the HLC by July 1, 2016, demonstrating the progress the College has made in the areas identified by the HLC Board. The HLC will conduct a Focused Evaluation Visit no later than September 2016, and in February 2017 the HLC Board will review our notice report.

At the February 2017 meeting, the HLC Board will “determine whether the institution has demonstrated that it is no longer at risk for non-compliance with the Criteria for Accreditation and Core Components and whether Notice can be removed, or if the College has not demonstrated compliance, whether accreditation should be withdrawn or other action taken.”

Clearly, there are serious consequences for failing to live up to the HLC’s standards. However, I am confident that we will continue our great work and attain the fullest confidence of our accreditor. As I said yesterday, great job and keep up the good work!
In case you missed it up there, here's the HLC letter from March 9.

Pima has another problem to worry about this year: funding. The $9.1 billion budget passed by the state Legislature on Saturday gives zero dollars to Pima and Maricopa community colleges. Pinal got "lucky" with $2 million.