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Published: Friday, 3/30/2001

Panel cites positives, concerns at Owens

The independent evaluating team that visited Owens Community College at the end of October has recommended that the school be reaccredited for 10 years, but not without a caveat.

Officials from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Institutions of Higher Education will be back in 2003-2004 to check some items of concern, including communication throughout the college, assessment of student learning, and diversity among faculty and staff.

Additionally, the group recommended that Owens submit a report by June 30 documenting an internal audit of faculty and staff credentials. The college did not have official transcripts for some faculty, according to the report.

Owens' facilities and the quality of its occupational programs were among the areas praised in the team's report.

Dr. Paul Unger, Owens vice president of academic affairs and director of the self-study the college undertook in anticipation of the team's visit, declined to comment on the recommendations.

The report had been expected since January. It was delayed by internal matters unrelated to Owens, said Dr. Robert Appleson, associate director at North Central.

A decision on the college's bid for reaccreditation is expected late next month, he said.

Accreditation is a voluntary process colleges and universities undertake to show they conform to certain standards.

About 1,000 institutions are accredited by North Central. Owens last went through the process 10 years ago, though there was a follow-up visit in 1994 when it made the transition from a technical college to a community college.

Some of the recent concerns - communication problems between administrators and faculty, for example - were included in the earlier reports, according to the report.

“Morale among some faculty and staff is low because of unresolved college issues. The one issue the team heard over and over again is the lack of communication,” the report states.

The team recommended establishing a forum that permits formal faculty debate on academic policy issues.

The report suggests that Owens implement a proactive plan to increase the racial and cultural diversity of its staff and undertake a results-oriented assessment of student learning.



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