February 2016 Message
I hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend and are taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather we've enjoyed at least part of this week. A number of exciting things are taking place at the college these days, but in the interest of time, I will limit this month's message to an update on two important topics.
Liberal Arts Building: In the fall, I shared with you the decision to move forward with replacing the Liberal Arts Building. Since that time, the scope of this project has evolved as we worked to address a number of longstanding facilities constraints, as well as establish a more forward-thinking vision for the building-one that would facilitate stronger programmatic alignments, and by extension, better serve our students.
I am pleased to report that this effort has been successful. The initially envisioned 26,789 square foot Liberal Arts modernization project now represents a 36,976 square foot state-of-the art STEM-themed facility. This new facility will include Mathematics, Computer Science, Business, Physics, Engineering, Astronomy and Physical Sciences. In addition to its physical design, the interdisciplinary nature of this facility represents a unique opportunity to enhance the learning environment through pedagogical and curricular innovation.
This new space creates other opportunities. Earth Science, for example, will move into the facilities vacated by Physics, Engineering, Astronomy and Physical Sciences, and in doing so, free up space in the Biology/Chemistry area for what will become two state-of-the-art laboratory classrooms: one for each of these departments.
This new facility is projected to open in fall 2019. More information will be forthcoming as we move into the building's design phase. My appreciation goes to all of the aforementioned departments, particularly those who met with us more than once to discuss the evolving scope of this project. I also want to acknowledge the consideration and support we received from the district office while working to expand vision of this building.
Reaffirmation of Accreditation: Last week we were notified that the Commission (ACCJC) reaffirmed our accreditation for 18 months, during which time we are required to submit a follow-up report. Since sharing this information with the college, I have received a number of questions regarding the 18-month component of our reaffirmation. This time period reflects a revised Commission policy established in response to a longstanding concern by colleges that inadequate time was provided to address non-compliance findings prior to being sanctioned by the Commission.
This new policy language is intended to address this concern for colleges that are in substantial compliance with accreditation standards. Specifically, it provides such colleges up to 18 months to address a small number of deficiencies before the Commission determines if any further action is appropriate. In the past, the Commission would have been required to make such a determination much sooner, as part of its initial action letter/report.
As I mentioned in my earlier communication, ARC is in substantial compliance with accreditation standards. However, we have one college and three district non-compliance findings that are currently in the process of being addressed. Once this work is completed, we will submit a follow-up report to the Commission and have our accreditation reaffirmed for the remainder of the six-year accreditation cycle.
It is worth noting that this new policy was used by the Commission for the first time this January, when determining the accreditation status of those colleges (including ARC) that went through the fall 2015 comprehensive reevaluation process. Interestingly, every college in this cohort whose accreditation was reaffirmed, received it on the same 18-month basis from the Commission.
I will continue to update you of our progress with regard to accreditation as we move forward. Again, my thanks go to all of you who worked so hard on this important process. In the interim, please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or require any further information about either the new facility or accreditation.
Thanks again for all you do on behalf of our students' learning and success.