The only community college on island was recently twice visited by members of the accreditation commission, and Northern Marianas College president Dr. Sharon Y. Hart said both visits ended with positive notes from the accreditation inspectors.
“Dr. Smith (team leader) provided positive feedback as to the significant amount of evidence provided,” said the president in an email circulated among all NMC employees.
The accrediting team visits took place on Oct. 21 and 22 and an oral exit report was shared with the college.
Hart said the first day visit was called the “Substantive Change” visit and pertained to the accreditation of NMC’s only baccalaureate degree program. This has already been resolved with the decision of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to approve NMC’s proposal to include the School of Education’s four-year baccalaureate program under the commission’s accreditation purview.
It was learned that the second visit, called the “Show Cause Visit,” also ended with a verbal report provided to the college indicating a summary of its observations and comments.
Hart shared that the team noted that all key administrative vacancies at the college have been filled and the institution is moving from shared to participatory governance. The president, it was also noted, is involved in the hiring of faculty.
The team also noted the new board policy and associated procedures establishing minimum faculty qualifications for hiring all new faculty members. Hart said the team noted the 10 most recently hired faculty who are qualified under the new policy. She said the ratio of part-time to full-time faculty has been established and the institution is adhering to these.
According to Hart, a total of 95 percent of the faculty evaluations were completed on time compared to about 30 percent a year ago. Feedback, she said, is also being given on time to make improvements the following semester.
“A significant amount of training has taken place on governance. The college is shifting to participatory governance. The IE Guide has been updated. Board policies exist that clearly define the role of the board and the president. The board has undergone training to deepen their understanding of these roles, as has the college community. The policy on honorary regents has been removed by the Board of Regents. Policies exist that clearly define the roles of the board. Observed a college campus culture that is much different than what was observed by the team in 2012. The processes the college went through to accomplish [all of these] were difficult,” notes the president.
Hart said the question the visiting team still has relates to that of “sustainability” and how the college and the board will continue to sustain the momentum on all progress made to date.
Hart recognized the dedication and commitment demonstrated by the staff for the important occasion.
“As we all know, the show-cause team visit does not end our time on these eligibility requirements and standards. It is imperative that we continue to build on these and demonstrate continuing progress over time,” said Hart.
She disclosed that in mid-December, NMC will have the opportunity to present to the commission a supplemental report, which will then be followed with a meeting with the full ACCJC Commission in mid-January.