The Academic Senate voted 17 to 14 last month not to certify the final draft of the Accreditation Self-Evaluation Report after Academic Senate President Eduardo Cairó refused to sign the document because he said it was improperly created.

In a recent email sent to faculty, Cairó outlined many reasons for not signing the document.

“The process that was established by the PCC administration to produce an accurate document was a failure,” Cairó said. “The Senate did not have adequate time to review, revise, or submit changes to produce a document that is reflective of the reality at PCC since our last accreditation report.”

However, many faculty members disagreed since a draft of the self-evaluation was made public to the campus community in mid-September, which gave the Academic Senate nearly three months to look over the document for revisions.

“…The letter claims that the Senate only had three days to vet the hard copy of the document, when, in reality, an electronic copy of the final draft had been available for weeks,” wrote Accreditation Coordinator and Priorities & Planning (P&P) committee co-chair Stephanie Fleming in an email. “I am extremely disappointed because this process took place over a two-year period, allowed for widespread participation, appropriately addresses the positive and negative aspects of the college, and involved faculty input.”

In his email, Cairó seems to hold P&P responsible for the Academic Senate having little input in the final draft of the report, arguing that once P&P had gave its final approval, it would not be able to accept any changes to the document.

“From the beginning, the document was scheduled to go through P&P (ASC), and then to the Academic Senate. Because no changes were to be made once the document was approved by P&P, this process did not afford for Senate input, in itself a violation of shared governance,” said Cairó.

Early last fall, several senators took a two-day retreat with the focus of reviewing and revising the draft, and according to P&P committee co-chair, Matthew Jordan, most of the feedback from the Academic Senate was incorporated in the document.

The objective of an accreditation report is to authenticate how well a college is meeting Accreditation Standards and with the 22 faculty members who worked on drafting the Self Evaluation in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, the report is required to be an un-biased look at the campus climate.

As for report content, Cairo said the Senate felt that it “was lacking in data, evidence, and appropriate links to evidence; it also included summaries of information that were biased and misrepresentations of events since the last accreditation visit.”

In a response to the statement, Jordan said the report “contains over 700 external pieces of evidence in addition to the data charts and tables embedded in the narrative.”“I am thankful for the contributions of the students, classified staff, faculty members, and managers who worked tirelessly in producing this high quality document,” he wrote.

The Senate felt much of the content in the report was unclear and inaccurately stated, and some important issues were neglected entirely.

The Academy of Professional Learning (APL), formed by faculty members with the desire to bring professional learning to faculty, staff, and managers at all levels, sent a mass email to all faculty and staff members in response to Cairó’s email.

“These statements are untrue and call into question the intentions of the faculty who have coordinated this project…We have too much pride in our work to risk that happening,” said APL in its email.

APL provided much evidence showing communication with the Senate, including a video, emails and minutes.

“We have successfully communicated and collaborated with the Classified Senate and groups of faculty, but have been ignored by the Academic Senate Executive Board Members, giving us the impression that they are unsupportive of this faculty-led initiative,” said APL.

With this process going on two years now, both Fleming and Jordan remain hopeful and look forward to the March visit from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).

“I sincerely hope that we can continue to move forward in a collegial manner and that we find better ways to work with one another, despite our differences so that we can focus on how to successfully serve our students,” Fleming wrote.

The external evaluation site visit from the ACCJC and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges will be conducted in early March.

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5 Replies to “Academic Senate votes against Accreditation report”

  1. I have the utmost respect for the Academic Senate, and all of the shared governance groups on campus. However, the Academic Senate needs to remember that it is not the be-all and end-all of the participatory governance process. The accreditation self-study was an immensely difficult task which ended up creating a fair, reflective and proactive document that didn’t shy away from including the negative along with the positive. The Academic Senate doesn’t have the right to unilaterally make changes to this campus-wide document and process. Its opinions should be considered and weighted with the respect they deserve – just like those of the other participatory groups. But just because it didn’t go to the full Academic Senate for some sort of stamp of approval in a show of its “primacy” over the other groups, doesn’t mean it isn’t valid and that participation wasn’t broad and full.

    Stephanie Fleming has done a fantastic job with this and should be commended, as should everyone serving on the standard teams – across the board. There was plenty of time for ample feedback – heck, I was even able to submit feedback after the public release and I work full time outside of the higher education field now!

    1. That ton of feathers is very poorly written, patched together and shoved along a curiously twisty process by the remnants of Rocha’s fan club. Rushed through with just one main purpose– to try to put a shine on a rotten apple. It is grossly inaccurate, and an embarrassment to the college.
      Every professor has heard the appeal that “Well, I want an ‘A’ because it has a lot of pages, and I spent a lot of time on it!”
      Effort is commendable, but for them to expect that Faculty would OK that mess? That is beyond hilarious.

    2. Way to misread the situation. The Senate didn’t expect to give the report “some sort of stamp of approval in a show of its ‘primacy’ over the other groups.” The parties responsible for writing the report asked the President of the senate “Hey, do you approve of this report?” Obviously, he didn’t. That’s not a power play. If the proper procedure had been followed this probably wouldn’t have happened.

  2. For a student, it is quite a daunting political drama that is hard to wrap your finger on unless you were actually there, at the Senate meetings and at Planning and Priorities and this article isn’t quite accurate; in particular: “was made public to the campus community in mid-September, which gave the Academic Senate nearly three months to look over the document for revisions.” The Senate got the reports the week of Thanksgiving. Other constituent groups got their hard copies a week before or so. In any case, looking at it or not, Senators would not have been able to propose changes anyway, since Planning and Priorities Jordan and Flemming’s group decided their say would be the final.

    Also, APL was just one part of the story in this document that was a problem. There were MANY other problems throughout.

    Here’s a fun video on You Tube that more clearly explains why the Senate voted not to sign:
    It shows how inept the Board are, too!

  3. I will repeat a comment found on the Courier’s site:

    The good news is that all 400 pages can be recycled !
    Senate voted not to ask Cairo to sign that monstrosity.

    Thank goodness that academic senators are standing up for the faculty perspective. Thank goodness they have tenure, and are free to vote their conscience. Many of them did, enough to counter the tremulous nervous ones. (It is not the purpose of the Senate to advocate for admin. Administration knows quite well how to take care of itself and its interests.) It would be interesting to see inside the minds of those timid teachers who want so badly to please their ersatz “parents” in the C building. Dan Haley reminded faculty of Admin bringing Campus Police to break up a senate meeting, yet even that would not sway the boss-pleasers!
    Anyway, a refreshing bucket of cold water is good for the Trustees now and again. Wake up !

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