Special board meeting tackles accreditation questions


Erick Pirayesh, Associate Editor

The City College Board of Trustees held a special meeting Thursday Sept. 20 to discuss a series of questions submitted by the Accreditation Task Force.

After being placed on warning in March by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges for failing to adhere to self-appointed policies and processes. Superintendent-President Lori Gaskin formed the Accreditation Task Force. The 6-member group has been appointed to conduct a self-assessment on the board of trustees.

“One of our goals is to be off warning,” said Board President Dr. Peter Haslund, at Thursday’s meeting. “That’s our primary goal.”

The 12 questions submitted varied from perceived roles, to board member orientation, and were designed to generate discussion regarding leadership and board policy.

Gaskin described the meeting as a “very broad based introspective look at ourselves.”

Trustee Joan Livingston, who has been a member since 1993 and will leave the board this fall, was critical of the board’s lack of trust.

“Were not getting the same sort of candid environmental discussion,” said Livingston. “I feel like there’s a climate of fear and intimidation.”

Livingston was also critical of Haslund’s approach to new board member orientation.

“It’s the duty of the board president under board policy to orient new members,” she said. “I think any criticism of how orientation went needs to stay with the fact you were elected.”

Fellow trustee Luis Villegas, who has also been a member since 1993 and will leave this fall, feels the board majority lacks understanding of their current governing roles.

“I perceive my role as one of oversight, and I think that’s been lost on this board,” said Villegas. “I think the board majority feels they were elected to operate this college. I think that’s a major failing.”

Villegas noted that the board’s lack of continuous improvement could be partly attributed to the large focus of the restructuring of the Continuing Education program.

“We have been consumed with Continuing Education,” he said. “We have been consumed with a secondary mission, I think we’ve been failing in the terms of the context of our mission.”

The board suggested a community survey to better identify their needs basis and gain a greater understanding of college demographics.

“There is a time when we want to survey the community, and this may be the time,” said Haslund. “I think that’s a great idea.”

The board is required to present a report to the accrediting commission by March 13, 2013 that all violations have been rectified. The reports submittal will be followed by a campus visit from the commission.

A draft of the colleges report will be released to the public Dec. 4.