Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Accreditation reaffirmed for Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges

Students at Cuyamaca College
Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges have received notice of reaffirmation of their accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. 

The commission notified the colleges Monday of the decision made at its meeting earlier this month. Regional accreditation is crucial for an institution of higher education because it provides quality assurance to the public, allows students to transfer credits to other colleges and universities, and allows the institution to be eligible for federal financial aid. 

Chancellor Lynn Neault said both colleges should take pride in their longstanding track record of reaffirmed accreditations, a review process that takes place every seven years. Grossmont College’s history dates back to its opening in 1961, while Cuyamaca College began serving students in 1978.

“The commission recognized the outstanding work the colleges are doing to provide high academic standards and promote student success,” Neault said. “It is undeniable that our employees are doing exemplary work to make our colleges high-quality and welcoming institutions for all students who come to us for their education.”

 Following evaluation visits by peer review teams in late September, both colleges were commended for their exemplary commitment to student equity and closing achievement gaps for students from underserved communities.

The commission commended Cuyamaca College for its use of data to improve student learning and achievement.

“The college’s commitment to equity and the effective use of data permeates throughout the institution and has led to numerous examples of continuous innovation, dialogue, and improvement,” the commission said.

Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes said the commission’s praise is welcome recognition of the college’s efforts to help students succeed.

“The commendation is a particular point of pride that speaks to the equity-minded efforts that Cuyamaca College values so deeply and drives the work that we do each day,” she said.

 Cuyamaca College has been a leader in accelerated remediation for basic skills courses, which removes obstacles to students who need to complete English, math and English as a Second Language courses. It was recognized by the state Chancellor’s Office in 2018, when it received the Dr. John Rice Diversity and Equity Award, and received national recognition in 2019 as a finalist for Examples of Excelencia recognition for promoting Latino success in higher education. 

Grossmont College was commended for its “equity-focused mission statement,” and for
Students at Grossmont College
ensuring that college programs, services and practices are aligned with the college mission.

 “The college’s deep commitment to equity is manifested in their efforts to infuse equity in everything they do, and a part of everyone’s responsibility,” the commission said.
Grossmont College President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh praised the campus community for finding new ways to unify and to help students achieve their goals.

“It is a great point of pride that our peer review team issued a commendation to our college for its commitment to equity,” he said. 

Grossmont College was named as one of 150 community colleges in the nation that are eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement among community colleges. For the second year in a row, the college was also recognized as a 2019 Champion of Higher Education by the Campaign for College Opportunity for its work to significantly increase the number of students earning an Associate Degree for Transfer. 

The reaffirmation of accreditation is for 18 months, pending improvements in the areas of employee evaluations, and at Grossmont College, additional improvements to online instruction and reporting of student learning outcomes. Student learning outcomes is an assessment process to determine if students are learning what they are expected to learn.

Grossmont College in El Cajon, with about 16,000 students, has been serving East County since 1961, while Cuyamaca College, with about 9,000 students at its Rancho San Diego campus, has been serving the area since 1978. Both colleges are part of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. 

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges evaluates all associate degree-producing colleges, both private and public, in the western region, including California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. It is the accrediting agency for all 115 community colleges in California.

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