Students deserve accreditation process that’s free from politics 

The leadership of Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges recently announced that City College of San Francisco's "decrepit and ancient laboratories" are a reason it believes CCSF's closure is justified. I believe this to be a mischaracterization of CCSF's facilities, which are neither "ancient" nor "decrepit."

Our oldest laboratories stand within a sandstone-clad building placed on Franciscan bedrock, designed and built in 1940 by Timothy Flueger, the architect of the Pacific Stock Exchange and Roosevelt Middle School, as well as many other widely-admired Art Deco structures in San Francisco. Some of CCSF's 12 chemistry laboratory classrooms show signs of deferred maintenance, while others are state of the art. This is true at UC Berkeley and many other institutions renowned for academic excellence.

If the ACCJC site team that visited City College of San Francisco in 2012 viewed the CCSF chemistry department's locked laboratory classrooms, they did so without my knowledge.

When CCSF hosted the Two-Year College Chemistry Consortium's 187th Conference in March 2010 some attendees from California and across the country remarked that they would be pleased if their college were to have one specific piece of chemical instrumentation (e.g.:GC-MS), where CCSF has two. CCSF is a national leader in biotechnology, as evidenced by the over twenty sections of biotechnology classes offered this fall while some bay area community colleges plan to offer only one this fall.

In 1986, I graduated from South Lakes High School in Reston Virginia. In 1994, I received a Ph. D. in chemistry from U.C. Berkeley. In 1997, I began teaching chemistry full-time at CCSF. Having taught chemistry in the U.S. and abroad I can tell you that CCSF is a vibrant and vital institution. I love teaching chemistry at CCSF because of the fantastic students that have, since 1935, come from around the world.

I would like to tell you about a few of my students.

Hosea Nelson was a high school dropout sheet-metal worker when he enrolled in City College of San Francisco in 1999. He transferred to U.C. Berkeley and after receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry went on to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry from Cal Tech. Today Hosea is back at U.C. Berkeley as a post-doctoral fellow with a big National Science Foundation grant.

Josh Biddle went to college right after graduating from high school in Marin County. After a year he dropped out and went to work on his grandmother's farm. A few years later, in 2006, he decided to give college a second try at City College of San Francisco. Josh transferred to U.C. Berkeley where he got straight As, won the University Medal and got to speak at graduation. Today, Josh is a third year medical student at UCSF.

Gina Perez-Baron was a secretary at Genentech when she enrolled in City College of San Francisco in 1997. Gina transferred to San Francisco State University and went on to Stanford Medical School. After graduating with honors she founded a clinic in New Mexico to address the unmet health needs of her fellow Native Americans.

On May 23, two of my former students, Dennis Mulligan and Larry Tran, received an Associate's of Science degree in chemistry and I believe each one day will return to the city by the bay to tell his own unique success story.

All college students deserve an accreditation evaluation process that is free from politics. The body of evidence will support a rise in the fortunes of CCSF and I am optimistic that 2015 will celebrate its 80thanniversary as the biggest, oldest, and strongest community college in the area.

Dr. Mike Solow, CCSF Chemistry Department Chairperson

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Mike Solow

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