City College earns fresh 7-year accreditation

After having its accreditation revoked more than three years ago and then later restored in 2015, City College of San Francisco has had its accreditation reaffirmed for the next seven years, school officials announced Friday.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges voted this week in closed session meetings in Sacramento to renew the community college’s accreditation after years of uncertainty stemming from the initial accreditation revocation.

Joined by State Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblymen Phil Ting and David Chiu, City College’s interim Chancellor Susan Lamb and the school’s Board of Trustees celebrated the announcement this evening during a news conference at the school’s Diego Rivera Theater.

Lamb, who said she didn’t know the decision was coming down today, described the accreditation as a major win for the school.

Board of Trustee President Rafael Mandelman said:

“When a bully in power is trying to do unreasonable and harmful things, the proper response is not accommodation and not acquiesce, the proper response is resistance. And if you fight back and you hold tight onto it and you keep fighting long enough, you will beat that bully,”

Leno, who helped by securing stabilization funding for the school, said:

“For a city of immigrants, this is a top priority. … This commission overstepped its authority.”

Ting said:

“This is such a fabulous moment for this institution, which really is a pathway for a better life. … To me it was amazing that we had a commission that didn’t really seem to understand that. It was so worried and fixated more on punishing institutions.”

In June 2013, the ACCJC first voted to revoke the college’s accreditation, citing problems with financial accountability and institutional governance. In response, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors moved to appoint a special trustee to oversee the college and strip the college’s elected board of power.

The decision was met with protests from city officials and prompted City Attorney Dennis Herrera to file a lawsuit, alleging the commission had violated the college’s due process rights.

The commission voted in August of 2015 to uphold its previous decision, but by then had agreed to grant the college the newly created “restoration” status, meaning it had two years to meet all accreditation standards.

The school has retained its accreditation during the process, and the board was restored to full power in July of 2015.

Herrera said Friday in a statement:

“City College is part of the fabric of San Francisco. It provides hope, community and opportunity to anyone who needs it. … I’m happy we were able to do our part to help keep the school open, and I’m thrilled this vital institution will now be able to serve its students and our city for generations to come.”

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement:

“Today’s a triumphant day for City College of San Francisco. The cloud of accreditation and uncertainty has been lifted. CCSF’s academic credentials have never been in doubt and with this news the doors of this bedrock institution will remain open for thousands of San Franciscans looking to pursue a higher education, job training and lifetime learning,”

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier said in a statement:

“It’s been a long and hard-fought battle by a large coalition of students, educators and elected officials who recognize how essential City College is to a healthy San Francisco. The college has a sterling record of preparing students for good and well-paying jobs that it can now continue without the fear of having its doors slammed shut. This is a victory for the entire city,”

With the accreditation secured, City College says it can now focus on its efforts to educate students in programs such as stem-cell research, medical imaging and culinary arts, as well as efforts to enroll more students, school officials said in a statement.

The ACCJC was not immediately available for comment.