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SCC Board Preps for Accreditation, Names 6 Presidential Finalists

On Monday, the board heard a presentation on accreditation in preparation for a November visit from the Higher Learning Commission.

The  (SCC) Board of Trustees discussed an upcoming site evaluation by representatives from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accrediting agency at Monday night's regular meeting. 

An upcoming November site visit and comprehensive evaluation by the HLC accrediting agency prompted a presentation to the board by Dr. Barbara Keim, vice president for technology, research and planning.

The commission is responsible for accrediting institutions of higher education throughout 19 Midwestern states, she said, and is one of six such organizations nationwide. Keim briefed the board on the criteria by which the commission would rate SCC.

“There are five criteria for accreditation,” Keim said, "Including mission and integrity, student learning and effective teaching and community engagement.”

Keim recently completed a two-year self-study report of the college, the basis for the commission’s evaluation, which will also examine the viability of SCC’s future planning.

“They’re not concerned just about now,” she said. “Do we have enough resources into the future to sustain the college and to sustain the quality of the college?”

Accreditation is voluntary but vital, Keim said, and ensures standards of academic quality among accredited institutions. Accreditation affects federal grants to the school and financial aid to students, and allows credits received at SCC to be transferred to other accredited schools throughout the country. SCC has been accredited by the commission for associate-level degrees since 1987.

While there was no discussion of the college’s ongoing presidential search at the meeting, a list of six finalists considered for the position was posted on the college website Saturday.

According to the website, the candidates include:

  • Drew A. Bennett, chancellor of Missouri State University at West Plains
  • Ronald Chesbrough, vice president for student affairs at Hastings College (NE)
  • Michael L. Dreith, president of Western Texas College
  • Dorothy J. Duran, vice president of academic affairs at Iowa Western Community College
  • Steven M. Gates, senior vice president for learning and provost at Northwest Arkansas Community College
  • Joseph Hartnett, department chair of business and computer science and professor of business administration at SCC.

Full candidate biographies are available on the college’s website.

On-campus interviews will be conducted between Aug. 22 and 26, but no date for a final decision has been set, SCC officials said. 

 on Patch, the candidates will be interviewed by students, faculty, administrative staff, the board of trustees and local community and business leaders.

 “We are excited to learn more about the finalists and host them on the beautiful college campus,”  President of the Board of Trustees William R. Pundmann said in a written statement.

Pundmann also serves as chair of the presidential search committee and said several finalists from earlier rounds of hiring withdrew due to difficulties resulting from uncertainty in the housing market. In response, the board announced Thursday it would form a presidential relocation committee, chaired by Ryan Robertson, board vice president. Robertson’s team will likely include a real estate attorney or agent and one or more members of the SCC human resources department, SCC officials said.

“The committee will conduct research on relocation practices, make recommendations to the board of trustees and assist the new president with his/her relocation efforts, as necessary,” Pundmann said. “This type of effort has become increasingly important to successful executive-level searches, and I am confident Ryan and his team will provide the board with good counsel."

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