The accrediting organization overseeing Harrisburg Area Community College has placed the system on warning status.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education found HACC was lacking in three of its 14 criteria during the five-year periodic review.

But HACC and Middle States officials emphasized the system, which includes a York campus, is not in any immediate danger of losing its accreditation, which allows a college to grant diplomas.

The periodic review, done halfway after HACC was given its 10-year accreditation, helps make sure a college is fulfilling its obligations, said Middle States spokesman Richard Pokrass.

HACC had issues in the areas of Institutional Assessment, which deals with how well a college can monitor and show it's doing everything it says it's doing; Assessment of Student Learning, which deals with a college tracking classroom learning and having a system to improve instruction; and General Education.

All three areas are common for colleges and universities that end up on warning status, Pokrass said.

And in HACC's case, the issue was with documentation and supplying enough supporting evidence to prove it is sufficiently meeting the standards.

"The work is there, the effort is there, the documentation of it isn't quite what Middle States wanted," said HACC spokeswoman Tracy Mendoza.


HACC has until next September to submit a report with the supporting documentation, after which Middle States will do a site visit. If everything is satisfactory, HACC will be taken off warning status.

Schools have a two year window to come back into compliance, Pokrass said; if they don't, they lose accreditation and with it, the ability to grant diplomas or offer classes for credit.

"I just don't see that happening with HACC. It's something that's easily correctable," Pokrass said.

HACC President John J. "Ski" Sygielski said in a release he is "confident that HACC will meet these requirements."

Some measures have been taken already to improve HACC's ability to assess its work, Sygielski said, including a Community College Survey of Student Engagement conducted this fall and additional student surveys coming up.