BHE re-confirms Dr. Seth Galea
The Board of Higher Education (BHE), the executive governing body of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) at its October 3rd meeting unanimously approved the motion to extend the tenure of Dr. Seth Galea’i as the college’s president for another two years.
This past Wednesday, October 31, Dr. Galea’i officially accepted his re-confirmation during a luncheon held in appreciation of the BHE as well as the President’s Advisory Council, a group of administrators who work closely with him.
“The Board decision was based on accomplishments such as the College achieving and maintaining accreditation status by WASC (the Western Association of Schools and Colleges)” said BHE vice chairman Pemerika Tauiliili, speaking on behalf of Chairman Uta Dr. Laloulu Tagoilelagi who is currently off island. “The process towards ASCC becoming a four year Institution is well underway,” continued Tauiliili, “and Dr. Galea’i has established a good working relationship with faculty, staff, students and the Board. In spite of the occasional shortage of funds, the College maintains its payroll, its essential operating needs, and the needs of students. This is during a period where student enrollment has increased from 956 in fall 2000 to 1,795 in fall 2012. All in all, the Board hopes to work in close cooperation with President Galea’i and we wish him another successful two years."
Dr. Seth Galea’i became the ASCC President in 2008, succeeding the late Dr. Adele Satele-Galea’i who had stepped down for health reasons. During his administration, he has guided the College through challenging periods such as ASCC being placed on probationary status by WASC in 2009, as well as periods of expansion such as the development of the four-year Teacher Education and the many campus-wide renovations and upgrades recently made possible through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA).
“The probation status from WASC came as a surprise,” recalled Dr. Galea’i, “but we immediately rallied around the idea of strengthening our focus on the identification and assessment Student Learning Outcomes, strategic planning and institutional effectiveness, which has made us all the more accountable to academic standards in the long run. By all of us at ASCC pulling together as a team, we were able to return to full accreditation in record time.” Today, Dr. Galea’i’s primary focus is on the accreditation of a four-year ASCC degree in Teacher Education, a process expected to culminate early next year. “We’ve worked in collaboration with WASC during the steps leading to our first Bachelors in Education degree,” he said. “We have currently achieved Candidate status, which means our Bachelor in Education degree is now recognized by the US Department of Education and our students in the program can qualify for financial aid.”
Candidate status for the Bachelor in Education degree is the last step before full recognition by WASC, but its development has entailed a complex process involving the two separate WASC accrediting entities. “Besides establishing a four-year curriculum and securing the necessary staff and facilities,” said Dr. Galea’i, “the complexity of this process has to do with fulfilling the requirements of both the Accrediting Commission of Junior and Community Colleges (ACCJC) who oversee two-year institutions, as well as the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (ACSCU) who we have been working with in developing our Bachelor degree.
“My hope is that we use Teacher Education as a template for developing four-year degrees in additional programs,” reflected Dr. Galea’i. “Nursing and Business are two programs that immediately come to mind for similar development, but not the only ones. This will take time, but ultimately, I agree that ASCC could become the only US-accredited four-year institution in this region of the Pacific. I hope that all of the planning, expansion and improvements made during my time as president move us further towards that goal.”
Working towards this long-term vision, Dr. Galea’i credits the BHE and his colleagues in the ASCC administration, faculty and staff for keeping the institution running smoothly on a day-to-day basis and focused on its mission and goals. “Without their professionalism, knowledge and dedication, we could not have enjoyed the recent progress we’ve made nor could we maintain our commitment towards the academic excellence we continue to strive for,” he said. “I feel lucky that my colleagues make my job so much easier, and that the BHE has extended me both their support as well as enough latitude that our working relationship is balanced and productive.”