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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / Accrediting Commission Places Pasadena City College Accreditation on ‘Imposed Probation’

Accrediting Commission Places Pasadena City College Accreditation on ‘Imposed Probation’

by Pasadena Independent
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PCC. - Photo by Terry Miller

PCC. – Photo by Terry Miller

Student Distrust of Administration Cited

Once again, PCC is in the headlines. After a heated couple of years with former President Rocha, who ultimately had to leave, the school is now facing accreditation issues that could seriously affect classes in 2016.

Pasadena City College’s accreditation has been placed “on probation” after reviewing the way the school is run, according to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

PCC Superintendent Rajen Vurdien sent the following email to our office on Friday evening: “Pasadena City College remains a fully accredited institution.  The Commission placed the college on probation following a visit last spring.  The college has to address nine recommendations which have to do mostly with implementing an integrated planning and budget model, communications and ensuring the completion of evaluations of faculty and staff.”

You can read the action letter as well as the report on this site:  http://www.pasadena.edu/accreditation/2015-accreditation-results-and-recommendations.html, or at the bottom of this story.

If the administration does not bring PCC into compliance within the next two years, the commission could terminate its accreditation, according to a letter from the ACCJC sent to Interim President Dr. Robert Miller.

The college must respond by October 2016 to show that it has met the commission’s major recommendations.

ACCJC found flaws in the college’s program review, in its adherence to its own ethics policy, in its planning, and in its communication between administrators and staff.

Some of the recommendations related to low morale at the community college.

In a review of the college’s ethics policy, the commission found a “climate of distrust,” an erosion of “participatory governance,” and a “lack of respect” among employees. PCC instituted its ethics policy as part of recommendations made by the accrediting commission in 2009, but a review found “ample evidence that these policies are disregarded and are not enforced.”

A scathing Campus Climate Survey given to the schools’ faculty in 2014 showed most believed the administration did not follow its policies and procedures and that it did not operate with transparency. According to the survey, 35 percent of respondents felt PCC was “very poorly” managed. Subsequently a vote of no confidence was initiated.

Barbara Beno responded to our request for comment:

“Pasadena City College has a new Superintendent/President, Dr. Vurdean, who has already contacted the ACCJC to discuss the issues at Pasadena City College that led to the Commission’s action’s decision.  Dr. Vurdean is no stranger to accreditation issues.  He has assured us he’ll be very aggressive in taking action to bring the college into compliance with quality standards.  He’s done this task before, for another College, and we believe he knows how to organize and move a college forward.

“You can find more information about Commission’s action on the Pasadena City College website, under  ‘accreditation.’  You can find more information as well on the Commission’s website, under our Directory of Accredited Institutions.


“Barbara A. Beno, Ph.D., President of Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.”

The letter:

“June 29, 2015
Dr. Robert Miller
Pasadena City College
1570 East Colorado Boulevard Pasadena, CA 92069

Dear President Miller:

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, at its meeting on June 3-5, 2015, reviewed the Institutional Self Evaluation Report, the Report of the External Evaluation Team that visited Pasadena City College March 2-5, 2015, and considered the opening testimony provided by President Miller and other representatives of the college leadership. The Commission appreciates the joint commitment to working together toward improvement that Pasadena College representatives spoke about.

The Commission took action to impose Probation and require the College to submit a Follow-Up Report in October 2016. The Report will be followed by a visit an external evaluation team. Probation is imposed when an institution deviates significantly from the Commission’s Eligibility Requirements, Accreditation Standards, or Commission policies, but not to such an extent as to warrant a Show Cause order or the termination of accreditation. When Probation is imposed as a result of the institution’s educational quality and institutional effectiveness review, reaffirmation is delayed, but the accredited status of the institution continues during the probation period.

Pasadena City College should submit the Follow-Up Report by October 1, 2016.’ The Follow-Up Report should demonstrate that the College has resolved the deficiencies which led to noncompliance and that it meets the Standards. The Report should address the recommendations noted below.
Need to Resolve Deficiencies:

The Accreditation Standards represent practices that lead to academic quality and institutional effectiveness. Deficiencies in institutional policies, procedures, practices, and outcomes which lead to noncompliance with any Standards will impact quality at an institution, and ultimately the educational environment and experiences of students.

The Commission found Pasadena City College out of compliance with the following Eligibility Requirements and Accreditation Standards: Eligibility Requirement 5 and 19 and Standards I.B.3; l.B.4; I.B.6; I.B.7; II.A.2.e and f; III.A. Lb; Ill.A. 1.c; III.A.1 .d; III.A.2; III.A.4.c; III.A.5.a and b; III.A.6; II1.13.1b; IIl.C.2; III.D.4; IV.A; IV.A.I; IV.A.3; IV.A.5; IV.B.I .e and h. The External Evaluation Report that was sent to the institution provides details of the team’s findings with regard to each Eligibility Requirement and Accreditation Standard and should be read carefully and used to understand the team’s findings. Recommendations I through 8 provide guidance for coming into compliance.

