After 18 months of preparation, the Prison University Project has achieved Candidacy for Accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Candidacy is a formal affiliation status granted to institutions that have successfully undergone an Eligibility review, as well as a comprehensive evaluation process, and have demonstrated their ability to fully meet all the Accreditation Standards and Commission policies within the two-year Candidate period. Credits and degrees earned by a Candidate institution are considered to be from an accredited institution
The process of seeking accreditation—and of building out the staffing, internal systems, administrative capacity, and financial resources of a robust, stand-alone academic institution—has been transformative. Joining an institutional community of practice through membership in the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges also commits us to a rigorous, ongoing peer-review process, and thus effectively embeds our commitment to high standards and accountability in the fiber of our being.
Above all, creating an independent liberal arts college inside a state prison also sends a powerful statement of commitment to the world of higher education, as well as society at large: serving this community is not an act of charity, or a means of generating revenue, or a strategy for alleviating a burden on taxpayers; our students are fully worthy and capable people, intellectuals, and citizens.
The name of our new school is Mount Tamalpais College, a reference to the prominent mountain in Marin County that dominates the view from San Quentin. Over the course of the coming year, we will continue to build out the infrastructure to support the essential functions of college operation—maintaining an independent student information system; conducting institutional research and establishing protocols for measuring effectiveness; providing students access to information technology, including library services; and establishing robust alumni support services.
The Accreditation page of our website includes resources that document our pathway to this incredible milestone.
Please note that the Prison University Project became Mount Tamalpais College in September 2020.