CCSF is not too big to fail, state official warns 

click to enlarge State chancellor for California Community Colleges Brice Harris warned the City College of San Francisco board of trustees that they need to take immediate action in order to stay open. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • State chancellor for California Community Colleges Brice Harris warned the City College of San Francisco board of trustees that they need to take immediate action in order to stay open.

The state chancellor for California Community Colleges had a chilling message for the City College of San Francisco board of trustees Thursday: City College is not too big to fail.

Brice Harris spoke directly and candidly to the board about its accreditation and financial crisis. Harris said no other two-year college in the state is in the same situation.  He also said the problems with City College are well-documented in the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team’s report released in September, as well as the accreditation report released in July.

“They present a real and immediate threat to the education and financial viability of your college,” he said, “as well as its very existence.”

City College officials have been working since July to implement some 14 recommendations the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges gave the institution in order for it to remain accredited. Because of the violations, City College was placed on a “show cause” sanction, which means it must prove to the commission why it should remain in operation. The report is due to the commission March 15.

But the speed at which some changes — including an academic restructuring — are occurring has raised concerns and caused some resistance in the City College community.

Harris said the timeline for change is short and many difficult decisions remain ahead.

He said trusting the administration, including Interim Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman and Bob Agrella, a special trustee, is important to moving forward.

“It would be unfair and counter productive to question the motives of [the chancellor] and special trustee,” he said. “Time constraints do not allow for what might be considered a normal timeline for significant change. You forfeited that opportunity when it ignored concerns and fiscal challenges over the past several years.”

Harris added that everyone on campus, including those groups in collective bargaining agreements, need to work together to meet the deadlines.

While there has been some resistance to change from faculty, trustee Steve Ngo assured the state chancellor that the board was unified.

“We get it and are fully behind leadership of the chancellor,” Ngo said. “I’m confident she’ll take us where we need to be, along with help of the special trustee.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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