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ASCC president gives Cabinet a preview of college’s 50-year history

college president Dr. Rosevonne Pato
A major celebration marking the 50 years is set for early 2021

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Among the highlights of the American Samoa Community College’s fifty-year history, says college president Dr. Rosevonne Pato is that ASCC was the first community college in the United States to be designated as a Land Grant Institution.

Dr. Pato shared this information during ASCC’s presentation at last Wednesday’s cabinet meeting at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium.

The governor had requested such presentations — covering the 8-years of the out-going Lolo Administration —  at past cabinet meetings from certain ASG departments and semi autonomous agencies.

As part of the presentation, Dr. Pato said that 2020 is “very important year for us [as] this our 50th year celebration.” She gave some highlights in the college’s history, covering 5-decades of higher education, that “marks ASCC as being very unique”.

The college was established in 1970 under the Department of Education, and it was later separated from ASDOE. In 1974, ASCC was relocated to its current location at Mapusaga.

“A very significant point in the college’s history was 1981 when ASCC was designated as a Land Grant Institution,” she said. “This was the first community college in the entire nation to become a Land Grant Institution.”

She explained that all Land Grant institutions at that time were at the university level.

“So ASCC was the first community college in the whole nation to receive Land Grant Institution status,” she further explained. “This means that there was $3 million given to the Land Grant Institution to continue with agriculture and family consumer sciences to promote the continuance of our use of the land.”

Another bit of ASCC history shared by Dr. Pato, is that in 1992 — under public law 22-30 — ASCC “was granted some autonomy and what this means is that we have our own finance, procurement and human resources — as a semi autonomous agency or authority.”

Another “very significant point in ASCC’s history” was in 2004, when the Legislature set the Board of High Education, which governs ASCC — as having six members, appointed by the governor (and confirmed by the Fono).

The 7th member, is the Education director who an ex-officio member and the 8th is a student representative, elected by the ASCC student body. And these two members — under the 2004 law — have the full authority to select the President of ASCC, similar to other six members.

“So this was a very important mark in the history of ASCC because the president is not appointed by the governor” but that authority is given to the board “so that no political influence enters into the selection of the president,” Dr. Pato explained, adding that in order for the college to be compliance with its accreditation standards, the board selects the college president.

She pointed out that ASCC has been accredited since 1976 and continues to be accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools of Colleges.

Another milestone in ASCC’s history was that in 2013 “we were accredited for our Bachelors degree in Education,” she said and explained that ASCC cannot continue as an accredited institute of higher education, unless it follows and complies with four standards.

Among the standards is that “we must insure institutional effectiveness — that means, we must be accredited. We if do not have accreditation, we will loose all federal funding. The standards that we follow are so important and we must comply with these standards.”

“We must always continue to improve and stay with a strong integrity. And so our planning must be in place and program review must continue also,” she emphasized.

Another standard to be in compliance with is the “education programs”, she said, noting that the college has certain degrees and certificates that are conferred and “we continue to have outreach awareness and so on to be in compliance on status as a community college.

ASCC “also must abide by compliance with our resources — finance, human resources, technological resource and physical facilities,” she explained.

Among the other issues of interest shared by Dr. Pato is that while ASCC comprises 51 acres of land, only 12 acres house the building facilities for the college. She said the rest of the land needs to be developed and this has been an issue that ASCC continues to face.

“I hope that we start addressing it, on how we’re going to use the rest of the acreage that we have,” she said and revealed that there have been issues, such as boundaries, as well as issues of land ownership.

ASCC is looking at early next year for a major celebration marking the 50th anniversary.