Gavilan College president Steve Kinsella announced the news in an email to all staff, which said in part: "Congratulations to you all for an outstanding display of what we do to ensure a quality education is provided to our students and the communities we serve." He credits the results to on ongoing awareness of accreditation requirements, and an institutional commitment to the standards of accreditation. "We did an outstanding job. We live the standards in everything we do. We consider the standards in our planning and our processes, and stay aware of changes as they occur."
According to the website of ACCJC, accreditation is a "voluntary system of self regulation developed to evaluate overall educational quality and institutional effectiveness." Only students of accredited institutions are eligible for federal financial aid programs, or able to transfer credits to other colleges and universities.
The letter includes two recommendations for the college, as well as five commendations., one of them for the Board of Trustees. According to President Kinsella, who sits on the accrediting commission, "As a commissioner, I see many of these reports, and it is very rare to see a Board of Trustees recognized in this way."
The report of the External Evaluation Team commended Gavilan College for: having a "dedicated, enthusiastic, and highly effective Board of Trustees, who are actively informed, engaged, and involved in institutional policies and District-wide leadership." The other commednatiosn were for:
- Collaboration between the math and English faculty, the institutional research office, and others in the creation and use of cohort-tracking systems that identify gaps in success and improve student learning
- Commitment to student support and to addressing emerging student needs, as evidenced by adoption of a college hour, creation of a mandatory student-orientation course, the RAMbassador outreach program, establishment of a Welcome Center, support services for Student Veterans, and a commitment to student leadership development.
- Taking action for financial stability by ensuring that liabilities for current retirees are fully funded and contributing to an irrevocable trust for future retirees
- A collegial and collaborative college culture that is inclusive and values the perspective of all constituencies, as evidenced by the college's Learning Council.
The commission made two recommendations to Gavilan College with a follow-up report due on March 15, 2014. The first recommendation is that the college develop and implement "an effective, systematic, and comprehensive institutional strategy closely integrating student learning outcomes with all planning and decision-making efforts and resource allocations." The second recommendation is to "conduct research and analysis to ensure learning support services for distance education are of comparable quality to those intended for students who attend the physical campus."
The complete Institutional Self-Study, the letter from the commission, and the Report of the External Evaluation Team are posted on the Gavilan College website at www.gavilan.edu/accreditation.