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NMC Mobilizes Efforts to Obtain Accreditation (February 8, 2008)

Immediately after the Show Cause order was issued by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, the Northern Marianas College management team has been hard at work meeting with various college and community leaders to raise awareness about NMC’s accreditation efforts and to formulate a plan to secure full accreditation.

Dr. Fernandez also presided over a February 8, 2008 general assembly meeting that was attended by students, faculty, and staff. In her address, Dr. Fernandez stated, “NMC has already made significant strides to exceed the standards set by the accreditation commission. We will continue to build on that effort to ensure that we achieve accreditation reaffirmation in the next review.”

On the same day, the President was joined by Board of Regents Acting Chairperson Joey San Nicolas and Regent Charles Cepeda to field questions from local media representatives at a press conference. The purpose of the press conference was to communicate the reasons for the Show Cause order and the implications for the College and its students.

Governor Benigno Fitial also voiced his support later in the day in a private meeting with Dr. Fernandez. During the meeting, Governor Fitial emphasized his administration’s commitment to assisting the College obtain full accreditation.
In separate meetings, House Speaker Arnold Palacios and Senate President Pete Reyes also assured Dr. Fernandez of their support.

On Wednesday, February 13, 2008, Dr. Fernandez led a team of students, parents, staff, and faculty to address the House Committee on Health, Education, and Welfare, chaired by Representative Ralph Torres. During the meeting, the NMC management team, joined by members of the Board of Regents, delivered a presentation that highlighted the College’s accreditation status, priorities and budgetary needs. The discussion also covered specific details about the accrediting commission’s concerns and NMC’s progress in resolving them.

Faculty members have also been taking an active role in addressing accreditation concerns. Many attend weekly workshops facilitated by NMC’s School of Education on issues such as developing student learning outcomes, rubrics, and other topics focused on improving teaching and learning. Faculty members also actively participate in the Program Review and Outcomes Assessment Committee (PROAC).

Dr. Debra T. Cabrera, Acting Dean of Academic Programs and Services, now chairs the Academic Council, where accreditation concerns and issues from the faculty’s perspective are regularly discussed. She also led a faculty assembly on Friday, February 15, 2008, to address faculty’s role and responsibility in assisting with the collection and analysis of student achievement data for use in program review.

While accreditation-related activities on campus have stepped up to meet deadlines set by ACCJC, the college has received several statements and letters of support that have poured in from many sources, including parents, the Office of the Resident Representative to Washington DC, Taotao Tano CNMI, Pacific Post-Secondary Education Council (PPEC), and others.

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