Those who are familiar with Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) events from the past know that February has featured the Accreditation Institute for many years. This year, the ASCCC has chosen to partner with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) to hold a joint event, marking the first time that the two groups have combined their events into one. This decision was made for a number of reasons, including timing, resources, and the relationship between the ASCCC and ACCJC that has continued to grow over the past several years.
For more than ten years, the ASCCC’s Accreditation Institute has been one of the stalwart events of the organization. Focused on faculty areas of academic and professional matters within accreditation, the Accreditation Institute has consistently been one of the ASCCC’s most informative events. The institute has been attended mostly by faculty, although it has always been open to teams of all stakeholders with the California community colleges. For many faculty leaders, the Accreditation Institute provided the first exposure to information about accreditation from outside of their own colleges, granting attendees invaluable insight into accreditation processes and procedures around the state. For several years in the early 2010s, the ACCJC worked with the ASCCC at the institute, including having the president and vice presidents of the ACCJC participate in general sessions and breakout sessions, although that role had significantly diminished prior to the introduction of new leadership to the ACCJC in 2016.
In 2017, the ACCJC held its own conference in April, about accreditation in the California community colleges, with most of the topics extended to the entities outside of the community colleges that the ACCJC also accredits, including schools in Hawaii and the Pacific islands. The ASCCC participated in that event as well as holding its own Accreditation Institute in Napa that February. After the two events were finished, the ACCJC made a decision not hold a conference in 2018 and instead to fully partner with the ASCCC to expand the Accreditation Institute. In part due to the pre-session, the 2018 Accreditation Institute was one of the largest in recent history. Recognizing the value in continuing to partner with the ACCJC, as well as understanding that faculty resources—both financial and human—are limited, the ASCCC chose to follow a similar route this year, electing to partner with ACCJC on its institute in April rather than holding two separate events.
As with the previous ACCJC conference from 2017, the 2019 ACCJC conference is aimed at all stakeholders, with a focus on administrators and ALOs. The ASCCC will be responsible for a strand on faculty roles, specific to the role of academic senates, such as how faculty should be involved in the accreditation process, online education and accreditation, and other areas. This increased faculty focus provides an opportunity for colleges to send faculty leaders as part of a diverse team including administrators, staff, and ALOs. Deploying such teams often leads to a more cohesive accreditation effort on local campuses.
Another unique opportunity presented by this joint effort is the participation and presentations by faculty and administrators from the Hawaii and Pacific island schools. Although their governance systems and structures may be different, these institutions must still meet the same accreditation standards and may provide different perspectives and ideas about continuous quality improvement aligned with the standards.
The partnership between the Academic Senate and the ACCJC is expected to lead to better cooperation between local faculty, staff, administrators, and the ACCJC. This relationship is further buoyed by the inclusion of more faculty on visiting teams. While past visiting teams have always included some faculty, the effort to have a more significant number of faculty has been complicated recently by a dearth of faculty volunteers.
The structure of the ACCJC conference will be different from that of the past ASCCC Accreditation Institutes. Unlike the ASCCC institutes that generally run Friday through Saturday, the ACCJC conference will run from Wednesday, through Friday and will include a pre-conference on April 30, with training for new ALOs as well as training for faculty and other potential reviewers who may want to serve on a visiting team. Interested individuals can register for the ACCJC Conference at www.accjc-conference.org/register. Early bird registration ends February 8, 2019.