California's biggest college fights to stay open

August 28, 2013
Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco City College’s fight to keep its accreditation got much-needed support from San Francisco Attorney Dennis Herrera. Last week, Herrera filed a suit in Superior Court against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, to stop the agency from revoking the accreditation of the city’s community college on July 31, 2014.

The commission has cited problems with the City College’s governance and fiscal planning. The sanction could shut down California’s largest school, because it would lose access to local, state and federal funding.

The City College of San Francisco has about 85,000 students. In its main campus alone, 4,000 of the 35,000 students are Filipino, the largest population of Filipino students in any school outside the Philippines.

“There’s no question in anyone’s mind that City College is really a piece of the fabric of the City and County of San Francisco. Everywhere I go, everyone I’ve spoken to, have either taken a class, or have a relative taking a class here,” said Dr. Robert Agrella, Special Trustee of the school.

In a recent press conference at the New America media, Agrella assured people that the City College of San Francisco continues to operate as it tries to meet the requirements for accreditation.

“We are alive. We are well. We are fully functioning. We are fully accredited, as we go through all these processes leading to the maintenance of our accreditation. We remain an accredited institution,” Agrella stressed.

In fact, City College officials said that the quality of education there has not been sacrificed, despite the crisis it’s going through.

“Our number of sections for the classes that we are offering this year, is actually up, in our credit area in particular. We have not made a big reduction. We are looking to see that the classes meet the demands of our students,” said Joanne Low, Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs.
Low added that the school is even hiring more instructors to accommodate more classes.

City College officials hope that the school will show enough progress that the commission could extend its accreditation deadline. But while it’s still open and trying to recover, students are worried about its future. The community college has so far suffered a 10 percent decline in its enrollment for the new semester.

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