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Hartnell College Commits to Quickly Resolving Accreditation Recommendations

June 29th, 2007

As a result of the normal periodic review process undertaken by institutions of higher education, Hartnell College learned today that it will be put on probation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, effective immediately.

This action does not affect Hartnell’s accreditation status, but does require quick action to address deficiencies or deviations found by the Commission.

“We understand the seriousness of being placed on probation, and we will work together to address the Commission’s recommendations in the time frame it has laid out for us,” said Dr. Phoebe Helm, interim president and superintendent of Hartnell College who officially takes office on July 1.

“Since receiving the Commission’s notification this morning, I have spoken to and received the commitment of the leadership of the faculty union, the classified senate, the classified union, senior staff, and the board of trustees to work together to meet the accreditation requirements. We have both the talent and the determination to fix this, and I am confident that we will fix this. The future of Hartnell and of this community is just too important not to.”

The Commission identified several factors that must be addressed and resolved by the college in the next several months. The major points for resolution involve issues of internal and external governance; the need to integrate processes for program review, planning, budgeting, and hiring; and the development and publication of student learning and achievement outcomes for each course and program.

The Commission noted the long-standing nature of several of these issues, including three recommendations that had first been identified by an evaluation team in 2000, and one in 1994.

The college will be required to file progress reports in October, 2007, and March, 2008. Each report will be followed by a visit of commission representatives.

Board Chair Aaron Johnson noted that the Board of Trustees will devote two Saturdays in July to goal-setting and to addressing the accreditation commission’s recommendations. Attendance at these sessions is crucial, according to Johnson, who said that it is now of the utmost importance for the board to come together as one governing body.

“As chair of the Board of Trustees, I am fully committed to working to resolve these issues and I am confident that our board will come together in this endeavor,” said Johnson. “Hartnell is fortunate to have someone with Dr. Helm’s experience and background to lead us through this important time. The board will commit all available resources of the college to address the issues raised in the report. I expect that, with the total commitment of our administration, faculty, staff, and board of trustees, we will be able to meet the accreditation recommendations of the Commission in a timely manner.”

Dr. Ann Wright, Hartnell biology instructor and newly elected faculty union president, voiced her commitment to bring the faculty to the table to resolve these issues. “One thing we have learned is just how much Hartnell has meant to us and to this community. We are committed to being more involved in the life of this college and we have already started the work of getting some of these things done.”

She noted that the Academic Senate had taken the lead on many of these issues.

“We are anxious to use the principles of shared governance in the way they were intended,” Wright said. “There is a lot of brain power here, and we ought to be using it.”

Margie Wiebusch, president of Hartnell’s unit of the California School Employees Association, also committed the cooperation of her group to work hard at a solution. “As bad as it sounds, it is the biggest opportunity to all groups on campus to put aside all dissensions and come out strong and united,” she said.

Tammy Sharp de Avalos, president of the Classified Senate, agreed. “We see this as an opportunity to grow and become even better. This is more than our livelihood, it is our family, and we are going to put in all of our efforts to make it the best we can.”