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Luna Community College taken off probation

SANTA FE, N.M. — Luna Community College was taken off probation by a regional college accreditation commission and is now in compliance with accreditation criteria, the Las Vegas-based school announced in a news release Thursday.

“Luna Community College is poised to move forward with a renewed commitment to serving the educational and workforce training needs of northern New Mexico,” the college said.

A letter from Higher Learning Center President Barbara Gellman-Danley says the community college has been removed from probation and is now assigned to interim monitoring. It is required to host a “focused visit” with HLC officials by February 2022 at which time the community college must demonstrate that its economic model is “leading toward long-term financial stability.”

The decision to take Luna off probation came after a focused visit earlier this month. The HLC’s Board of Trustees took the action on Nov. 5, according to the letter.

The Chicago-based Higher Learning Center oversees accreditation for nearly 1,000 colleges and universities in 19 mostly western states. The accreditation process is based on a peer review system and involves the evaluation of academic offerings, governance and administration and finances at each institution.

In a statement Thursday, Luna Interim President Kenneth Patterson thanked everyone involved in the effort to remove sanctions placed on the school more than three years ago.

“Because of the HLC and the standards established, our college has a better foundation. This process will have the net result of making us stronger as we pursue our No. 1 goal — continuing to create opportunities for our students and communities,” he said.

Luna was issued a “show cause” order in November 2017 following allegations of administrative misconduct and lack of financial controls and placed on probation a year later. It’s probationary status was affirmed a year ago.

The letter to Patterson says the HLC board’s decision to take Luna off probation was based on it meeting criteria demonstrating “integrity in its financial, academic and auxiliary functions.” It cited new policies that prevent nepotism and support ethical behavior, require training on the Open Meetings Act, governance, fiduciary responsibility for Luna’s Board of Trustees, and a policy adopted earlier this year designed to keep board members from “overstepping boundaries.”

Trustees also signed a code of ethics and conflict of interest policy affirming they will not encroach of the day-to-day operations at Luna, the letter noted.

Luna Community College has an enrollment of about 1,000 students and offers 16 associates programs and certificate programs in such fields as education, nursing, health sciences, business and STEM subjects.


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