Community College Explores Avenues To A Stable Future

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In an interview with The Island Sun newspaper President of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) Dr. Janet Smith disclosed that the College is currently planning for the 2020 re-accreditation of the institution, and is also exploring ways to make the college financially more stable.

In 2015 after nine years of diligent preparation the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College was accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Notwithstanding, that only two years has passed, the faculty has already commenced plans to keep the accreditation status when the five year anniversary rolls around in 2020.

In mentioning the plans, President Smith said that the next assessment will mainly focus on evaluating whether the College adhered to the recommendation that it agreed to. “As would be true for all institutions, as part of the accrediting agency’s response following evaluation for initial accreditation or subsequent re-accreditation, the Visiting Evaluation Committee prepared a list of recommendations,” Dr. Smith explained.

The College President explained that the recommendations to be applied relate to suggestions for improvement, based on Middle States’ experience.  Dr. Smith said that in an effort to fulfill the mandate the recommended items have all been assigned to the responsibility of appropriate officers who are expected to prepare goals for specific employee(s) in order to ensure that the areas identified are strengthened.  It was further mentioned that the internal Accreditation Liaison is responsible for monitoring progress concerning these.

It was also noted that the 14 standards for accreditation that the College previously met have been restructured.  “The Liaison has attended the workshops concerning these and have been communicating these changes internally – particularly those areas that require special attention,” Dr. Smith said in relation to the recommendations.

The road to re-accreditation officially commenced this summer when a formal audit of the College’ status of the elements within the accreditation standards begun.  “Audits of two of seven standards have been completed and reviewed by the President’s Cabinet….again, in an effort to take the actions necessary to strengthen areas that are considered to be at less than the desired level of implementation or institutionalization,” the President explained.

In furthering the re-accreditation process the College intends to prepare a detailed Accreditation Plan and Schedule, as well as create and instruct an Accreditation Steering Committee in the coming weeks.

Financial Stability

Over the last few years various reports have been aired highlighting that the College has been having financial issues. However, in her interview with this newspaper Dr. Smith expressed optimism that the problem will be sorted soon.

The HLSCC President mentioned that discussion has commenced on ways and means to eliminate the financial challenges experienced by the College and that funding for the College was approved by the House of Assembly on the recommendation of the Ministry of Education.

“Discussions related to funding are continually a topic of discussion within the College as well as by the Board. We continue to try to identify and look for opportunities to carry out the mission of the College and to use the financial as well as human resources available to us in as efficient and responsible a manner as possible,” Dr. Smith disclosed.

One of the funding increase initiative is the recently approved Naming Opportunities Policy. This policy was given the green light by the Board of HLSCC to encourage organizations and individuals to sponsor the upgrade and maintenance of classrooms and other facilities.”

“A Cost Containment Task Force is expected to soon recommend efficiencies that might be implemented in various areas.  While we aim to keep the cost of tuition at the College affordable and has held this steady for almost fifteen years, if the College is to continue to employ qualified faculty and other employees, as well as maintain higher standards of performance, this may be an area where an increase may be needed,” Dr. Smith added.

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