City College of San Francisco Community Talks To Accreditors

Evaluators visiting the college held a one-hour forum Tuesday to hear from students, faculty and the public.

A panel of professionals
Dr. Erika Endrijonas speaks at an open forum for members of the City College of San Francisco community to speak about the condition of the college. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

A team of evaluators who will help determine whether City College of San Francisco will keep its accreditation held an open forum Tuesday afternoon to hear comments from the college community.

Students, faculty, staff and members of the public were given an hour to speak directly to the team of peer evaluators from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, best known by the initialism ACCJC. Members of the college administration and Board of Trustees were barred from attending to allow for free comment.

About three dozen attendees gathered in the Multi-Use Building at the college's campus in Ingleside and twelve spoke up. Common themes expressed were a desire for guidance for structural stability from the accreditation process and concern about the functionality of the Board of Trustees, which recently allowed infighting to be put on display in the press.

“We are here to listen to what you all have to say,” said Dr. Erika Endrijonas, a member of the peer review team. “We are not here to answer questions though. This is an opportunity for you all to give us feedback, to give us your thoughts on City College of San Francisco.”

The college’s accreditation has been under review since January 2023 after the committee placed the college on “enhanced monitoring” due to its troubled finances for a third year in October 2022.

The ACCJC started its visit on Monday and will remain until Wednesday. When they depart, they will provide an exit report.

“Administration, faculty, staff, board — there are tensions,” said Craig Kleinman, a member of the college's English department and curriculum committee chair. “So many beautiful things happen here that we want to keep building on but we want to transcend the dissonance somehow.”

Several commenters praised the college and Chancellor David Martin, pointing to the improvements since 2013 when the college was placed on "show cause" status and a special trustee with extraordinary powers was installed to guide the college.

“Over the years, I’ve witnessed an array of problems at [City College], some solved, others merely survived but the breadth and depth of our current crises concern me like never before,” said Malcolm Hillan, a member of the environmental horticultural and floristry department. “I feel like our horticulture program, the welfare of my students and the college itself are all in jeopardy. […] Our current chancellor has pulled us out of the swamp we were mired in but, unfortunately, the board that hired him is no more and he's on his way out.” 

Most faculty who made comments said there was significant concern about the long-term plan for the college’s future, especially in connection to its financial stability given the layoffs of teachers and service workers.

Kimberly Keenan, a member of the social sciences department, said the current state of affairs hurts morale and asked that the institution get assistance.

“Any guidance that you can give to us, that will help us, including the fact that all of our employees deserve to be respected and paid adequately for what we do in trying to really impact and improve our community would be really something that this college could use,” Keenan said. “There are really bright spots at this college but I'm afraid that the PR and the things that are remembered in our community sometimes don't focus on those.”

The ACCJC will issue its determination about the college’s accreditation in January or February of 2024.

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