Dr. Carol Kozeracki (center), a member of the team presenting the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), a division of WASC, shares a light-hearted moment with ASCC Office of Institutional Effectiveness (IE) Director Sonny Leomiti (left) and IE staff member Virginia Mailo-Filiga. An 11 member ACCJC team made a site visit to ASCC last week as part of the WASC six-year accreditation cycle. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

WASC-ACCJC Team Completes ASCC Site Visit

October 6, 2014

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

An 11-member team representing the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), a division of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), completed a site visit to the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) this past Friday. Under the WASC accrediting system, each institution under its purview receives a site visit every six years upon completion an internal Self-Study review. Following the site visit, the ACCJC Accrediting Commission then takes into account the institution’s Self-Study Report, as well as the report filed by the ACCJC team making the site visit, before rendering a decision to grant continued accreditation or to take other action determined as appropriate.

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 addresses a number of concerns branching off from each area, 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.

Two of the ACCJC team arrived several days in advance to conduct preliminary interviews and general preparations, and the majority of the members arrived on Monday, September 29th, and commenced with site visit activities the next day. In collaboration with ASCC Accreditation Liaison Officer and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Kathleen Kolhoff, the visiting team formulated an extensive schedule of interviews with members of the College’s administration, Steering Committee, subcommittee members, faculty and student organizations. On two occasions, open meetings were held by ACCJC team members in the ASCC Lecture Hall to which all College staff, faculty, and students were welcome. The College provided the ACCJC team with its own private workspace in the Institutional Effectiveness building, from which most of the campus is easily accessible. To assist the visitors in finding their way around campus, members of the Student Government Association acted as guides whenever needed.

The ACCJC site visit culminated with an “Exit Interview” on Friday, October 3rd in the Lecture Hall before a large audience that included members of the Board of Higher Education (BHE) as well as all levels of the ASCC community. Visiting Team Chair Gari Browning, Ph.D., shared a brief overview of the team’s findings, including both commendations as well as areas in which the team will make recommendations for improvement. As the Team Chair explained, these findings are only a general summary of what will go into the team’s final report to the ACCJC Commissioners. The Commission will hold its next scheduled meeting in January, 2015, and a decision pertaining to ASCC is expected to be announced in February. Dr. Browning made mention of the team’s gratitude to everyone at ASCC for their hospitality and cooperation, and BHE Chairman Rev. Dr. Leanavaotaua Sekuini Seva’aetasi and ASCC President Dr. Seth Galea’i both gave remarks of thanks and farewell before the ACCJC team made their exit.

In addition to Dr. Browning, President/Superintendent of the Ohlone Community College District the ACCJC team included Mary Therese Perez Hattori, Associate Professor of Information Technology for Kapi‘olani Community College; Dr. Kimberlee S. Messina, Vice President of Instruction and Institutional Research at Foothill College; Dr. Merrill Kravitz, Dean of Language Arts, Library and Learning Resources at Evergreen Valley College; Brandon Shimokawa, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services at Kauai Community College; Dr. Joe Daisy, President of the College of Micronesia-FSM; Dr. Keith Walters, Associate Professor at California Baptist University; Dr. Steven Reynolds, instructor at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, California; Dr. Carol Kozeracki, Dean of Academic Affairs at East Los Angeles College; Abbie Patterson, Vice President of Student Services at Los Angeles Harbor Community College; and Jeff O’Connell, Associate Professor at Ohlone College.