Accrediting commission checks in with Green River College following unrest, changes on campus

Accrediting commission checks in with Green River College following unrest, changes on campus

An evaluator from the commission who oversees accreditation for Green River College visited the campus last month to check in on the school following “recent changes in leadership and the stresses and strains that the institution has been under for the past few years,” according to a letter from the Northwest Commission on College and Universities (NWCCU).

An evaluator from the commission who oversees accreditation for Green River College visited the campus last month to check in on the school following “recent changes in leadership and the stresses and strains that the institution has been under for the past few years,” according to a letter from the Northwest Commission on College and Universities (NWCCU).

Over the past couple of years, faculty and students packed Board of Trustees meetings and staged multiple rallies and walkouts over concerns with program cuts and college leadership. In May, faculty went on a three-day strike calling for then-president Eileen Ely’s resignation. Ely stepped down from her post in June.

In August, the commission requested the college submit a special report “to address the steps that the institution has taken to restore trust, stability and sustainability,” according to the letter from the commission.

The NWCCU is an independent, nonprofit membership organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the regional authority on educational quality and institutional effectiveness of higher education institutions, overseeing accreditation of 162 colleges and universities in the Northwest region.

The NWCCU reaffirmed Green River’s accreditation in 2013. Regional accreditation of post-secondary institutions is a voluntary, non-governmental, self-regulatory process of quality assurance and institutional improvement.

In early October, Green River submitted a report to the commission addressing three areas – disclosure, governance and leadership and management.

Cam Preus, president of Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Ore., who was assigned the evaluator for the report, visited Green River on Oct. 20.

While on campus, Preus met with Interim President Scott Morgan, Shirley Bean, vice president for business administration, and Rebecca Williamson, interim vice president of instruction, as well as the college’s executive team and representatives of the exempt, instructional, administrator, classified and student councils.

“What the evaluators do is they provide you with a list of people or constituent groups they want to meet with during their day,” Williamson told Green River’s Board of Trustees at its Oct. 20 meeting. “This is not something that is set by the college. It is set by the evaluator after reviewing the report.”

The meetings were confidential.

“They are just with the stakeholders and Dr. Preus,” Williamson said. “None of her notes identify who she’s talked with.”

Williamson discussed the visit with Preus while driving her to the airport.

“The tone of our conversation was very positive,” Williamson said. “She seems very pleased with the steps the college has taken and was especially pleased with the conversation she had with students.”

Preus will write a report based on her visit, which she will present to the NWCCU at its meeting in January.

“My crystal ball read on this is that they will be very pleased with the progress that has been made, and it will be back to business as usual,” Williamson said.


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