By Cassie Ordonio
City College expected the unexpected when it was reaffirmed its accreditation for the next seven years by a commission who once threatened its very existence.
The news conference held in Diego Rivera Theater erupted to an encore and a standing ovation on Jan. 13 when Interim Chancellor Susan Lamb gave the official reassurance.
“I got to admit, I was speechless––it was a singular moment,” Lamb said.
Speechless was the appropriate response, because the college was aware the commission was meeting this month for a three-day period, and expected the news to be delivered close to Valentine’s Day.
Lamb received the email of confirmation just 30 minutes before she received a call from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) that afternoon, and expressed her gratitude shortly after in an email sent to the college community.
“I especially appreciate the leadership within the Academic Senate, the Classified Senate, the Associated Students, the Department Chair Council, AFT 2121, SEIU 1021, the administrators, and the Board of Trustees who stepped up to ensure such a positive outcome,” Lamb said.
In 2012, the ACCJC was to terminate the college’s accreditation. The following year the college was on the verge of closing which heavily impacted the devastating drop in student enrollment, causing a slight rift between faculty and administration.
The college went from serving approximately 100,000 to 65,000 students, according to the headcount data in the college’s website.
The Guardsman reported that the “ACCJC, in a 2013 lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, was found guilty of ‘significant unlawful practices’ in their attempts to terminate City College’s accreditation.”
Protests boomed throughout the City College community, as the teachers union AFT 2121 and many more allies sounded the alarm to fight for fair accreditation.
“When a bully in power is trying to do unreasonable harmful things, that proper response is not accommodation or acquiescence, but the proper response is resistance,” Mandelman said at the news conference describing the fight between the college and fair accreditation.
The ACCJC’s new visiting team came to the college back in Oct. with new standards and practices that have been changed slightly over two years, but highlight four standards: focusing on improvement of quality, student outcomes, improving consistency and clarity of standards and practices.
Since its extended accreditation, the college is focused on rebuilding enrollment.
“The college has learned a lot, the Trustees will be keeping a closer eye on things than past boards may have and I’m confident seven years from now that we’ll get good news again,” Board of Trustee Tom Temprano said.
The college community is hopeful history will not repeat itself.
“I think the likelyhood is not a possibility because now we’re on a regular cycle. The accreditation crisis should have never happened in the first place, and it really was the commission out of control, and so hopefully this is a sign that ACCJC will be fair,” AFT 2121 President Tim Killikelly said.