College of Sequoias breathes sigh of relief over accreditation

The Fresno BeeFebruary 7, 2014 

— College of the Sequoias announced Friday that the cloud it has been living under for a year has been lifted.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges told the COS administration it removed the "show cause" status imposed a year ago, meaning the college is no longer under threat of forced closure.

"We're very excited" by the decision, COS President Stan Carrizosa said. "Everyone did a great job."

Friday, the commission's website listed COS's watch status as changed to "warning," the least stringent.

Carrizosa said he expects the warning status will be lifted in a year's time as the commission reviews the college's performance in several areas.

The crisis at the college erupted a year ago when the commission said the administration had failed to address concerns about how the college functions internally. If things didn't improve, the college must close its doors, the commission said.

One area of concern involved "campus climate," with the commission urging more "inclusive dialog" among campus constituencies.

"We addressed governance and decision-making -- the roles and responsibilities of the decision-making bodies," including the board of directors, the administration and faculty, Carrizosa said.

Committees were formed to write a manual of policies and procedures. Now, "everything is more clearly designed and more consistently followed," he said.

The college prepared a formal report for the commission, and a commission team paid a visit in November to review changes made since February.

The visit appears to have been a success.

In its email to the college Friday, the commission praised the college for making progress.

"During the visit the team ... found all constituency groups to be knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and committed to the success of the College and its students," the message said. "The team found the College to be welcoming and fully engaged in the accreditation process, and the team appreciated the work that the College has done ... "

Carrizosa said he will learn more about the commission's review on Monday and will update staff and faculty at a meeting Monday afternoon.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6104, lgriswold@fresnobee.com or @fb_LewGriswold on Twitter.

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