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SWC’s Probationary Status Leads To Changes On Campus

Audio

Aired 3/18/11

Last year, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges placed Southwestern College on probation after falling below accreditation standards. As accreditation for the local college is in jeopardy, it is leaving many students in limbo and administrators scrambling. In order for the school to keep its accreditation, SWC must make a number of significant changes recommended by the Accrediting Commission. With us today to speak about the looming accreditation issues is Southwestern Sun Newspaper Adviser Max Branscomb.

Last year, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges placed Southwestern College on probation after falling below accreditation standards. As accreditation for the local college is in jeopardy, it is leaving many students in limbo and administrators scrambling. In order for the school to keep its accreditation, SWC must make a number of significant changes recommended by the Accrediting Commission. With us today to speak about the looming accreditation issues is Southwestern Sun Newspaper Adviser Max Branscomb.

Guest

Max Branscomb, Professor of Journalism at Southwestern College, and advisor to the student newspaper the "Southwestern Sun".

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: If you would like to comment please go on line stay with us as our row gram continues here on K P B S. Your listening these days. [CHECK] the west south western college and Chula Vista on notice last year. The Academic Accredidation Commission placed the school on probation citing 10 major problems. If the problems are not [CHECK] this year the school may release its accreditation it's a big challenge for the school of students and professors of south western this month a report from the college asking how the problems will bee resolved joining us do talk about [CHECK] is Southwestern Sun newspaper adviser journalism professor Max Branscomb. Thank you.

BRANSCOMB: Thank you. Good morning.

CAVANAUGH: Now what were it may your problems cited that got southwestern on probation in the first place.

BRANSCOMB: Well there were 10 items that they cited if you like to hear them all I can ‑‑

CAVANAUGH: I guess maybe the worst ones or the most difficult ones to resolve.

BRANSCOMB: I think the most difficult ones were the campus complaint was very difficult the last few years and we had a lot of tension between administrative and the faculty and we kind of had period we didn't have a lot of process made on the our accreditation I think that has taken a turn it the better we are a now governing board majority we a few interim president [CHECK] she's done a terrific job setting us in a now positive direction I'm optimistic we will eventually get off probation.

CAVANAUGH: Were there any ethics problems sited in these pay your problems negate the accreditation upset.

BRANSCOMB: The main problems were that they felt that it previous governing board was [CHECK] managing that they were doing things and getting involved in day to day operational things that should are been left to had the professional administrators that was one issue they were, they were concerned about recently had [CHECK] money that we got, we got some money for building now problems out on the we are a big corner lot that's [CHECK] are ended up in you know ‑‑ appears to have gone to governing board candidates that was an issue but I think that is something and that has all oh been resolved.

CAVANAUGH: How did this situation come to be professor Branscomb do you have any idea.

BRANSCOMB: The accreditation situation?

CAVANAUGH: Yes.

BRANSCOMB: Well South West college has had a lot of turn over in it's upper management[CHECK] we've had five presidents in last six years. And I think had things just kind of fell to the cracks one thing i think everyone should know; is that none of these issues were about teaching and learning. The day to day instruction going on in the class rooms was going on at a very high level the accreditation commission congratulated the college in teaching in learning.

CAVANAUGH: Aside from perhaps an issue of trying to find out which certain amount of funds went which sounds rather important the idea of micromanagement and things of that nature it sounds a little in the [CHECK] to actually pull accreditation from a college; is that your take on it or do all of these ten problems really make a difference to the way this college operates.

BRANSCOMB: I think it was just a bunch of small things that added up into a situation that [CHECK] was unhappy about and the good news though I would like every one to understand i think wore going in a very positive direction I thing all 10 items are well on their way to being resolved I think by 2012we will likely be off probation and very good chance to get [CHECK] full accreditation.

CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking with journalism professor at south western Max Branscomb and we're talking about the threat to pull accreditation from South Western college because of several major problems that were noted by the western association of schools and colleges so who takes the fall for this for the fact that there were these problems that threaten the school.

