North Bay Business Journal

Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 5:07 pm

Accreditors lift warning on College of Marin

Report cites cultural shift toward student outcomes


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    KENTFIELD — The accreditation agency overseeing College of Marin has lifted a warning it issued the college a year ago, citing marked accomplishment in addressing issues that could have lead to loss of accreditation.

    Barbara Beno, president of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, sent a letter, dated Feb. 11, to college President David Coon, accepting findings that the college had improved in six areas considered deficient after a late 2011 visit by examiners, according to the college.

    “This is great news for the college and a testament to the continuing hard work and dedication of faculty, staff, students and our board of trustees to take very seriously the commission’s accrediting standards and its recommendations,” said Dr. Coon, in a statement.

    Those six deficient areas included long-term institutional planning, measurement of student outcomes, distance education, library access, facility planning, technology planning and practices by the college board of trustees. A followup visit by examiners in November verified improvements in those areas, resulting in a final report that lauded progress made in several areas.

    The removal of the warning ends a process that began with the college’s regular self-study report to the accreditation commission in August 2010. Examiners validated those findings and reaffirmed the college’s accreditation in early 2011 as part of a regular six-year cycle but required improvement in eight areas and a followup report in October of that year.

    Examiners later determined that six of the areas were not sufficiently addressed, and warned the college that it must show adequate progress by Oct. 15, 2012 or face further actions.

    With the resolution of those issues, the college said it now reenters the regular accreditation schedule and will file its next midterm report by Oct. 15 of this year.

    In the followup examiner report, Dr. José Ortiz, team chairman and chancellor of the Peralta Community College District in Oakland, highlighted notable strides College of Marin has taken in each accreditation criteria and noted that the process has invigorated college staff.

    “Assessment and discussion of student learning outcomes has become, in the words of one administrator, ‘The most exciting thing that we are doing,’” wrote Dr. Ortiz. “It is clear that there has been a shift in the college culture.”

    Mr. Ortiz also credited Dr. Coon with spearheading a cultural shift that increases the focus on student needs at the school’s Indian Valley campus, and cited “remarkable strides” in College of Marin’s long-term plan for its facilities.

    College of Marin was founded as Marin Junior College in 1926. It accommodates about 10,000 credit and non-credit students each semester.

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