CAC on target for reaccreditation

By Tom Di Camillo,
Director of Media & Community Events

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. - As Central Arizona College prepares for its reaccreditation process, the Higher Learning Commission acknowledged in its status report of CAC's Action Projects that the institution's recent accomplishments were impressive and the college was making great strides in meeting its originally stated goals.

The final report was issued in October of 2011 and is a strong indicator that Central Arizona College is moving in a positive direction as it prepares to be evaluated for reaccreditation.

"Accreditation is the lifeblood of any institution of higher education," Dr. Doris Helmich, the interim president at Central Arizona College, stated. "To say that it is important for CAC to address its accreditation challenges is an understatement."

But she also dispelled any rumors that CAC's accreditation was in jeopardy.

"We need to be perfectly clear - CAC will not lose its accreditation," Helmich said. "It is important that we carry this message to our community, to our students, and even to the parents of our students. Yes, we have a great deal of work ahead of us, but the comments from the Higher Learning Commission in our Action Projects Report tell us we are absolutely headed in the right direction."

The national publication Community College Week also likes what Central Arizona College is doing. The trade newspaper honored Central Arizona College by presenting the institution with a plaque for being in the Top 100 of Associate Degree Producers in 2011 (Two-Year Certificates: All Disciplines).

Helmich presented the plaque to Pinal County Community College District Governing Board President Gladys Christensen on Nov. 15 at CAC's Superstition Mountain Campus in Apache Junction during the board's monthly meeting.

The review of the General Education Assessment revealed that CAC is making reasonable progress and has set clear milestones that are identifiable and are being monitored by the institution. Multiple staff, faculty, departments and committees are involved as well.

The HLC indicated that Central Arizona College's actions are aligning with the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), CAC's accreditation process that expects planning for continuous improvement and broad-based involvement from its constituents.

The HLC also indicated that CAC was making great strides in developing a culture focused on quality. Central Arizona College was lauded for choosing to work within existing procedures and structures to achieve processes that are based on continuous quality processes.

The report also commended CAC for developing its process in creating institutional measures of effectiveness and indicated that the progress was where it expected.

The Action Project Report reveals just a few of the many successes that are occurring throughout the Pinal County Community College District.

"Our mission is to engage our diverse communities in quality learning experiences for lifelong success by providing accessible educational, economic, cultural and personal growth opportunities," Helmich explained. "We are well on our way to accomplishing this mission as evidenced in so many programs and events: Wall of Success, student awards, graduation, students who return as employees - the list goes on."

The next step for CAC is to construct the best Systems Portfolio possible and get reaccredited.

"To do this we need everyone's help," Helmich said. "CAC has many committed and talented faculty and staff members who will play crucial roles in developing the Systems Portfolio."

The reaccreditation process is ramping up with the development of the Systems Portfolio now underway. The portfolio will be submitted in October of 2012 with feedback expected by March of 2013.

A strategy forum will commence in the fall of 2013 followed by a quality check-up visit that will take place by CAC's accrediting body in the spring of 2014. Reaffirmation of accreditation is expected at some point during the 2014-15 academic year.

But while CAC must travel through the higher education labyrinth toward reaccreditation, it is the people of the organization who make the difference.

"CAC is an organization of people," Helmich said. "When someone enters a Central Arizona College location, the buildings are just visual representations of our wonderful institution - but the buildings are not who we are. CAC is the people that comprise this outstanding community of educators who are unified in developing lifelong learners."

Central Arizona College - District Office 8470 N. Overfield Road, Coolidge, AZ 85128 Phone: 800-237-9814