The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Prince William Sound College still community friendly

School will no longer maintain its own accreditation as a junior college


Source: PWSCC website

Tuition and credit costs are not expected to rise at Prince William Sound College this year according to its president, Daniel O'Connor.

Prince William Sound College is dropping community from its name only according to its president, Dan O'Connor.

The move comes one year after the board of regents for the University of Alaska recommended the Valdez school ""drop separate accreditation and join the ranks of sister community campuses as the Prince William Sound College of the University of Alaska Anchorage..."

Last week, the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities has approved the change.

Few will notice the difference O'Connor said in an interview Monday.

"Our commitment to the people here will not change," he said, and many of the traditional functions of the school as a community college – such as administering GED testing and special interest classes – will remain in place.

Critics of the change have worried that local education decisions could be undermined by UAA.

"The college is in the communities that we serve," O'Connor said, talking about the Valdez campus and its satellites, which includes Glennallen and Cordova, and local needs will always be in the forefront of educational offerings.

Last year, UAA said that the college would maintain autonomy while shedding ever-increasing administrative requirements to maintain its accreditation.

Costs for attending will also remain static this year he said. Tuition at PWSCC is considerably less expensive than at UAA. As Prince William Sound College, tuition will remain at $160 per credit and the school will maintain its policy of not charging higher tuition for students from out of state.

"We're going to maintain the same rates we always charged," he said.

O'Connor said the move has saved the local campus hundreds of thousands of dollars as UAA assumed costs for numerous administrative and technical needs.

"We've had multiple changes financially that have really helped us," he said.

A press release issued by the college last week spelled out the savings.

It said that an information technology positions audit, equipment and infrastructure inventory, and services and processes that were merged with UAA IT Department saved PWSCC at least $100,000; Human Resources processes being streamlined and transitioned to UAA HR for data entry and archival of documents saves the college the equivalent of a fully-benefited employee position, around $80,000; and financial aid processes and disbursements are now maintained at UAA with the valued-added opportunity for ongoing support and staff training, saving another $80,000.

The college will also save costs associated with maintaining a separate accreditation.

"They've taken on that burden for us," O'Connor said.

There will be gradual changes in the coming years as PWSC merges with UAA.

Source: PWSCC Facebook page

President Dan O'Connor said it is unclear when the official name-change will occur and expects the transition to take up to three years.

"Some changes that may provide challenges, such as increased standards for the high school dual credit program, will provide a higher quality experience for students in the long run," the college said.

So when will the name change officially come?

That is a hard call to make O'Connor said. Mainly because it is expensive to change signage, edit printed materials already published and other hidden costs associated with changing a name.

"We're going to develop and timeline," O'Connor said. "It's going to be a two to three year process."


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