College issued accreditation warning

The regional commission that oversees college standards says Lane Community College needs to strengthen student and program assessment. If Lane fails to meet compliance with its accreditation body it could face sanctions and loss of accreditation.

Lane Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Dawn DeWolf has announced that the administration will be meeting with Lane’s accreditation body on Jan. 23 to discuss the college’s current non-compliance status.

In July 2016, President Mary Spilde received a letter stating that Lane was not in compliance with the standards of its accreditation body, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. This non-compliance has resulted in a public warning being posted on NWCCU’s website.

NWCCU is a non-profit entity recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the regional authority for educational accreditation. The NWCCU’s non-compliance procedure includes a multi-step process of standard and reporting compliance. Lane has currently progressed to the warning stage of the commission’s non-compliance procedure. If Lane does not come into compliance with the NWCCU’s recommendation it could face probation procedures and loss of accreditation.

In March 2016, Lane made an ad hoc report to the NWCCU addressing the seven recommendations made by the commission.

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities response letter in July 2016 stated, “The commission determined that Recommendations four and five of the Fall 2014 Year Seven Peer-Evaluation Report continue to be areas where the college does not meet the commission’s criteria.  Accordingly the Commission imposed a warning, which is a public sanction.”

The letter goes on to describe how under Department of Education regulation and commission policy the college must come into institutional compliance with its recommendations in a prescribed two year period.

Commission recommendations four and five concern student assessment of learning and rigor of course content. They also address quality and relevancy of the college’s program and service offerings. Both of these recommendations address reporting of such data and accurate review processes.

Concerns are growing in the faculty over how the administration will address this issue and there is frustration that the administration hasn’t taken any action since it received the warning letter in July 2016. The commission’s recommendations call for campus-wide policies to be implemented. The faculty bargaining team has continuing questions as to what these new policies and procedures will look like and what additional time and compensation they will receive for the additional work.

The current understanding is that the two year compliance period began with the initial receipt of NWCCU’s recommendations in late Winter 2015. This would make the deadline for institutional compliance fall 2017. If the college does not meet this deadline it could escalate to the probation stage of NWCCU’s non-compliance procedure.

In December 2016 an email from the faculty bargaining team said, “Administration claims that they are still working on figuring out what NWCCU wants and when they want it, over five months after receiving the warning letter, is incongruous.”

With Spilde retiring this spring it will be up to the incoming college president to immediately implement policy that will bring the college into compliance.