The Board of Regents of the Northern Marianas College will be evaluating its policy on the appointment of honorary members before it decides whether to remove or retain current honorary regents.
Board chair Juan T. Lizama told Saipan Tribune yesterday that the move comes in the wake of recommendation by the Accrediting Commission for Colleges and Junior Colleges to revisit the policy.
The commission had pointed out that the existence of honorary regents suggests that the college council does not truly act as the advisory group to the president.
Honorary regents sit on the board and regularly engage in direct discussions related to policy issues during board meetings. The commission said this practice violates accreditation standards, which require board independence. It was learned that this has been an ongoing concern by the commission but was never addressed by NMC, which remains under a severe show-cause status.
“As part of the college's response to the show-cause order issued by the ACCJC, NMC will be evaluating its institutional governance and decision making processes. This includes the policy on having honorary regents on the NMC Board of Regents,” said Lizama.
He said it is important that all college constituents participate in and have a “meaningful voice” in decisions that directly affect them.
“This is achieved through representation in governance groups and through other avenues. One of the ways that the college has embraced inclusiveness in its governance structure is to include representatives from the faculty, staff, and students on the college's management team,” said Lizama.
“As recommended by the commission, we will be evaluating the board's policy on honorary regents and identifying ways that can address the commission's concerns,” he added.
According to Lizama, the board takes the findings outlined by the commission “very seriously” and they will continue working on resolving the recommendations that specifically point to areas of weaknesses that the college must improve upon.
“Our goal is to work together with [NMC president Sharon Hart, Ph.D.] to come into compliance with all accreditation standards. The board understands that time is of the essence to correct these deficiencies,” Lizama added.
The ACCJC ordered NMC to submit by Oct. 15 two reports outlining the steps it has taken to address the commission's concerns. These reports will be followed by a visit of commission representatives.
NMC remains accredited during the show-cause period.