ASCC Completes Accreditation Self-Study
July 21, 2014
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
At its meeting on Friday, July 18th, the Board of Higher Education (BHE) gave its approval to a document the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) has spent the better part of eight months preparing. With the Board’s approval, ASCC may now submit its Self-Study to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), a division of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. A team representing the ACCJC will review the ASCC Self-Study in advance of making a site visit to the College in September of this year as part of the WASC accreditation renewal process.
Institutions accredited by WASC are reviewed on a six-year cycle, which involves not only a site visit but also an extensive Self-Study in which the administration, faculty and staff of a college or university collaborate to address in detail how their institution meets the standards determined by WASC. Upon submission, a team of ACCJC representatives conducts a careful reading of the Self-Study to determine their priority areas for further inquiry in advance of the actual site visit.
While the process may sound straightforward enough, addressing the WASC standards in fact requires careful review of data from the past six years, explanation of the institution’s methods and rationales, and an honest analysis of the institution’s own strengths and weaknesses. ASCC began work on its Self-Study in December of 2013, with a Steering Committee directing the overall process and 11 subcommittees formed to focus on the four main WASC standards. Each subcommittee comprised eight to 12 members representing the administration, faculty and staff, and the head of each subcommittee was also a member of the Steering Committee. In total, more than 150 ASCC personnel contributed to the effort.
The four areas the WASC standards focus on are Mission, Academic Quality and Institutional Effectiveness; Student Learning Programs and Support Services; Resources; and Leadership and Governance. The Self-Study is expected to address a number of specific concerns branching off from each of these areas, which meant that each subcommittee needed to collaborate not only on forming responses, but also on finding the necessary references and data to lend their answers credibility. Throughout spring 2014, work on the Self-Study proceeded as the committee members balanced meeting sessions with the regular duties that an in-progress semester entails. The effort accelerated following the spring commencement in May, and concluded this month when the Steering Committee completed its final review and the BHE approved the resulting document.
On behalf of ASCC President Dr. Seth Galea’i, Accreditation Liaison and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Kathleen Kolhoff-Belle thanked the Steering Committee and Subcommittee members for their months of work on the Self-Study. Dr. Kolhoff-Belle also reflected on how the Self-Study process provides those who participate with an opportunity to better understand the institution’s inner-workings and its philosophical foundation of student-centeredness. “Through the self study process we look at all the institutional activities with the focus of how they contribute to student learning and how they help ASCC meet its mission," she said. “We know we are all here for the students, but it is good to make deliberate links throughout the process and ask ourselves what we can do better.”
The Self-Study Steering Committee consisted of President Dr. Seth Galea’i; Dr. Kolhoff-Belle, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs; Dr. Rosevonne Pato, Vice President of Administrative Services; Tapaau Dr. Dan Aga, Dean/Director, Community & Natural Resources; Mrs. Emey Silafau-Toa, Chief Financial Officer; Mrs. Letupu Moananu, Dean of Academic Affairs; Dr. Emilia Le’i, Dean of Student Services; Mr. Michael Leau, Dean of Trades & Technology; Dr. Lina Galea’i-Scanlan, Dean of Teacher Education; Ms. Grace Tulafono, Chief Information Officer; Mrs. Sereima Asifoa, Director of Human Resources; Mr. Sonny Leomiti, Director of Institutional Effectiveness; Mr. Elvis Zodiacal, Director of Learning Resource Center; Mrs. Keseta Okenaisa Fauolo-Manila, Director of Samoan Studies Institute; Ms. Tafaimamao Tupuola, Director of University Center for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities; and Ms. Sifagatogo Tuitasi, Director of Admissions, Registrar & Financial Aid Office.