‘Esprit de Corps’ and ‘Charger Spirit’ Highlight Accreditation Visit

Cypress College’s Charger Spirit was on full display this week as the Accreditation Site Visit Team spent four days on campus to validate the self-evaluation report and compile commendations and recommendations to share with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).

During the team’s Thursday exit report to the college, Team Chair Pamela Luster, president at San Diego Mesa College, commended Cypress College for its “esprit de corps” — echoing verbatim the observation of the previous site visit team earlier this decade. Luster continued her praise, saying the team had a “remarkable experience” and the college “really set a tone for us.”

The exit report is not an official or final report, but is intended to provide a brief, overall update to the campus. The team will deliver a preliminary report to the college for factual corrections, then submit the final report to ACCJC. The Commission will then evaluate and announce the college’s accreditation status after a January meeting.

Luster noted the impressive attendance at the two open forums on campus, which “informed on the quality of life here at the college.” Dozens of faculty, staff, and students filled the forums to champion programs and services from across campus.

In an employee-wide email, Cypress College President JoAnna Schilling, Ph.D., thanked the “entire campus community for your hospitality and participation this week.”

The Site Visit Team was on campus Monday, October 9 through Thursday, October 12. They participated in 33 meetings and interviewed 73 members of the campus community. They also attended a number of committee meetings.

The team noted nine commendations, four recommendations for improvement, and one compliance recommendation. In addition, they offered three district commendations and three district recommendations for improvement during the exit report.

In this instance, commendations are for programs that are exceptionally innovative, successful, and unique, Luster said. The team said more programs than those listed below could have been included, but the following stood out in particular:

• The Institutional Research and Planning Office for its role in the college’s data-based decision-making;
• The clean, safe, and beautiful campus at the college and its enhancement of the student learning experience;
• The college’s esprit de corps, collegiality, and hugely apparent Charger Spirit;
• Innovation and collaboration in the Counseling Division, and implementation of the Cranium Café online video counseling platform;
• The Financial Aid Office for its work reducing loan default rates;
Student Services for its focus on outcomes and moving from “one stop” to “non-stop”;
• The (STEM)2 Program for supporting students and increasing access to the STEM fields for under-represented students;
• The college’s strong, comprehensive Career Technical Education programs emphasizing workforce development and implementation of a baccalaureate program; and
• The college’s clear, innovative 2017 Technology Plan.

The compliance recommendation regarding student learning outcome (SLO) assessments indicates an issue where the college does not meet the standard, which must be promptly addressed.

Overall, the Site Visit Team’s exit report was very positive and they noted it had been “an absolute pleasure to be here with you at Cypress College.”

To close the event, Dr. Schilling told the campus community, “I am so proud. You really did rock the house.”

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