Talk about timing.
A volunteer task force of Nassau Community College faculty and administrators is slated to have its first meeting Thursday — two days after the school was put on probation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The commission’s move, sadly, was no surprise.
After all, a visiting commission team had found NCC wanting in seven of 14 standards.
And while NCC, for now, maintains its accreditation, the designation nonetheless is serious. And embarassing.
Middle States, an independent accrediting agency for 528 schools in other states and territories has issued warnings to 10 colleges.
But only two are on probation: NCC and Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, a four-year college near Philadelphia, which the agency in 2015 cited as having weaknesses in finances and leadership.
According to news reports, Cheney’s enrollment had dropped some 30 percent before the commission issued its report.
In Nassau, the opposite is true.
As of Wednesday, according to college officials, NCC’s enrollment was up, which meant a boost of 500 incoming students come fall.
“We don’t have a problem attracting students,” Thomas P. Dolan, NCC’s interim president, said in an interview Wednesday. “We have a problem keeping them.”
Will Middle State’s action excerbate NCC’s retention issue? Enrollment statistics, come fall, will tell that tale.
But, as Dolan stressed, NCC is accredited, which means that federal aid for students is not at risk.
And, as Richard Pokrass, a spokesman for Middle States noted, the college has two years to jump off the probation list — and could do so even sooner, depending on how quickly and how well NCC resolves the seven failed standards.
It is not an impossible task.
As long as the college sets aside years of time-wasting bickering and gamesmanship between administrators and faculty.
The first deadline is coming up fast.
Middle States is requiring that NCC produce a monitoring report by Nov. 1.
Which is where NCC’s task force is supposed to come in.
Dolan said that he asked for volunteers, and that he also invited representatives from various college communities. Not all have opted in, however.
And even at this late date, some believe NCC should seek an outside consultant to help put the college back on track.
But the responsibility, and the work, ultimately rests with NCC’s administrators and faculty.
As for outside consultants, isn’t Middle States enough?
They’ve offered, in detail, what the college needs to do. And another outsider, Farmingdale State College President W. Hubert Keen, is slated to bring his experience and expertise when he takes the helm at NCC on Aug. 1.
The work needs to begin before he gets there, however.
Perhaps that’s Thursday. With a task force that will need all the support from NCC it can muster.
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