MERCED, Calif. — Merced College earned a spotless review from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) last week, as the commission reaffirmed the district’s accreditation for the maximum term of seven years, with no violations of compliance requirements and no recommendations for improving institutional effectiveness.

The commission issued its findings June 12 in a letter to the college, including one commendation for how the college “lives its mission and uses data in cross-disciplinary initiatives to support student learning and student achievement.”

“This commendation underscores our commitment to excellence and innovation in supporting our students’ success,” Merced College President Chris Vitelli said. “It is a recognition of the outstanding work being done across our district and the positive impact we are making in our students’ lives.”

Accreditation is a self-evaluation process to determine whether an institution meets with standards of good practice regarding mission, goals, and objectives. The accreditation process allows institutions to improve academic quality, institutional effectiveness and student success, and being accredited assures the public of the institution’s integrity and educational quality.

Accreditation is also important because it qualifies Merced College to provide federal financial aid to students. In the 2023-24 academic year, more than $24.5 million in federal financial aid, grants and work study was provided to Merced College students.

Accreditation Process and Results

The process of reaffirming Merced College’s accreditation began in late 2021 with the development of the college’s Institutional Self-Evaluation Report (ISER), a lengthy and thorough document that was finalized and submitted to the ACCJC in the summer of 2023, in advance of the ACCJC’s on-site visit in early 2024.

A six-member Peer Review Team visited the college Feb. 13-14, meeting with dozens of college administrators, faculty, classified professionals and students to evaluate how well the college is achieving its stated purposes. Their findings were compiled into a Peer Review Team Report.

“The team applauds the college’s use of Student Success Teams, including instructional faculty, recruitment and retention specialists, student support, and financial aid, to leverage data and insights across various facets of the college,” the team wrote in its report. “Throughout the visit, the team identified multiple innovative instances of this exemplary cross-disciplinary work, including the Equity Hub, the Learning Resource Center, the Early Alert System, and the securing of multiple grants to support these and other student-centered initiatives, all of which leverage multi-faceted data points to inform planning for student success.”

The Peer Review Team Report, along with the college’s ISER and other materials, were reviewed by the ACCJC at its meeting June 5-6, when the decision was made to reaffirm the college’s accreditation for the full seven years.

The next report from the college will be a Midterm Report due on March 15, 2028. The next comprehensive review will begin with an ISER Review in the fall of 2030 and conclude with a Focused Site Visit in the spring of 2031.

“On behalf of the Merced College Board of Trustees, I’d like to congratulate President Vitelli and the entire Merced College community on an exemplary accreditation review and reaffirmation,” Board President Carmen Ramirez said. “This remarkable achievement establishes a solid foundation on which we can continue to build and grow Merced College to become one of the most innovative and student-focused colleges in the nation.”