by Ryan Burns
In its struggle to remain an accredited school, College of the Redwoods just took an important step back from the cliff. CR President Katherine Smith this morning received notice that the community college has been removed from "show cause" status -- the final stage before losing accreditation -- and put back on "probation," which is still serious but not borderline catastrophic. (Without accreditation, students wouldn't be able to transfer credits from CR courses to other schools, making its degrees all but worthless.)
Smith struck an ecstatic tone in an email sent this morning to faculty and staff:
Dear CR Colleagues,
It is with great pleasure and extraordinary relief that I can announce to you that the action letter I received from the ACCJC [Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges] this morning has removed College of the Redwoods from Show Cause and placed us on Probation! Congratulations to all of us, as the hard work that we have accomplished has paid off!
The accrediting commission, an arm of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, placed CR on "show cause" status a year ago, citing problems that dated to 1999, including inadequate measurement of student outcomes, insufficient employee evaluations and sub-par communication from the Board of Trustees.
While today's news is certainly positive, the accrediting commission cautioned that CR still has work to do before sanctions are removed entirely. (Click here for a pdf of the commission's letter.) Specifically, CR must foster more opportunities for professional development, address employee equity and diversity, and improve fiscal management, among other goals.
"College of the Redwoods should fully resolve the deficiencies noted by October 2013 or the Commission will be compelled to take adverse action," states commission President Barbara Beno in the action letter to Smith.
But for now, Beno continues, "The institution's accreditation has been extended for good cause."
Smith, who is in her first year as president, following the unpopular and controversial Dr. Jeff Marsee, closed her email to colleagues with gratitude:
"Again, CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU for all the effort everyone put into this! It is indeed a good day at CR!"