Accreditors Hear Student Concerns

Students expressed issues related to online classes, financial aid, advising, and computer resources at a student forum hosted by the accreditation evaluators October 23.

The accreditors set up the forum in order to include student feedback in their recommendations and commendations to UCC.

Accreditation is a process to help ensure the quality of U.S education. Schools must be accredited in order to grant students financial aid.

“There’s only one reason why UCC exists, and it’s to help students succeed,” said Rich Cummins, one of the accreditation site evaluators, at the beginning of the student forum.

The accreditors supplied pizza and spoke with students in the student lounge. The evaluators began by asking students about instructors. Students said that instructors generally help students and work around schedules.

 “Even though it’s a small school, we have a high caliber of instructors,” said Matt Cugley, a business student.

Several students agreed that UCC faculty and staff are friendly to all types of students. “Corrie Sommerfeld is so helpful. She answers my questions about scholarships and anything,” said Hollie Robinson, a TOP student.

The accreditation team then asked about the new student orientation. “It was really easy to schedule. They showed us how to work the web system and where tutoring was,” said Haley Stammen, a journalism student.

However, some students had conflicts with different departments on campus. “If you visit different counselors you might get conflicting information and it can be confusing,” said Katelin Potter, a UCC student.

Some students had concerns about communicating with financial aid. “There needs to be a communication system between financial aid and students so we know what they need,” said Emily Pake, a UCC student.

Accreditors then held an exit report forum in Whipple Centerstage on Oct. 24 to give faculty and staff their recommendations and commendations. Students also attended.

Evaluators felt that a succession plan is needed to address the high turnover rate in administration. Accreditors also felt that evaluation of faculty and staff can be done in a timelier manner.

The evaluators complimented UCC’s drive for success despite adverse conditions. They also felt that the buildings and grounds are well kept. President Joe Olson was complimented on his  open leadership role.

Evaluators noted that UCC is highly responsive to student needs on campus. The library was specifically upheld for its access to information through databases and the availability of the computer lab and laptops.

The full report will be sent to President Olson in approximately a week, after which he will meet with the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities in Seattle to outline strategies to work on the recommendations.

Overall, faculty and staff were pleased with the site visit. “It went really well. The number of meetings was sufficient and the evaluators asked the right questions,” said Nancy Nowak, a member of UCC’s accreditation team.

“Accreditation’s a respectful way to solve some problems on campus,” said Olson. “It just touches me to go out into the community and proudly represent UCC.”

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.