Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone emerges from accreditation cloud

Regional commission removes warning and reaffirms college's standing

By Matthew Artz.

Sunday, July 19, 2009—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area: The Argus.

Fremont—Ohlone College is in the clear.

The college-accrediting commission that last year gave Ohlone a stern warning about how the elected board operates has determined that the school has addressed its problems and reaffirmed its accreditation through 2014.

"I think the commission recognized our improvements," said James Wright, the school's vice president of academic affairs.

The Novato-based Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges certifies schools on a six-year schedule. It has the power to uphold a college's academic status, put it on probation or revoke its accreditation.

Last year, it issued a stinging 50-page assessment, finding "significant dysfunctionality within the board of trustees," which it further criticized for trying to micromanage the school's president and top staff. The commission also criticized the school's strategic planning process.

Had Ohlone's board of directors not addressed the commission's concerns, the school could have faced various sanctions culminating in the loss of its accreditation. That would have made it difficult for the school to offer financial aid and for students to transfer credits to four-year universities.

During the past year, the board has amended several policies so that it focuses primarily on setting policy while leaving the day-to-day operations to top district management.

"I think we've improved our relationships significantly," said Wright, who credited Ohlone President Gari Browning for getting everyone on the same page.

Browning, who previously served as associate director of the commission, joined Ohlone last year, shortly before the warning was issued. Also last year, voters didn't re-elect Bob Brunton, who had clashed with both his fellow board members and former college President Doug Treadway.

The board has codified procedures for its budgeting cycle and staff evaluations. It also changed its meeting format to help get through its agenda.

The accrediting commission removed Ohlone's accreditation warning last month after receiving a progress report submitted by the college. Ohlone next has to issue a routine "midterm" report to the commission in 2011.

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