Recommendation #1
In order to meet the Standards, and as noted in Recommendations #1 and #2 (2009), the team recommends that the College systematically evaluate and improve all of its planning processes, including full integration of program review (instructional, student services, and administrative services) into the planning processes, and the use of program review and the planning processes to determine the allocation of resources and to make decisions regarding the improvement of institutional effectiveness. (Standards LB.3; I.B.4; LB.6; I.B.7; II.A.2.e and f; III.A.6; III.B.2.b; IlI.C.2; IIl.D.4 and Eligibility Requirement 19)

Recommendation #2
In order to meet the Standards, the team recommends that the College create and implement a plan to ensure the regular evaluation of all employees based upon intervals consistent with College policies. (Standard LILA. Lb)

Recommendation #3
In order to meet the Standards, the team recommends that the College standardize its performance evaluation process for adjunct faculty, and that the College include assessment of student learning outcomes in its performance evaluations of adjunct faculty, staff, and management employees who are directly responsible for student progress toward achieving those learning outcomes. (Standard lilA.! .c)

Recommendation #4
In order to meet the Standards, the team recommends that the College constituents follow their approved codes of ethics and that all constituent groups embrace and demonstrate compliance with Board Policy 2715-Code of Ethics/Standards of Practice, AP 3050-Professional Ethics of Faculty, AP 3060-Professional Ethics of Management, and AP 3070-Professional Ethics of Classified Staff. (Standards LILA. I .d; III.A.3; ILI.A.4.c; IV.A and IV.B. i.e and h)

Recommendation #5
In order to meet the Standards, the team recommends that the College focus on stabilizing its administrative organizational structure and complete the selection processes to fill the interim, acting and vacant administrative positions with permanent appointments. (Standard II1.A.2; Eligibility Requirement 5)

Recommendation #6
In order to meet the Standards, the team recommends that the College, through participatory governance, develop and implement a comprehensive, coordinated professional development program for all personnel, regularly assess the effectiveness of the program, and use the assessment results as the basis for continuous improvement. (Standards III.A.5.a and b)

Recommendation #7
In order to meet the Standards, the team recommends that institutional leaders use transparent participatory processes; follow Board policies for soliciting input from all constituent groups for institutional decision making; and model collegial communication specifically among the Board, President and Academic Senate, for the goal of working together to demonstrate an environment of empowerment, innovation and institutional excellence for the good of the institution. (Standards IV.A. I; IV.A.3 and IV.B. Le)

Recommendation #8
In order to meet the Standards, and as noted in Recommendation #6 (2009), the team recommends that the institution regularly and systematically evaluates organization structures and processes to assure their integrity and effectiveness, communicates those evaluations to the College, and uses the results of those evaluations as a basis for improvement. (Standard IV.A.5)

Improving Institutional Effectiveness:
In its report, the team identified needs for improving institutional effectiveness and provided Recommendations 9. This recommendation does not identify current areas of deficiency in institutional practice, but highlights areas of practice for which College attention is needed. The Commission requires that institutions address recommendations for increasing institutional effectiveness as an aspect of maintaining compliance with Standards and engaging in continuous quality improvement. The Commission therefore requests Pasadena City College to include its response to Recommendation 9 in its October I, 2016 Follow-Up Report.

Recommendation #9
In order to improve institutional effectiveness, the team recommends that all Student Affairs departments and service programs conduct annual outcomes assessments, and that a regular program review cycle be clearly established and communicated to all student service programs. (Standard II.B.4)

Additional Information:
Under U.S. Department of Education regulations, the Commission is required to take immediate action to terminate the accreditation of an institution which is out of compliance with any Standard. In the alternative, the Commission can provide the institution with additional notice and a deadline for coming into compliance that is no later than two years from when the institution was first informed of the noncompliance. With this letter, Pasadena City College is being provided with notice of the Standards for which it is out of compliance and is being provided time to meet the Standards.

In its self evaluation process, Pasadena College also identified improvement plans it intends to undertake. These improvement plans should be linked to Pasadena College’s ongoing evaluation and improvement work.

The guidance and recommendations contained in the External Evaluation Report represent the best advice of the peer evaluation team at the time of the visit, but may not describe all that is necessary for Pasadena College to come into compliance. While an institution may concur or disagree with any part of the Report, Pasadena City College is expected to use the External Evaluation Report to improve educational programs and services. In addition, the College has the responsibility to accept the Commission’s action and to uphold the integrity of the accreditation process by accurately portraying it and helping institutional constituencies to understand the Eligibility Requirements, Accreditation Standards, and Commission policies pertinent to the Commission action.

I have previously sent you a copy of the External Evaluation Report. The Commission requires that the College give the Institutional Self Evaluation Report, the External Evaluation Team Report, and this letter appropriate dissemination to College staff and to those who were signatories of the College Self Evaluation Report. This group should include the campus leadership and the Board of Trustees. The Commission also requires that these documents be made available to students and the public by placing a copy on the College website. Please note that in response to public interest in disclosure, the Commission now requires institutions to post accreditation information on a page no more than one click from the institution’s home page.

Public Disclosure Notice and Institutional Response
Federal regulations require the Commission to post a Public Disclosure Notice (PDN) for institutions placed on Probation. The PDN is used to inform the public of the reasons for such a sanction. Attached you will find a sheet entitled About the Public Disclosure Notice, as well as the proposed PDN for Pasadena City College.

The Commission will post the PDN on the College’s entry in the Directory of Accredited Institutions online at www.accjc.org. The institution is permitted to post a response to the PDN, and your comments are invited. Please provide the College’s response for posting, if any, by July 31, 2015.
On behalf of the Commission, I wish to encourage your continued work to ensure Pasadena College’s educational quality and to support students’ success. Professional self-regulation is the responsibility of an accredited institution and the accreditor. Thank you for sharing in that responsibility.

If you should have any questions concerning this letter or the Commission action, or require assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Barbara A. Beno, Ph.D., President
Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges”

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