President of the WASC Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges with ASCC Administration
Dr. Barbara Beno, President of the WASC Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (center), is seen here with members of the ASCC administration. Front Row (l-r): President Dr. Seth Galea'i, Vice President of Administrative Services Dr. Rosevonne Makaiwi-Pato, Dr. Beno, Palau Community College President Dr. Patrick Tellei, who accompanied Dr. Beno, and Human Resource Director Mrs. Sereima Asifoa. Back Row: Accreditation Liaison Officer and Office of Institutional Effectiveness Director Mr. Sonny Leomiti. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

WASC-ACCJC President Visits ASCC

May 6, 2015

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

Dr. Barbara Beno, President of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), a division of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) spent four days at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) last week to offer advice and answer questions pertaining to the Show Cause sanction imposed on ASCC by the ACCJC Commission this past February. Dr. Beno was accompanied by Dr. Patrick Tellei, President of Palau Community College and a former ACCJC Commissioner.

Following their Monday night arrival, Dr. Beno and Dr. Tellei were personally welcomed to ASCC by President Dr. Seth Galea’i on Tuesday morning prior to their first meeting of the day with the Board of Higher Education. Over the course of their four-day visit, the College arranged for Dr. Beno and Dr. Tellei to also meet with a number of ASCC stakeholders, including administrators, committees, faculty and staff, and students. The visitors also made themselves available for two question-and-answer sessions open to anyone.

“We are not here to evaluate you, nor to report back to the Commission on our findings during this visit,” explained Dr. Beno during a question-and-answer session with the faculty and staff. “We’re here simply to share whatever information we can on the issues ASCC will be addressing as a result of being placed on sanction. The ACCJC considers ASCC a valuable member of the American Pacific educational community, and is concerned about your sanctioned status. While ASCC itself needs to do the necessary work, we are here to offer any advice on areas of concern outlined in the sanction documentation.”

In their conversations with the ASCC community Dr. Beno and Dr. Tellei often focused on the areas of Assessment and Program Review, explaining how in today’s world of higher education, institutions need to utilize data-driven systems that include instruments for measuring student learning outcomes and achievement, as well as the overall effectiveness of individual programs. They also touched on financial aspects of college operation such as Total Cost of Ownership, as well as the WASC-ACCJC standards pertaining to Governance. Dr. Beno also explained how, in the big picture, WASC strives to regulate standards of education quality and sound fiscal practices as mandated by the federal government, which in recent decades as insisted on increased accountability among US colleges and universities eligible for financial aid and other federal programs.

“The visit by Dr. Beno and Dr. Tellei generated a great deal of goodwill and clarification among our administration, faculty and staff,” said ASCC Accreditation Liaison Officer Mr. Leomiti, who is also the Director of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. “It demonstrates that even though the ACCJC has placed our institution on sanction, the Commission continues to provide guidance and support to assist ASCC to fully address its deficiencies so that it will be removed from that status. In addition, the opportunity to personally meet Dr. Beno and Dr. Tellei and ask them questions went a long way towards helping our faculty and staff to bridge the gap between practice and effectiveness.”

The next official WASC-ACCJC review of ASCC will take place in October, after which the Commission will review the findings gathered during that visit at its next meeting in January 2016 and render its decision regarding ASCC’s accreditation status. Until the results of the January 2016 meetings are announced, ASCC remains fully accredited, with no change in the financial aid status of its students or the transferability of students’ credits to other colleges and universities off-island.