We have full confidence that East Central College will address the areas of concern identified by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and will come out a stronger institution as President Jon Bauer has promised.

The HLC validates the quality of institutions as a whole and evaluates multiple aspects from academic offerings to governance and administration.

A report provided to ECC highlights areas that need to be improved and recommends the HLC governing board place ECC on probationary status. The college is developing a written response and a hearing on the recommendation will be held in late April. A final determination on probation could come as late as fall.

The report identified several current processes, procedures and operations that need to be strengthened, mostly administrative. None of the issues are about the quality of programming and all are “fixable,” according to Bauer, who said the college is taking the report very seriously and already working to address all concerns.

It should be noted the report lauds the college for its community support, mission and integrity, as well as its finances and technology.

As college officials work to address the findings, it will be business as usual and student learning will not be impacted. Financial aid, scholarships, transfer credits and programs, and quality of instruction will not be affected in any way.

Community colleges, specifically ECC, are accessible to all and help not only high school graudates continue their education in a much more economical way — sometimes the only option for families with limited finances — but also are essential for workforce training and retraining of older workers.

Community colleges offer real value beyond the lower price tag of tuition. They are key to building a stronger and more competitive workforce, providing employers with highly skilled and well-prepared workers.

We are fortunate to have a community college here. For the last 50 years, ECC has provided quality and affordable education for this community, and we expect that to continue for another 50 years and beyond.