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Message from the State Chancellor

picture of CA State Chancellor Brice Harris

September 5, 2013

To: Supporters of City College of San Francisco

Friends and colleagues,

I am writing to keep you updated on the progress at City College of San Francisco. Much has happened at the college and considerable progress can be seen. Listed below are some of the most significant items for your information.

Plan for Meeting the Standards and Addressing the Concerns of the Commission: We have developed an online tool for monitoring progress on meeting each of the standards of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. As you will see in the “Roadmap” section at www.ccsfforward.com, there are nearly 400 different activities that we plan to accomplish as part of our plan to meet the standards. At this site members of the college family, the community at large and the media can see exactly what we are planning to do, who is responsible and by when we plan to complete the task. As you can imagine the chart changes almost daily and provides as much transparency to the process as possible.

Screening and Selection of a New Permanent Chancellor: The position of permanent Chancellor for the college has been posted and screening and interviews are under way. The initial applicant pool is every encouraging and the committee is moving quickly. The position closes on September 16, 2013, and the group has already interviewed ten candidates. I am optimistic that Dr. Agrella will make a selection soon after the closing date and that we will have the new permanent chancellor on board soon thereafter.

Personnel Additions and Changes: With help from the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, CCSF has hired a director of payroll, four payroll clerks and has on loan an internal auditor. Numerous other personnel changes have been made or are pending. Recruitment is under way for a new chief financial officer, general counsel, controller, and chief technology officer. Additional hires have been made in the Student Development and Academic Affairs divisions. In addition, all administrators have participated in a two-day professional development event focusing on planning, program review, labor relations, enrollment management and budgeting.

Support for SLOs: CCSF has provided for two Student Learning Outcomes coordinators for the 2013-14 school year. In addition, efforts have been intensified to ensure that all semester assessment deadlines are met. All department websites and course outlines are being reviewed for thoroughness and strengthened as necessary. There are a tremendous number of people in the college working on this issue and we are increasingly confident that this issue will be solved.

Cost Analysis of College Centers Progressing: A manual analysis of the cost of operations for all CCSF centers was completed using data from the 2011-12 fiscal year and will be updated with data from the 2012-13 year. In addition, the college’s 2013-14 budget will include the use of location codes for all personnel expenditures, making it easier to calculate the costs of operating the centers by their location. Better access to these data will allow the college to make informed decisions about the many sites where education is being offered.

Student Services Improvements: A new one-stop enrollment and retention approach was implemented in August by reassigning counseling and classified staff hours. In addition, Counseling Services has been reorganized under one program to allow for more consistent and efficient service delivery. Work continues in this area in an effort to ensure that the standards and sub-standards are met in the near future.

Student Fee Collections: The college has entered into a contract with a firm to administer a student payment program that will recoup past unpaid student fees. This process will ensure, not only that past fees are recouped, but also that fee collection in the future is done appropriately and in compliance with state laws.

I am optimistic that the mood on campus is growing more positive, and that all the stakeholders are turning their attention to the work outlined above, as well as on other projects specified in the action plan. It is through the work of the college faculty, staff and students that CCSF will reach its full potential.

In the past week I have also had the opportunity to speak to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce on our work to restore accreditation to the college. The civic and business leaders represented in the meeting were uniformly supportive of our efforts and expressed their willingness to help the community stay focused on the needed improvements at the college rather than criticizing the accreditation process.

Sincerely,

Brice W. Harris

 

 

______________________________________

July 19, 2013

To:        The CCSF College Community

From:     Brice W. Harris, Chancellor

             California Community Colleges

Colleagues,

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting with many of the governance leaders of City College.  I wanted to follow-up that meeting with a brief communication to everyone in the college community highlighting my conversation with your leaders on Wednesday, and supporting the message you received yesterday from Special Trustee Agrella. 

As all of you know, earlier this month the Board of Governors of California Community Colleges (BOG) voted to elevate their Special Trustee, Dr. Robert Agrella, to provide him complete decision making powers previously held by the Board of Trustees.  The BOG took this extraordinary step as a result of the recent action by the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) to terminate CCSF accreditation in July of next year.  I recommended this action to the BOG based on my belief that there is a strong likelihood of successfully appealing that decision to the commission if we can make tremendous progress in the next few months to complete the work of meeting the standards that the college has underway.  However, without the ability for very rapid decision making and quick action that reconsideration is unlikely.

In my comments to the constituent leaders on Wednesday I stressed three things:

  • We must work together to meet the accreditation standards rather than fight with the accrediting commission.  For some time there have been concerns expressed from various circles regarding regional accreditation and specifically ACCJC.  This is a debate that will continue, but it should not be fought using City College of San Francisco as the battlefield.  Regardless of how anyone feels about the rules by which our colleges are judged, they are the rules currently being followed by the other 111 colleges in the California system.  In the midst of any process like accreditation of a specific institution or program, a debate about the rules is inappropriate.  In fact, even if that debate were ultimately to be successful years from now, CCSF has a time-certain clock that continues to run.  Wasting time fighting about the rules rather than working to fully meet the standards will only ensure the loss of access to public higher education in San Francisco for 85,000 students and the loss of employment for more than 2,500 employees of the college.

 

  • Much good work has been done, but much more remains.  In reading the team report and the action letter to the college it is easy to become discouraged; however there are some very positive signs in those communications.  The college has completely satisfied some of the recommendations and, thanks to a great deal of hard work by many in the college, several others are nearing completion.  However, meeting any standard “partially” or “nearly” is still not meeting the standard, so many of the good things currently underway must simply be completed in order to satisfy the standard or sub-standard.  Now is certainly not the time to give up on the hard work that has already been invested.  Now is the time to redouble our collective efforts to ensure that when the commission reviews our appeal, they find that the standards have been fully met.

 

  • A clear roadmap to completion is necessary.  I will not suggest that this will be easy or that there is any guarantee of success at the end of the road.  I can, however, guarantee that the institution will cease to exist unless we do everything in our power to meet the standards.  Toward that end we are charting a very clear course for the tremendous amount of work that must be done.  CCSF leaders are currently creating a roadmap for our work designed to address each and every deficiency.  The result will be widely shared and carefully monitored.   The sample at http://www.ccsf.edu/ACC/ACR.PNG  gives you an idea of how carefully these plans will be developed.  The only way we can hope to get this work done is to have a clear and collective understanding of what has to be completed and who will champion the completion of each task. 

In the days ahead we will work hard to keep everyone informed.  Work has already begun in marketing for the fall term in a joint effort of the communications staff at the college and the State Chancellor’s Office.  The time pressure under which we must work will require all of us to stay engaged.  Just because we must compress the decision making process does not mean that participation and input is not needed.  In fact, the accrediting standards require that participation and input.  As I said earlier, I am optimistic that the college can retain its accreditation if all of us work together.  Thank you all for what you have done to help the college meet the standards thus far and for your continuing work with our students.