As the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) approaches the period of reaffirmation/reaccreditation President of the institution Judith Vanterpool disclosed that there are stumbling blocks along the way.
HLSCC received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education on 25 June, 2015. Since HLSCC is a newly accredited institution its accreditation spanned a five-year cycle. Therefore, the college is seeking reaffirmation of its accreditation in the 2019 – 2020 academic year.
During a press conference held at the College on 8 April to sign a MOU with the University of the Virgin Islands the College President spoke of the challenges experienced with the accreditation renewal.
With the 2020 reaffirmation process in mind the President of the College stated that there are challenges affecting the preparation: “As it relates to the challenges the institution is facing in its reaffirmation bid — one of them is resources, those resources include human and they also include financial so we are working on those”
She noted that fostering a unified approach to the reaffirmation process between all faculty and staff has been proving difficult as well: “Getting the faculty and staff to become committed to understand that accreditation/reaffirmation means significance in the world of higher education for the college and they should be driven every day — everyday reaccreditation/reaffirmation should be on their tables, in their minds they should be working it and thinking it.”
The fact that hurricanes Irma and Maria caused severe damages to the physical structure of the institution is also a contributor to the challenge of reaffirmation, but the President noted that the she is not daunted. “The other challenge would be being able to afford the amount of time that it needs to reach or complete the task…but we have chosen since hurricane Irma as our mantra we will rise and without any doubt I know we will rise to the occasion.”
Nonetheless, it was stated that there is a bright side to the difficulties as Vanterpool stated that through this trying preparation she is encouraged by a supportive College Board. “I have to say one thing I am very happy with, I don’t have a challenge in working with the Board…The entire Board has been taking up their role and that’s a good thing I don’t have to fight with them.”
The signing of the MOU with the University of the Virgin Islands is expected to bring support in this area of reaffirmation as well. In commenting on the support that is expected to come from this agreement the College President said: “This is one of the times when we are restructuring H.L Stoutt community college and focus is on keeping relationships alive. Therefore, I am charging Dr. Davies and his team to expect this president and her team to be calling on them for certain resources. I have already started conversations with him this morning about assistance with accreditation for example because we need some of his expertise.”
Vice President for Business Development and Innovation of the University of the Virgin Islands Dr. Haldane Davies said that the MOU will allow for a lot of assistance in the area of reaffirmation since UVI has been accredited for more than 30 years. “This is a classic example of how we can assist each other. UVI has been on this journey since 1972 where we were first affirmed by Middle States Commission on higher education. We just went through our last reaffirmation in 2017, it was in April 2017 when we had the last site visit so we have vast experience and exposure in that area. Many of our faculty staff at UVI engage in site visits”.
Dr. Davies said the University also has special accreditation in areas such as nursing, education, business etc and explained that there is great knowledge in this area that can be shared with HLSCC: “This is an opportunity for collaboration and something that we would be more than happy to assist with,” he added.