Home Faculty meeting Accreditation Investigators Prepare Report on NIC | North West

Accreditation Investigators Prepare Report on NIC | North West


SPOKANE — Assessors appointed by the agency that accredits North Idaho College met virtually with college officials and members of the campus community on Tuesday in the final phase of an investigation into NIC accreditation eligibility.

The North West Colleges and Universities Commission has appointed the panel of regional higher education representatives to investigate NIC following a second complaint by human rights groups in the region. regarding the conduct of the college board. The NIC has maintained regional accreditation through the NWCCU since 1950.

The board has faced significant criticism in recent months, most recently with a vote of no confidence from the college staff assembly and a letter of concern from the Coeur d’Alene tribe.

The NWCCU evaluation team consisted of Marc Johnson, former president of the University of Nevada, Reno; Deneece Huftalin, president of Salt Lake Community College; Glenn Ford, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration, Western States University; and Mary Hughes, member of the University of Alaska Board of Trustees.

While the team was originally supposed to visit the NIC in person, plans changed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Acting President Michael Sebaaly said the NWCCU panel spoke with him, every member of the NIC Board of Trustees, and the college’s academic/student affairs, finance, and human resources leadership teams, the NIC Foundation Board and the Chairs of the College Senate, Faculty Assembly, and Staff Assembly. The panel also participated in three forums: a staff forum with over 80 registered NIC participants, a faculty forum with over 50 registered, and a student forum with approximately 16 registered people.

Sebaaly declined to discuss the nature of the conversations, citing the ongoing investigation. A request for comment from NIC Student Associates was also declined.

The evaluators will now write an initial report detailing their findings. Although the typical turnaround time for such reports is seven days after the site visit, NWCCU President Sonny Ramaswamy said NIC was a special case.

“Because this panel was a special panel constituted to determine the facts and circumstances relating to the complaint and due to the complexity and volume of the information provided and the potential need for additional information, the panel’s report will take longer than the standard seven-day deadline for assessment panel reports,” he said via email.

NWCCU’s latest complaint against the college’s board of trustees – filed in November by the Kootenai County Human Relations Task Force and the Spokane, Bonner and County Human Rights Task Forces Boundary – accused the board of continued and additional violations of credential eligibility criteria. The groups’ first complaint was filed in March 2021.

Once the NWCCU-appointed assessors have prepared their initial report, they will submit it to the NIC for review. NIC officials will then have seven days to correct any factual information, Ramaswamy said.

The final report will then be presented to the NWCCU Board of Commissioners for review and action. Ramaswamy said this could take place either at an ad hoc committee meeting or at the next regular council meeting in June.

Sebaaly said the college will post comments from the NWCCU investigation online when appropriate.

The NIC board discussed the next steps in the NWCCU investigation at its meeting on Wednesday.

The reunion marked the first since former administrator Michael Barnes quit amid public concern he no longer met the residency requirements for his role, as Barnes appears to be a legal resident of South Dakota. Trustees on Wednesday offered to advertise the vacant Area 5 seat, seeking someone to serve at least until the November election.

Prior to the resignation, the board authorized the state attorney general’s office to investigate the residency eligibility of Barnes and trustee Ken Howard. Board attorney Marc Lyons said Wednesday there was no update.

Residency issues are among the many internal and external pressures admins have faced from the community in recent months due to concerns about admin conduct.

The Staff Assembly passed the vote of no confidence in the Board of Trustees in December, months after a vote of no confidence by the Faculty Assembly. Staff Assembly President Sarah Martin did not return a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the president of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Chief Allan, expressed his concerns in a Dec. 17 letter, calling on administrators to “right that ship” and confirm “that education is your top priority”.

“Having accreditation status even in question weakens the institution and casts doubt on every student’s educational future,” Allan wrote. “This situation is unacceptable and also avoidable.”