Hartnell Colleges Accreditation Site Visit concluded on Thursday, March 21, 2013, with the visiting team issuing its preliminary findings during an exit interview at noon in Steinbeck Hall.
After thanking the college for its hospitality and friendly cooperation, the visiting team issued five commendations and 12 recommendations to the college.
The college was commended for its cooperative spirit in making necessary changes, for offering unique and innovative programs that contributed to student learning and engagement, for providing architecturally interesting and inviting learning spaces for students, and for the innovative use of physical resources in King City and at the Alisal Campus that respond to the needs of the community. Its foremost commendation went to the president of the college, who was commended for assessing the institution's needs immediately upon arrival on July 1, 2012, and his leadership in facilitating the processes that will lead to necessary improvements.
Among the team's recommendations to the college were to develop processes for the regular and systematic evaluation of its mission; to develop comprehensive integrative planning processes, including strategic and annual plans; to standardize student learning outcomes, service learning outcomes and program-level outcomes, and provide training for staff on how to accomplish this; to improve staff evaluation processes; to develop and implement a stable administrative structure; and to evaluate its participatory governance model. The team noted that much of this work has been started at the college, but that the college must work diligently to continue this work and complete the planning and assessment cycle.
In response to the team's findings President Lewallen stated, "accreditation is a process that ensures institutional quality through a comprehensive assessment of the institution's effectiveness. The team's recommendations will form the basis for Hartnell College moving from a college of excellence to one of pre-eminence."
Over the next few months, the team will provide its commendations and recommendations to the college in a written report, inviting the college to respond to any factual errors. Then the report will be forwarded to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. The commission will meet in June to consider all of the evidence submitted to it, including the college's self-evaluation and the report of the visiting team, and will issue its decision on the college's accredited status.
Accreditation is a voluntary system of self-regulation of schools and colleges developed to evaluate overall educational quality and institutional effectiveness. The process provides assurance to the public that each accredited college meets the standards for a degree-granting institution of higher education. Every six years, institutions renew the process, which includes completing a self-evaluation and being reviewed by a visiting team to determine whether the college meets standards related to institutional mission and effectiveness, student learning programs and services, the effective use of resources, and leadership and governance. The accreditation cycle requires reaffirmation of accreditation every six years.