Degree Plan Debacle: Curiouser and Curiouser



We are almost at the midway point in the semester and still haven’t gotten down to the truth behind District’s decision to ditch Associate of Arts degree plans for each independently accredited college.

First there was the mysterious email sent to all college employees on Friday, September 19 from Associate VC Jo-Carol Fabianke which stated:

The Presidents, Vice Chancellors and Vice Presidents made this decision in consultation with our accreditor (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges) as it was determined that not enough coursework is provided to constitute a true “major field of study” to these transfer degrees.

Then several news articles were published providing a variety of explanations from administrators and even more questions from faculty and students:

Accreditation, number of hours needed for a degree, keeping track of program learning outcomes…the list of excuses grows.

Today’s Ranger article, Chancellor blames Texas Legislature for degree change, has Chancellor Bruce Leslie backpedaling from Fabianke’s September 19 email assertion that SACSCOC is to blame for the change:

Leslie sent a letter seeking clarification last week to a representative at the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

He said he does not expect to hear back from the agency until next week because a lot of the administrators are in a conference.

They just can’t keep their stories straight! Did they make this decision in consultation with our accrediting agency or not?

Meanwhile, SAC AAUP member and SAC psychology Professor Thomas Billimek contacted the President of SACSCOC, Belle Wheelan, for a direct answer on what is required for us to continue offering degrees. Billimek said:

She [Belle Wheelen] verified that all degrees require program learning outcomes assessment. This includes the “generic” AA and AS degrees.

I also asked her about the number of hours in the discipline necessary for the awarding of an associate degree. She said that SACSCOC does not specify the number of hours in the discipline necessary for the associate degree.

So we have our direct answer from our accrediting agency. ALL degrees, even the generic degrees, must have program learning outcomes. And there is no set number of hours to award a degree in a specific discipline.

SAC Faculty Senate hosted the San Antonio College  accreditation team leader Dr. Johnnie Rosenauer at last Wednesday’s Senate meeting. He assured the Senate that there is nothing to worry about:

The Re-Affirmation Team for San Antonio College is diligently moving forward with our work, is on schedule, and I see no reason we will not have a successful Re-Affirmation Report.  Certainly there may be some adjustments we need to make in certain responses since there are so many answers that are required, but there are no huge gaps that causes me to worry about a successful outcome.

SAC Faculty Senate has asked the College Curriculum Committee to investigate whether College procedure was followed in the Catalog change which replaced degree concentrations with advising guides. Just as with the EDUC 1300 issue, how can District make curricular decisions for each independently accredited college?

Curiouser and curiouser.

What do you think?

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