Because of the ongoing pandemic, PCC’s evaluation by the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), which occurred on Monday, March 8th through Thursday, March 11th looked very different from 2015, when the institution was last visited.
“This is entirely a virtual visit. No one’s going to be on campus,” Crystal Kollross said.
Dr. Thea Alvarado and Crystal Kollross, co-chairs of the Accreditation Standing Committee, have worked tirelessly to ensure that PCC is accurately represented via webcam. While the evaluation and interview processes are unfamiliar, PCC is still focused on one familiar goal.
“We really believe in what we do at this college, and we believe that’s the best way to present ourselves to the commission,” Kollross said in a town hall meeting regarding the ACCJC’s visit.
While the pandemic has compromised many on-campus events, PCC students still had the opportunity to participate in this year’s evaluation. Kollross encouraged students to share their experience with the accreditation site team at the virtual open forums, which occurred on Monday, March 8, and Tuesday, March 9.
The virtual evaluation process is not the only significant shift in this year’s visit. According to PCC President Dr. Erika Endrijonas, the leadership and personnel within the ACCJC have shifted dramatically since the campus was last evaluated.
“In many cases when teams arrived at college campuses, it was, let’s figure out how you’re not meeting the standard,” Dr. Endrijonas said.
With new leadership within the ACCJC, institutions now construct a self-evaluation report in which they set goals to achieve over an 8-year cycle. Unlike previous visits where accreditation site teams used their institution as the standard, PCC will be evaluated simply based on its effort toward achieving individual goals.
Endrijonas said PCC’s accreditation status would not be voted on until June, but a report-out meeting was held on Thursday, March 11, where the accreditation site team shared some of their findings. If approved, Endrijonas said the institution would be accredited from June of 2021 until June of 2028, with a midterm report required in 2025.
PCC’s accreditation committee, which consists of 18 members, began writing the Institutional Self-Evaluation Report in March of 2020. Kollross said the 313-page document was constructed with contributions from over 100 people on campus.
“It was students. It was faculty. It was administration. It was the board of trustees members,” said Alvarado. “We actually reviewed over a thousand pieces of evidence.”
With coronavirus restrictions easing up as more individuals are vaccinated, Kollross said there is a possibility the accreditation evaluation process might remain virtual.
“We suspect that going into the future, they may continue to be this way, or at least partially this way,” Kollross said. “It’s a lot easier on the site team because otherwise a lot of them have to travel, stay in hotels, be away from home.”
Endrijonas said that having remote accreditation evaluations have saved institutions a lot of time and resources. In previous years, PCC was responsible for hosting all of the ACCJC evaluation site team members.
“We would make sure they had everything they needed at the hotel,” Dr. Endrijonas explained. “And we would, you know, oh, you have a meeting with some folks we’ll take you over to that meeting […] it’s a lot of hosting.”
Though the evaluation looks very different from previous years, PCC’s Accreditation Standing Committee has prepared to virtually showcase PCC and all of the aspects that make up the institution; which should not be difficult to accomplish.
“I think we do a pretty darn good job here,” said Endrijonas.