The 12-member evaluation team assembled by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and headed by Dr. Erlinda Martinez, spent months reviewing the College's Self Evaluation report before their on-site visit last week. In their exit meeting, Team Chair Martinez spoke to the campus on what the team found--an overall assessment of the College with commendations for area in which we excel and recommendations for improvement. In the official report, which will be sent to ACCJC, the exact wording of the assessment, commendations and recommendations may change.
Excerpts from the overall assessment of the college by the visiting team:
--We (the team members) all want to work here. The spirit of a shared mission is like none we've ever seen. Leeward is doing the right things and doing them well. Leeward has shown a willingness to innovate, and the team found a culture that fosters collaboration and is open to risk taking
Seven Commendations by the visiting team
1. Team commends college on process and development of mission statement, the extensive dialogue among all of the constituencies, and the ongoing commitment and dedication to the linking of mission, strategic plan, annual program review, assessment and resource prioritization.
2. Team commends college for the successful focused efforts to increase the number of graduates and transfers in all programs by 25%. This is a remarkable achievement.
3. Team commends the college for extensive dialogue and exploration of alternative models for student success in basic skills by implementing a variety of curriculum and support changes such as improved developmental educational counseling and tutoring and accelerated courses in English reading and writing and the emporium model in math, both of which shorten and focus the previous sequences.
4. Team commends the college for its commitment to its native Hawaiian students and their culture and the college's successful efforts to increase native Hawaiian participation at Leeward Community College. The visible outreach and support provided by faculty and staff at the Wai'anae site and the significant institutional support of the Hālau 'Ike O Pu'uloa along with the Hawaiian student support program are exemplary.
5. Team commends the college for the implementation of student support services such as new student orientation, initial counseling and the Maka'ala program and for the increased institutional focus on student success.
6. Team commends the college for the dramatic change in student government and student life since the 2006 recommendation. Not only has the college implemented a program to develop student leadership, student government has become an integral part of the campus decision making process. Additionally in the past three years, the student life office has cultivated a robust co-curricular experience which engages student participation through activities, clubs, social media, student publications and marketing materials.
7. Team commends the college for the strides that it has made in shared governance since the last visit that now include robust engagement by students, employee groups and faculty by providing a voice to these groups in college and system wide dialogue about institutional effectiveness.
Two Recommendations by the visiting team
1. The college needs to insure that the course requirements for any AAS degrees are consistent with the general education philosophy as outlined in the college catalogue and, in so doing, carefully consider the rigor of the courses needed to fulfill the degree requirements.
2. In order to continue to improve educational access for students at Wai'anae, the team recommends the college move forward expeditiously to plan and implement an expanded facility that will adequately serve the community.
Chancellor Cabral states, "I can't express enough how appreciative and how impressed I am with our campus as we all joined together and participated in last week's 3-day Accreditation Site Team visit. The commitment I've seen from every area of campus and the pride in our college that I've witnessed by our faculty, staff and students are just so incredibly moving to me personally.
My most heartfelt mahalo nui loa to each and everyone here at Leeward for contributing to making our college the most special place to work and where we strive daily to create a place where we nurture and inspire our students to reach their highest potential."
Now that the site team visit is complete, here's what we can expect to happen "after the visit". The Team Chair prepares the final report on our college and sends it to ACCJC for review and editing. It is then sent to Leeward's Chancellor and visiting team members to correct errors of fact only and not the findings. The Commission reviews report, meets Jan 13, 2013 and acts on the report and acts on the status of college. The college is notified of its status by February 1, 2013.