GCC: momentum marks 7-year accreditation

Dr. Mary Okada, GCC president (PNC file photo)

Higher learning and the stamp of authenticity

Guam – Guam Community College has reached yet another milestone. The institution of higher learning’s accreditation has been reaffirmed for seven more years.

“Si Yu’os Ma’ase, on behalf of all of us, for your continued work and support for the Guam Community College, thank you,” GCC President Dr. Mary Okada said to those gathered to celebrate the good news at the college’s modern Learning Resource Center on Friday morning.

The Guam Community College’s seal of approval comes from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges—a branch of the familiar Western Association of Schools and Colleges—and recognized by the US Department of Education.

The Evaluation Team issued four commendations to GCC for exceeding expectations:

  • (1) Sustained assessment of student learning
  • (2) Only GovGuam agency designated ‘low risk’ for 16 years straight
  • (3) Transformation and innovation for student success
  • (4) Pres. Okada’s leadership vision and effectiveness

The college’s wide-ranging student reach, plethora of work-ready programs, and ongoing modernization all appear to be flowing in one direction: progress.

“So we are really moving here at GCC,” Jayne Flores said. “President Okada has a vision and she really wants to take it forward, and we’re all behind her one hundred percent. And, as you can tell, we’re very excited about our accreditation status!” she said. Flores is Asst. Director, Communications & Promotions at GCC.

And what’s not to be excited about, with high school summer programs in the mix? GCC Sustainability & Projects Coordinator Kiko Palacios is helping lead a woodcraft workshop for teenagers inside a tiny warehouse rattling with the din of hammers banging planks together from recycled palettes. But this is more than just plain old high school wood shop.

“Right before the building and development of the palette furnitures, they were actually drafting them,” Palacios said. “They were in the drafting class learning how to design and develop the designs before they come in here and actually build it.”

Summer student Carlo Reyes Granillo, a junior at Father Duenas Memorial School, has caught the spark of inspiration after drafting furniture designs on the college’s AutoCAD (Computer Aided Design) system this summer. That’s the step just before the construction phase. PNC asked Carlo if he fancies himself a future architect or engineer.

“I wouldn’t say that I did too good, but I think I was doing a good [enough] job, and I would consider architecture sometime in my future,” Carlo said.

GCC even offers basic six-week construction trades boot camps for adults. “It really is an opportunity for students to build skills, life skills, to take out into their community or even home,” GCC Assoc. Dean Pilar Williams said.

Someday, these students may find themselves designing and building with the same sustainable construction standards now in effect and underway everywhere you turn at GCC.

Okada, herself, has earned a reputation for her financial acumen in attracting and managing a $100 million in development, deftly navigating the landscape of federal grants and local resources to redesign and reconstruct the campus with durable, efficient, weather-resistant buildings that earn such illustrious designations as “LEED Gold certified” (a certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).


June 15, 2018   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   12:00 p.m.

GCC accredited for full 7 years by ACCJC

The Guam Community College has been awarded full seven-year accreditation – the longest period possible for a community college – by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

“We are very pleased, yet not surprised, by the ACCJC announcement,” said Dr. Mary Okada, GCC President. “Everyone at GCC, from the faculty, to the staff and our administrators, has been working diligently in their various roles since our last visit in 2012 to ensure that all of the ACCJC recommendations for improvement we received back then were implemented, and that our assessment and governance processes are working and viable.”

The ACCJC peer review team met June 6-8 to consider GCC’s accreditation status, following a 10-member ACCJC team visit to the College March 7-9, 2018, and following the submission in January 2018 of the College’s required Institutional Self-Evaluation Report to the commission. The peer review team gave GCC four commendations, signifying that the institutions has exceeded standards in the following areas:

  • Commendation 1 – The Evaluation Team commends Guam Community College for its sustained and collegial dialogue about the assessment of student learning. Assessment results have been broadly communicated through the publication of the Annual Institutional Assessment Report which has been issued for 16 consecutive years. (ACCJC Standards I.B.1, I.B.8)
  • Commendation 2 – The Evaluation Team commends Guam Community College for being the only agency of the Government of Guam to be designated as low-risk for 16 consecutive years. GCC’s robust fiscal planning and astute fiscal management has allowed it to maintain student tuition and fees at the same level since the fall of 2011, a key component to student access and, ultimately, student success. (Standard III.D)
  • Commendation 3 – The Evaluation Team commends Guam Community College for its transformational initiatives through the President’s Innovative Ideas Program and Small Assessment Grant Awards, which support student learning, expand access, and improve success in college-level curriculum. The is the result of institutional leaders creating an environment that encourages innovations like Reach for College, DEAL, Chalani 365, and CLYMER. (Standards II.A.4, II.C, IV.A.1)
  • Commendation 4 – The Evaluation Team commends the President for her vision and effectiveness of her leadership which has transformed and expanded the campus by steadfastly pursuing grants and commitments for new buildings, including the first LEED Gold certified building for the Government of Guam. (Standard IV.B)

The ACCJC peer review team had no recommendations for compliance, and no recommendations for improving institutional effectiveness for GCC.

“Dr. Okada and I have been on several ACCJC evaluation teams for peer colleges, and to have received no recommendations for compliance, and no recommendations for improvement, is rather amazing,” said Dr. Ray Somera, GCC Vice President for Academic Affairs and GCC’s Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO). As the GCC ALO, Dr. Somera oversees the assessment process at the College.

“Proper assessment ensures that an institution is analyzing the effectiveness of its curriculum, its budget processes, and its governance processes, to ensure that they all work together effectively toward the goal of student success,” said Dr. Somera. “We are extremely proud of having received such a glowing report as a high performing institution from the ACCJC.”