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Accreditation Team Lauds Allan Hancock College Public Safety Training Complex, Bond Management

An accreditation evaluation team praised Allan Hancock College and its leadership on Thursday. The 13-member team of peer evaluators commended the college for several items including its committed Board of Trustees, the management and implementation of Bond Measure I funding, and its state-of- the-art Public Safety Training Complex and public safety programs.

The praise, based on the team’s initial findings, came at the end of the evaluation team’s visit to the college. The visit was made on behalf of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College (ACCJC), Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Allan Hancock College has been fully accredited and in good standing since 1952.

“Given that in recent years the accreditation process has become even more stringent, we are pleased with our evaluation team’s visit. We are grateful for their time, effort and insight,” said Hancock Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers, Ph.D. “Our trustees, faculty and staff are committed on a daily basis to changing the odds for our students, and the visiting team saw that clearly.”

Every six years, California community colleges undergo a self-study and accreditation reaffirmation process. The college submitted a 473-page document with hundreds of pieces of evidence to the ACCJC in late July to demonstrate how the college satisfies specific standards mandated by the commission.

As part of the process, the accreditation team visited Allan Hancock College for four days this week. Prior to leaving, the team presented an exit report to the college on its preliminary findings. The team commended the college for its positive and uplifting culture and atmosphere.

“The team was truly amazed at our faculty and staff’s commitment to working together to support student success. They could see at all levels we share the same values and that we support our mission on a daily basis,” said Walthers.

The team commended the college’s noteworthy institutional programs, specifically the Conservatory program at PCPA, public safety programs operated at the Public Safety Training Complex in Lompoc, as well as programs offered at the Lompoc Federal Penitentiary.

Evaluators further praised the college for its implementation and management of new facilities and technology provided through Measure I, the $180 million bond passed by community voters in 2006. They again singled out the Public Safety Training Complex that they toured during their visit.

Team Chair Deborah DiThomas, the superintendent/president of Barstow Community College, and the team issued commendations to the Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees for their active involvement and commitment to ensuring the success of students and the college. They praised the trustees, who all met with evaluators this week, for understanding their roles as policy makers rather than managers.

Board President Greg Pensa said he and the other trustees, Tim Bennett, Bernard Jones, Larry ​Lahr and Hilda Zacarías, have always taken their duties as elected officials seriously.

“We are grateful for the evaluation team’s acknowledgement of our commitment to the college and our students,” said Pensa. “Our trustees work together well. We are all dedicated to  serving the district and providing the highest quality educational opportunities to our community.”

Evaluators also applauded the college’s efforts in student services by commending outreach events that involve area high schools like Hancock Hello, a new student orientation, and Bridges to Success, which improved relationships between high school and college counselors.

This week, evaluators toured the Santa Maria campus and Lompoc Valley Center. They also walked through the Federal Correctional Complex in Lompoc where the college operates educations programs. Evaluators interviewed dozens of Hancock faculty and staff to gather more information and discuss how the college addresses standards laid out by the ACCJC.

Colleges are evaluated on resource and finance management, leadership and governance, student learning programs and support services, academic quality and institutional effectiveness.

Walthers said the accreditation process is an important, ongoing process that allows colleges to look inward at every aspect of themselves.

The evaluation team offered the college a few preliminary recommendations to increase effectiveness such as linking student learning outcomes to improvement and assessing the needs for evening hours in student services. The team also suggested the college ensure it meets standards that focused on curriculum approval, distance education and the evaluation process.

“The evaluators looked deeply into Allan Hancock College and it was clear to them what we all know to be true: We are an exceptional college doing exceptional work on behalf of our students. I commend every faculty, administrator and staff member, every student and every member of this community for their work,” said Walthers. “I also want to thank the evaluation team for their time, effort and invaluable insight. The college will be stronger in the long run because of it.”

The evaluation team will spend the next few weeks writing and finalizing its report before presenting it to the commission for approval. The commission meeting to determine the status of Allan Hancock College’s accreditation is scheduled for January 2017.

 
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