Accreditation passes and exceeds standards

Elizabeth Fernandez, Reporter

Bakersfield College passed its most recent accreditation evaluation with “flying colors,” said Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, executive vice president of BC’s academic affairs.
A community college’s accreditation is evaluated by a peer-based visiting group from around the state of California and granted by the federal government; accreditation determines whether community college courses are of equal and standardized academic value – in other words, if a college is not accredited, other schools, such as the university a student plans to transfer to, will not accept units unless they are coming from classes with matching content.
“Our students are not required to take other courses, because we’ve met the standards,” said Gomez-Heitzeberg.
To further the explanation of what accreditation is, the vice president added, “Accreditation is the process used to verify agreed upon standards … and that our college is providing programs and services dedicated to improving and meeting student needs.”
She said that basically, it is meeting our school’s mission statement, which students can find on the front of the BC catalog.
Gomez-Heitzeberg also added that BC is part of the AACJC accreditation region and encouraged the use of its website to find out more.
Another factor students may not take into consideration when regarding the issue of accreditation is that it affects financial aid. The federal government does not grant financial aid to schools that do not meet standards, which, for some, may add on to the importance of BC keeping a “clear-report,” free from sanctions – things that the school needs to improve.
“This time we did, we did, how should I put it? We were magnificent!” proclaimed the vice president. She said that BC affirmed its report with flying colors and therefore would not need a follow-up until fall of 2015.
The follow-up that semester will mark three years – halfway into the most recent six-year accreditation.
In regard to BC’s assessment and accommodations she said, “We definitely improved. We did extraordinary, we exceeded standards.”
“It is not unusual for a school to receive recommendations,” she said, explaining that BC received eight accreditation recommendations in the 2012 accreditation study.
Something in particular that the vice president mentioned was that the accreditation committee was impressed with BC President Sonya Christian for her engagement in the community, involvement with agencies and outreach programs, such as maintaining a “President’s Blog,” which she highly recommends and encourages students to look up.
As far as the visiting group goes, both Christian and Gomez-Heitzeberg have been invited to be a part of accreditation committees for other southern California community colleges. Members are chosen based on faculty expertise, and they can view it as a courtesy or an obligation.
Gomez-Heitzeberg added, “We try to be as understanding as possible.”