BRANSCOMB: Well right now I think the idea on it campus is wore going to try not to point fingers and do what we need to get done and get it done and move forward because that's really counter productive you know there's shared responsibility there were a lot of folks including the faculty and administrative board that responsibility for the accreditation and I think it's all of our share responsibilities to get this out of the situation.

CAVANAUGH: You mentioned that you have a new interim president [CHECK] whether the old president[CHECK] left earlier this year, was there any that he was hampering the colleges efforts to resolve these matters?

BRANSCOMB: Some of the faculty members did feel that way, we kind of had an a big bog down with our technical that was one of the things we were docked for [CHECK] I think since his departure that has gun much better that was one area there were others the biggest one was regarding student learning out comes and it's kind of few requirements from the accreditation body that our college are more formal spelled out course out comes Tom students these are the things you're going to learn these are the way wore going to assess them[CHECK] to get over that bump and that was our most serious heard].

CAVANAUGH: Now how does the announcement that western association of schools colleges as you return to it as put south western college on probation trickle down effect of people knowing that does the amount of people who want to enroll in school drop off any do people ‑‑ do students become nervous do professors not want to join the staff.

BRANSCOMB: I thing all of these things we've had a marked fall off in enrollment wore often 22,000 and now we're down in the low 17's it's ‑‑ we've lost confidence in the very large way. In some segments of your community people very concerned about us being on probation and there's a lot of misconceptions too people thing that their classes won't count or wore in danger of being closed at any time. That's nut true as longs the college is open and as long as you're taking a class your classes count their transferable for your transfer programs. If the college were to close, God forbid, have [CHECK] notice. That's not going to happen.

CAVANAUGH: As I understand it the was an a major Accreditation dead line this week on Tuesday what did that deadline mean?

BRANSCOMB: What it meant was that we had five of the 10 requirements we were support to have addressed in October and the college did address them and then the remaining five were to be addressed in a report that was due this week and actually it's kind of a mile tone if us I think it report came out very well and was impressed think the faculty and administrative bored were impressed with it I think it college hear pulled together kind of pulled an all-nighter so [CHECK] and they got it done very nicely well and throughly.

CAVANAUGH: As you look down the line how many other deadlines does the school have to meet before this situation is resolved.

BRANSCOMB: Well the [CHECK] will be sending a team to visit our college in about two or three weeks they'll spend a week or Two to all of the concerns that they had before and they're going to check to so what process has bone made and then they will deliberate and give us another report probably during the summer and after that you know it depends would what else they need for us to do, which there's really toe time line about when we would get off probation or when we would learn wore still in hot water but again I'm hoping that boy next year we would are a good shot at getting off probation.

CAVANAUGH: I'm going to take it hopeful note that you have professor Branscomb and say when South Western college gets off probation how long do you think it's going to take it college to snap back from this because it sounds as if the was a rather severe reaction to the college being put on probation.

BRANSCOMB: It's going to take a little while I think we need to you know do a very through thought full job about communicating our we've been with the community here in your district and letting them known what's going on and letting them know we get our Accreditation it's okay do come to South Western college.

CAVANAUGH: Exactly. And you know schools thrive on school pride I wonder what's going on to tie to buster pride to the students at south west going through this.

BRANSCOMB: You know most of the students actually I don't think their too worried about it they want to know what's going on and they check in once a in while but I don't see a lot of ‑‑ the students have very focused on taking their college courses earning their transfer credits learning [CHECK] that's the way it should be try not to you know unduly alarm the students we try to keep it out of the class room as much as possible and focus on what wore suppose to do.

CAVANAUGH: And so you think you'll find out at the end of this year beginning of next.

BRANSCOMB: That's our hope I don't have anything in writing or heard any thing officially that that's going to happen but wore anticipate might happen.

CAVANAUGH: I appreciate you talking to us about this time.

BRANSCOMB: Thank you it's a complicated issue and I'm happy to talk about it and I hope that you can have us on again when things are even better.

CAVANAUGH: All right. Thank you Max Branscomb journalism professor Southwestern Sun news paper advisor for South Western college if you would like to to comment please go online K P B S slash these days. Next we'll hear about life on death row from a man who lived there.

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