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Evaluation coming soon for college

October 27, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

An eight-member evaluation team that will recommend whether Hagerstown Community College will remain an accredited institution is scheduled to arrive in Hagerstown on Sunday.

The college has been preparing for two years for the visit of the accrediting agency, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, said Barbara Macht, HCC's director of planning, governance and research. She also is the college's coordinator for the visit.

About 150 of the college's 300 full-time employees participated in some way in activities connected to the visit, including filling out surveys, serving on 18 study groups and writing reports, College President Guy Altieri said.

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A 220-page book with information about the college, the study groups and reports was sent in advance to the team members and association, Altieri said.

The book is a way for the college to indicate in advance, in writing, why it thinks it meets the association's standards, Altieri said.

Altieri said people ask him why accreditation is important. He said his answer is that it is a way for the college to get a seal of approval that its instructors have the proper credentials and that the finances are in good order, he said.

Being accredited also makes it possible for students to have credits transferred to other accredited institutions, he said.

Eleven people representing the association are scheduled to come to HCC from Sunday through Wednesday to ask questions and gather information, Macht said.

The eight people on the team work at other colleges outside of Maryland, she said. There also will be an observer and two representatives of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, she said. The representatives will help the team members with any questions about state law, she said.

A welcoming reception for association representatives will be held Sunday, Macht said.

On Monday, association representatives are to meet with committees and individual college employees, she said.

On Tuesday, the representatives are to have breakfast with community members and lunch with the college board of trustees, she said.

On Wednesday, the representatives will announce their findings and recommendation on whether the college will be accredited, Altieri said. They also will list the strengths and weaknesses they observed, he said.

The official decision won't come until about March, Altieri said.

The college has maintained accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools since its first review in 1968. In 1993, it was accredited for a 10-year period, Macht said.

HCC's accreditation was extended for one year because of the transition as former president Norman Shea left office and Altieri took the job, Macht said.

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