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Move to honor key contributor may violate accreditation

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 3, 2012) – The Northern Marianas College (NMC) is opposing a bill that seeks to rename the college in honor of former governor Carlos S. Camacho, saying the move with risk the institution's accreditation status with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

In a March 30 letter to House Speaker Eli Cabrera (R-Saipan), NMC president Sharon Y. Hart acknowledged that Camacho was highly instrumental in the creation of NMC and his contributions should be recognized in a manner that is appropriate and fitting.

However, Hart said that changing the college's name will present NMC with financial and marketing challenges and accreditation-related issues.

Hart disclosed that, based on the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Substantive Change Policy, any change in the official name of the institution constitutes a substantive change that requires the commission's approval.

"That process is a lengthy one that involves the college notifying ACCJC and preparing a substantive change proposal for submission to ACCJC's substantive change committee, that committee reviewing the application, and the ACCJC itself further deliberating on the proposed change," said Hart.

"We believe that initiating a substantive change approval request may distract NMC from its self-evaluation efforts. In fact, ACCJC policy states that institutions may not submit a substantive change proposal in the six-month period preceding the site visit," she added.

An accreditation team is scheduled to visit the campus in October and, with barely six months to the visit, Hart said the proposed change would run the risk of violating ACCJC policy.

Even if the college submits a substantive proposal change to ACCJC, Hart said a decision will not be rendered pending the re-affirmation of the college's accreditation status.

NMC is on continued probation status and is presently addressing the remaining deficiencies cited by the accreditation commission.

The president stressed that the college's opposition to House Bill 17-41 in no way diminishes Camacho's important role in establishing the college, nor its willingness to pay tribute to his accomplishments.

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