Merritt College submitted a Midterm Report to the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) on March 15, 2012. At the ACCJC June 6-8, 2012 Commission Meeting, Merritt College was “Continued on Warning” on the basis of the submitted Midterm Report. The College President was notified of the Commission’s Action in a letter dated July 2, 2012 that stated: “ . . . while evidence identifies progress, the District/Colleges have not achieved compliance with Standard III.D and Eligibility Requirements #5 and #17. Specifically, the District/Colleges do not demonstrate the fiscal capacity to adequately support quality student learning programs and services. Therefore, in order to meet Standards and Eligibility Requirements, the District/Colleges must evaluate the impact of financial decisions on educational quality and implement actions to resolve any deficiencies.”
The Commission asked the College to fully evaluate “ . . . the impact of recent District financial decisions on the College’s ability to sustain educational programs and services . . .” and to provide clarity regarding “ . . . the specific impact the reductions or changes had and what the future impact of those reductions and changes would be at the college. The College’s response should include an analysis of staff sufficiency and the quality of educational programs and services before and after budget reductions with sufficient detail and evidence to evaluate the impact of these reductions on the overall educational quality of the College. The College should describe how it intends to deal with any resulting negative impact.”
The Commission’s Action Letter to Merritt College specified responses to three District level Commission Recommendations and one College level Commission Recommendation as follows:
The College initiated meetings beginning July 2012 in response to the ACCJC Commission Action letter. Interim President, Dr. George Herring and Interim Vice President of Instruction and Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO), Anita M. Black immediately convened a group of faculty, staff, and administrators to develop a plan to address Recommendation 5 and to update, revise, and align the College’s Integrated Planning and Budgeting model with the District’s calendar for budget development. At the same time, the Presidents of the four Colleges in the Peralta Community College District and District Administrative Officers began meeting with Chancellor Wise Allen to formulate planning processes for District and College level responses to all of the Commission Recommendations.
Effective June 30, 2012, Dr. Wise Allen, Chancellor of the Peralta Community College District retired, and Dr. José M. Ortiz assumed the Chancellor’s position July 1, 2012. Dr. Ortiz continued meetings with the College presidents and District-level administrative officers to facilitate District and College responses to the Commission Action letter Recommendations, to support collaborative and coordinated planning processes, and to synchronize timelines for the preparation of March 15, 2013 Follow-Up Reports to the Commission.
In September 2012, Merritt’s Interim President, Dr. George Herring stepped down. While the District and College commenced the search process for a new, permanent President to assume leadership responsibilities for Merritt College by January 2013, Dr. Patricia Stanley was appointed to lead the institution and served as Merritt’s Interim President through January 2013.
September 12, 2012 marked the first formal fall term “Kick-Off” meeting of the College’s Accreditation Committee the composition of which includes key faculty, staff, and administrators. President Stanley outlined the important charge of the committee’s work and responsibilities. Anita M. Black, Interim Vice President of Instruction and ALO, led the meeting, distributed a calendar, and proposed a schedule for completion of the first draft of the Merritt College March 2013 Follow-Up Report by December 12, 2012. The schedule allowed for adequate committee planning, the establishment of a team writing process, dissemination and affirmation of the draft report via the College’s Shared Governance Committee structures, and submission of a first draft of the report to the District Office by December 12, 2012. The schedule and deadline for the first draft of the report were amended for an earlier submission date of December 1, 2012.
Throughout the fall 2012 semester, the Merritt College Accreditation Committee adhered to the committee planning process and any changes to the meeting schedule. The committee experienced several starts and stops while formulating a structured plan for an effective written response to Commission Recommendation 5 and Eligibility Requirements #5 and #17. In the end, those starts and stops in the planning and writing process paid off, resulting in a refined, detailed and thorough analysis and writing framework for Merritt College to fully evaluate the impact of the District and Merritt’s financial decisions regarding the College’s ability to sustain quality educational programs and services. As an added value, these stops and starts strengthened the Accreditation Committee’s five-year analysis of the College’s fiscal resources and review of the impact of budget cuts and changes over a three-year fiscal period. In addition, the in-depth analysis of institutional financial resources allowed college constituencies to use findings and results as the impetus for identifying strategies to improve the College’s integrated planning, budgeting, decision-making processes, and overall institutional effectiveness.
On January 17, 2013 during the spring Merritt College Flex Day Professional Development Program for faculty and staff, the draft report was disseminated college wide and Anita M. Black, Vice President of Instruction and ALO, and Dr. Audrey Trotter, Faculty, Co-Chair of the Accreditation Follow-Up Report, made a presentation to the College community on the preparation of the report, findings, and next steps in the process for finalizing the report. Accreditation Committee members were also formally introduced and acknowledged for their individual contributions. Faculty and staff were asked to review the draft and to provide feedback on the accuracy of data and information included in the report. The College’s shared governance committees also began to meet and to evaluate the report through formal committee procedures. At the same time, the editor, Dr. Chriss Warren Foster began the final steps in the editing of the report prior to submission for a first reading and then final approval by the Chancellor and Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees.
Between September and December 2012, Interim President Patricia Stanley and Interim Vice President of Instruction and ALO Anita M. Black continued to participate in regularly scheduled District level Accreditation Committee meetings. Participants included District Administrative Leaders, the College President, and ALOs from all four Colleges in the Peralta Community College District. These meetings prompted continued sharing of ideas and district wide collaboration in concert with the preparation of the college Follow-Up Reports. In January 2013, President Norma Ambriz-Galaviz joined Anita M. Black in the District and College level meetings through the submission of the final report.
Dr. Norma Ambriz-Galaviz