Columbia Gorge Community College received notice yesterday that the school was granted accreditation as an independent college. That means CGCC can design its own coursework, offer its own degrees and operate on its own without being tied to Portland Community College, as it has since its formation.
Below is the announcement, released late yesterday. At the bottom of the page, click the podcast button to hear an interview with Dan Spatz, Chief Institutional Advancement Officer for the college.
Columbia Gorge Community College has achieved independent accreditation.
The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities today approved the college’s request for independent accreditation, following a journey that began in 2006 upon direction of the college’s board.
“By achieving independent accreditation, our college is recognized as offering higher education programs on a level of excellence equal to all accredited colleges and universities in the Northwest,” said Dr. Frank Toda, CGCC President, in making the formal announcement today. “We now join the other 163 accredited colleges and universities in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. We are proud to be number 164.”
Columbia Gorge Community College has been accredited since its establishment in 1977 through a contract with Portland Community College. The college’s quest for independent accreditation enjoyed the full support and encouragement of PCC, which had been responsible for program review and other key functions. Graduates also received diplomas from PCC instead of CGCC.
CGCC achieved formal candidacy for independent accreditation in 2008, which in itself allowed the institution to compete for federal grants and award financial aid. Independent accreditation now confers additional benefits, Dr. Toda noted, including greater flexibility in developing new instructional programs and, most importantly, improved service to students.
“Being in charge of our own destiny gives us the agility to be more responsive and responsible,” Dr. Toda added. “This is a very good thing, since we allocate about $6 million a year in financial aid to our students.”
Independent accreditation is a milestone, not a destination. The distinction brings with it the requirement for continual evaluation and improvement, using specific measures to determine how the institution is meeting its mission of “Building dreams and transforming lives by providing life-long educational opportunities that strengthen our community.” That process will never end.
“The completion of this chapter in our book of history is a demonstration of our commitment to the communities we serve,” Dr. Toda concluded. “As we look forward to the future, this is the end of one journey and the beginning of a new one, full of hope and opportunities.”