State’s Biggest Community College Calls Imminent Closure a “Teachable Moment”

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


City College of San Francisco, the largest community college in California, is fighting for its life after receiving official notice that its accreditation will be yanked in June 2013 if it doesn’t correct a number of long-standing problems.

The school can’t receive public funding under state law without the accreditation, putting at risk the continued education of its 90,000 students. It offers a broad range of academic studies in addition to vocational training in nursing, culinary arts and aircraft mechanics at nine primary campuses and nearly 200 neighborhood sites.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges listed 14 deficiencies in a report just issued, expanding on eight major problems cited in 2006—many of which remain unaddressed—when it first threatened the school with sanctions. City College has contested some of the assertions made in the report but embraced the findings on its website as “a teachable moment to do better.”   

The 66-page report cited a “veil of distrust among the governance groups” and a “failure to react to ongoing reduced funding” among its complaints. Pamila Fisher, who became City College interim chancellor in May when Don Griffin resigned to undergo surgery for a brain tumor, wrote in response that “clear, difficult choices must be made, immediately, and at a number of levels.”

More specifically, the report recommends the school add more classified staff and administrators, more efficiently operate and maintain existing facilities, secure its technology infrastructure, manage its finances better to avoid “excessive” short-term borrowing, improve assessments of student learning and achievement,.and do a better job of reporting its financial information.

The college recently approved a $187 million budget for 2012-13—an $8 million reduction from the year before—that includes union givebacks, a purchasing freeze and elimination of 700 classes.

City College blamed reduced funding for many of its difficulties but the report said other schools faced with the same financial problems manage to function properly. Compton College is the only community college shut down in recent years (2005), and only two other colleges are on the brink: College of the Redwoods in Eureka and Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo. There are 112 schools in the California Community College system.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

California's Biggest Community College Fights to Survive (by Ronnie Cohen, Reuters)

City College of San Francisco on Brink of Closure (by Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle)

San Francisco's City College Threatened with Closure (by Matt Krupnick, Bay Area News Group)

Evaluation Report (pdf)

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