San Francisco's community college will remain accredited for at least two more years in a major reprieve announced Wednesday to keep the institution's doors open for nearly 80,000 students.
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges granted City College of San Francisco the additional time to resolve financial, academic and management deficiencies that had threatened to shut the Bay Area institution.
The commission, a private panel based in Novato, Calif., approved the plan at a meeting last week after considering a new evaluation of the two-year college.
"This is an important step forward for CCSF," commission Chairman Steven Kinsella said in a statement. "Although the evaluation team found 32 areas of continuing noncompliance, ACCJC's judgment is that the college, assuming a concerted and good faith effort, has the ability to resolve these issues within the two-year period."
The panel's action was "welcome news," said City College spokesman Jeff Hamilton.
"It's an acknowledgement of the extraordinary progress we've made as an institution throughout this process," Hamilton said. "We're very much looking forward to continuing the work we've done to complete the transformation of City College."
The commission sanctioned the college in 2012, requiring that it "show cause" as to why it should remain accredited. That action resulted in steep enrollment declines and a loss of funding.
But the commission itself has come under serious criticism from educators, students and federal and state lawmakers who contend that it operates with little oversight and has been heavy-handed in sanctioning City College and many other of the state's 112 community colleges.
San Francisco City Atty. Dennis Herrera, seeking to overturn the City College sanction, sued the commission alleging conflict of interest and political bias. A Superior Court judge was expected to return a decision this month. It was uncertain how the two-year reprieve would affect that ruling.
Brice Harris, chancellor of the state's community college system, said his office welcomed additional time to help City College improve operations.
"Through hard work and focused commitment by the college community, City College has entered a phase of stability and sustained improvement that will serve students well for many years to come," Harris said. "I look forward to supporting the locally elected board, faculty and staff as this progress continues."