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NMC’s Accreditation Update: Momentum Toward Accreditation Reaffirmation Continues (February 27, 2008)

The Northern Marianas College’s efforts toward accreditation reaffirmation gained further momentum last week with the introduction of a house bill that earmarks $3 million for building improvements and a master plan for NMC’s new campus.

If enacted into law, House Bill 16-28 will reappropriate $3 million from funds that had earlier been committed to the closure of the Puerto Rico Dump to pay for building improvements and repair at NMC’s As Terlaje campus and the purchase of collateral equipment. The funds will also be used for the development of a master plan and architecture and design of a new NMC campus. The bill was introduced by Representative David Apatang.

“One of the chief concerns of the accrediting commission was the poor conditions of some of NMC’s physical structures,” said NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez. “The passage of House! Bill 16-28 will go a long way in addressing these concerns and in helping secure an upgrade in our accreditation status.”

The news from the legislature complemented another positive report from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs (OIA): in a private meeting with Dr. Fernandez, OIA Field Representative Jeff Schorr stated that NMC’s request for a $400,000 grant has been approved. Part of the Operations and Maintenance Improvement Project, the grant will be used to pay for an upgrade to NMC’s information systems and training for IT staff and students.

“With this grant, we can now improve NMC’s information technology infrastructure, which is critical to the advancement of our students and, ultimately, the CNMI’s local workforce,” Fernandez added.

As the funding from the legislature and the OIA are in progress, Dr. Fernandez has been meeting with various stakeholders to raise public awareness about NMC’s accreditation status as well as recruit assistance from community leaders.

On Thursday, Dr. Fernandez presided over two accreditation forums sponsored by the Associated Students of NMC (ASNMC). The forums, which gave attendees an opportunity to raise questions about the show cause accreditation statues, were attended by students, parents, faculty, staff, media representatives, and other community members. Earlier in the day, Dr. Fernandez had also met with Representatives Ralph Torres to discuss the College’s funding needs.

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