Accreditation visitors come to ARC


American River College Dean of planning, research and technology Adam Karp speaks to a member of the accreditation committee in front of the Learning Resource Center during one of the stops of the campus tour on Tuesday. (Photo by Barbara Harvey)

John Ferrannini

A previous version of the photo caption incorrectly identified Adam Karp by his former title as the dean of fine arts. It has been updated to reflect that he is now the dean of planning, research and technology.

The committee evaluating whether American River College should remain an accredited school arrived Monday and will be visiting the campus until Thursday.

Accreditation determines whether units students earn at the school can be transferred to other colleges and whether students can continue to receive financial aid.

The visit comes at the end of a six-year-long self-evaluation by the college. The school’s self-evaluation report was sent to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) over the summer.

WASC has sent 12 representatives to ARC made up of faculty and administration from other schools and districts in California.

The group is led by East Los Angeles College president Marvin Martinez. Tuesday was their first day on the main campus after visiting the Natomas, Mather and McClellan centers on Monday.

The twelve representatives are currently verifying the facts included in the school’s self-evaluation report sent to WASC over the summer.

Specifically, the committee is seeking both visual and paper evidence of what was said in the self-evaluation report.

Four members of the committee spoke during an hour-long forum in the Student Center community rooms.

“We’re finding really interesting things here. We’ve spent hours reading all about you and then we find the gossip and the dirt,” said David Bugay, one of the representatives and the vice chancellor of human resources at the South Orange County Community College District. “I intend to steal as much as I can and take it to my college.”

The panel was impressed by the college’s interest-based approach (IBA) training.

IBA is a district-wide method of communication and problem solving that seeks to build consensus among people having a disagreement that has been used at ARC for over two decades.

“Other colleges call and you help solve their problems? And you guys still get along?” said Bugay jokingly. “It’s those ideas that we’re going to steal from you, by the way.”

Added Martinez: “That’s really unique. If we had this way of working with each other, that would help solve issues.”

ARC Academic Senate President Tony Giusti told the panel that ARC has a “culture of collaboration.”

“That’s the culture you’re going to find here at ARC,” said Giusti. “I’ve had the pleasure of being at the new faculty orientation and I said ‘If you have an issue, come and talk to somebody.’ A faculty member asked ‘what’s the secret’ and I said ‘It’s not a secret. It’s conversations.’”

The panel was also impressed with the availability of professional development at the school and in the Los Rios district.

Kale Braden, the interim dean of Fine and Applied Arts, said that he served on the WASC visiting committee that evaluated Cerritos College.

“You’re on a committee of equals,” said Braden. “Everyone has a different expertise. When I was a faculty member and I was academic senate president, I said ‘I need to see the senate’ and I was able to meet with them on a peer basis and integrate that into the report.”

After the external report is completed and presented in the ARC theater on Thursday at 12:15 p.m., WASC’s Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) will review it and make a final decision as to whether the college will continue to be accredited.

The ACCJC is expected to make a final decision in January 2016.