KENTFIELD – The College of Marin has been instructed  to correct issues identified during an examination by the region’s community college accrediting body or face sanctions that could lead to or include a possible loss of accreditation.

The warning, from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, requires that College of Marin improve in six specific areas by Oct. 15 of this year. The college will remain fully accredited in the interim.

The letter from the accrediting commission is the latest development in a process that first began when College of Marin submitted a self-study report to the commission in August of 2010. A later visit by examiners validated the college’s findings and helped to reaffirm its accreditation in early 2011, though the commission required that eight issues be addressed and described in a follow up report in October.

A subsequent return by examiners late last year determined that six of those deficiencies remained, though the college had made progress.

“While the college has made significant progress, we acknowledge that there is more work to be done as outlined in ACCJC/WASC’s recommendations. I believe the college is well on its way towards a timely resolution,” said Superintendent and President Dr. David Coon, in a written statement. “This will be the highest priority for the college over the next months and I have great faith in ability of our faculty, staff, students and board to meet this goal.”

Administrators received the letter, addressed to Dr. Coon and signed by accreditation commission president Dr. Barbara Beno, on Feb. 6. The message requested that the college make the letter and related documents available to students and the public, and an email containing a link to the document was distributed today. Other information during the process has already been made available on the college's Web site.

The letter made specific mention of four recommendations that “identify issues with integrated planning and board governance,” areas that Dr. Beno wrote “have been subject to several Commission sanctions on College of Marin in the past decade.” Most recently, the college was placed in probation status in 2008, a status lifted six months later.

“It is very important that College of Marin address these issues quickly and fully,” she wrote.

Examiners who visited the college last year included Dr. Jose Ortiz, chair of the team and superintendent and president of Allen Hancock College in Santa Barbara County, Nancy Meddings, interim dean at Allen Hancock College and Ms. Rhea Riegel, institutional research coordinator at Fresno City College in Fresno.

In a follow up report, Dr. Ortiz wrote that two members visited the Indian Valley campus in Novato and the main Kentfield campus.

“The college had prepared well for the visit by arranging for meetings with the individuals and groups agreed upon earlier with the team chair and by providing appropriate evidence both online and in the meeting room used by the team,” wrote Dr. Ortiz.

The examination found that the college had progressed sufficiently in two of the noted areas: identifying and assessing student learning outcomes for every instructional, library and student support program and developing comprehensive and accessible research data concerning student demographics and performance.

Six areas, however, still require further work:The college has “made substantial progress” in regularly updating all institutional plans and evaluating the effectiveness of planning and resource allocation, leaving the recommendation “partially addressed.”Online curricula and related support services “partially meet the recommendation” for improvement by the association.Library services at the Indian Valley Campus were found to suffer from limited hours and information, with examiners noting “the college has not fully responded to this recommendation.” The integration of a comprehensive learning software known as Moodle has delayed some advances, the team found.The development of a facilities master plan is currently a “plan to plan,” though work began with a devoted committee in November 2010, according to the examiners. Completion is expected this summer.The development of a sustainable technology plan overseeing many elements of infrastructure is following a similar path as the facilities master plan, with what examiners called a “very concrete ‘plan to plan.’”A recommendation that the college’s board develop policies to support student learning and services is proceeding in a “serious and deliberate manner,” examiners wrote.

“I think that there’s going to be a considerable ramping up of efforts in the next few months,” said Cathy Summa-Wolfe, college spokeswoman. Many of the recommendations could be complete this spring and summer.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges facilitates accreditation examinations under the authorization of the U.S. Department of Education, a process repeated every six years. The commission describes accreditation as “a voluntary system of self regulation developed to evaluate overall educational quality and institutional effectiveness.” The status is commonly used as a perquisite for funding and transferable student credits.

College of Marin was founded as Marin Junior College in 1926, enrolling approximately 10,000 credit and non-credit students each semester, according to the college.