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ECC issued warning for two accreditation standards

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Erie Community College has been issued a warning on two accreditation standards.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the warning comes from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. 

“I’m here today just to give you a heads up. This will be on the Middle States website, I believe, on Thanksgiving Day,” remarked Dan Hocoy, president of ECC. 

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Dan Hocoy, president of ECC, discusses warning from the board room on the downtown campus Wednesday.

The Middle States issued the warning to ECC in a letter dated November 17, 2017. ECC is lacking on two new accreditation Standards V and VI, educational effectiveness and finances.

“They cited us for insufficient faculty participation in assessment, course learning outcomes not integrating with program learning outcomes and standard six is in regard to our finances, so they are concerned with our financial sustainability. For the past three years we’ve dipped into our reserves and we’ve raised tuition and student fees,” Hocoy noted.

The information was based on material issued by the college in June before Hocoy was appointed and began his new post in July. ECC will work to improve student retention and generate new revenues with online programs for adults.   

“Instead of relying on high school graduates as our source of tuition revenue, we are going to focus on working adults. We have six programs that are completely, 100% online. We have certificates like accounting which are completely online. I believe this is an untapped market and so we are going to strengthen and move aggressively in that direction. We are also going to look at residences, especially for the north campus, because many students are going to Niagara County Community College because they want the college experience,” explained Hocoy.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he issued a letter to Middle States explaining the county included additional ECC funding in the 2018 budget. 

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz appeared at ECC Wednesday for an update on the warning from the Middle States.

“The review, my understanding, is based off the information that was provided in June. We actually did an update so that they did understand that there was additional assistance that was coming from the county,” Poloncarz tells WBFO News.

ECC must submit a “monitoring report” next September and Middle States will review progress next October. 

“In October of 2018, the date yet to be determined, Middle States will come to campus and review our progress in light of that monitoring report and seeing where we are currently with regard to those standards V and VI. At a later point, they will make a determination as to whether we are, subsequent to that visit, still on warning, off warning or on probation. We are currently fully accredited and will be through this process of being on warning, so there is not an issue there,” Hocoy stated.

Hocoy explained ECC is not alone in this warning, with other SUNY schools facing probation. “Nassau Community College is currently on probation,” Hocoy said.

Hocoy referred to the warning as a “legacy” issue.  Andrew Sako, president of Faculty Federation of ECC, agreed.

“Since president Hocoy has come in, there has been a much more transparent working relationship with all the members of the college,” Sako stated.

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