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The Academic Senate voiced its concerns about PCC’s consideration of hiring a third-party consultant as recommended by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).

The ACCJC has recommended the campus improve upon the shared governance process, collegiality, and campus climate in the last three Accreditation Evaluations. This third-party consultant would make recommendations about disputes, so as to better the climate on campus.

“It is recommended that a neutral, third-party consultant be engaged to facilitate discussions and resolution of issues with campus climate, collegiality, and shared governance,” reads the handout provided at the Oct. 7 Senate meeting.

The College Council report, made by Pat Rose, sparked a debate about possible problems surrounding this potential position. Rose spoke of the concerns that College Council had, which the Senate echoed.

Senator Stephanie Fleming asked if the person would be a consultant or a mediator. “Those are two very different things,” she said.

According to Fleming, a consultant would make recommendations while a mediator would help to reach an agreement between two parties. Referring to the handout, it was confirmed that the person would be a consultant.

“Dr. Rocha did decide to do this,” said Rose. Fleming agreed, saying that while this is a developing process, it seems that Mark Rocha, superintendent-president of PCC, is supporting the idea.

“I got the sense that he was concerned about the atmosphere on campus affecting accreditation,” commented Senator Dan Haley.

One of the biggest concerns was the effectiveness of hiring such a person. According to Rose, the College Council has asked for evidence that this person would actually help.

Another question was whether this position was just for show to help with accreditation, or would the consultant actually have some power. “Would they have any teeth?” asked Rose.

The thing that got the Senate talking the most was the concept of how the consultant would be chosen. The Senate wanted to be able to have some part in that decision.

“The Academic Senate should have a voice at the table of who is chosen as the third-party consultant,” said Lauren Arenson, anthropology instructor. She wanted to make sure the appropriate consultant was chosen, not just who the administration thinks would be best.

“I’m not speaking for AS,” said Student Trustee Simon Fraser. “But I know they want a voice [too].” Fraser explained that since it could affect accreditation, AS would want to have a say in who the consultant would be. Accreditation decides whether the classes students take at PCC count toward transfer or if they, as Fraser put it, “…are not worth the paper they are printed on.”

The idea was that those who would use the consultant should have a say in choosing the proper person for the job.

“Everyone should have a say,” said Fleming. “I completely agree with that.”

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