College may have to shut down in 6 months
The Saipan Tribune
By Agnes Donato
Northern Marianas College president Carmen Fernandez and members of the NMC Board of Regents gather inside the BOR conference room during yesterday's committee meeting. (Jacqueline Hernandez) Northern Marianas College is close to losing its accreditation and may have to shut down in six months, it was disclosed yesterday.
Photo: Northern Marianas College president Carmen Fernandez and members of the NMC Board of Regents gather inside the BOR conference room during yesterday's committee meeting.
The college has been ordered to show cause why its accreditation should not be withdrawn, according to the website of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
The commission's Western Association of Schools and Colleges, or WASC, took the action against NMC because the college still has not addressed concerns previously raised by the commission.
NMC has been on probation since February 2007.
College officials reportedly received the show-cause order on Wednesday. NMC college president Carmen Fernandez declined to make any comments yesterday. She said that few people at the college have been informed about the news.
The NMC Board of Regents was scheduled to meet Wednesday evening to discuss WASC's order. A meeting with NMC personnel is also expected to occur today.
A source said that NMC is given six months to comply with the commission's order. If the college fails to do this, WASC may terminate its accreditation.
Accreditation is important because it proves to the public that a college meets standards of quality, and allows students to access financial aid programs. In addition, many institutions look at accreditation when deciding whether to allow transfer of credits.
The source said that, in NMC's case, loss of accreditation could lead to closure of the college. NMC has reportedly been ordered to make preparations for closure during the six-month show cause period.
WASC officials are expected to visit the college in the next months.
NMC had been on “warning” status several times before. Last year, WASC elevated the sanction and placed the college on probation. Then acting college president Danny Wyatt said the probation sanction was handed down because of an accumulation of organizational problems dating back from 1990.
At the time, WASC said that the college has not made enough progress with regard to conducting regular program reviews. The commission also raised concern about the quick turnover of presidents and deans, which has been occurring since 2000.
The commission said the college should implement its employee evaluation program, and ensure a qualified board of regents that undergoes sufficient and ongoing training about their roles and responsibilities, especially with regard to the accreditation requirements.