The biggest thing is: there is absolutely no threat in a Partnership Resource Team (PRT) visit. The whole focus is on help and collaboration.

Debbie DiThomas

The key to any large-scale initiative is cooperation – making sure that all stakeholders are heard, heeded, and when necessary, helped. IEPI was built on this precise philosophy, stressing cooperation above all else.

Barstow Community College President Debbie DiThomas has experienced the project from both sides – PRT leader for a recent trip to Clovis Community College, and as president of one of the first institutions to receive a PRT visit.

“There are a lot of strengths with the people within our system – [IEPI] allows us to share those strengths between institutions,” says DiThomas. “It’s all about ‘let’s help each other’ – and, through IEPI, that attitude is permeating the whole system.”

As a small-college administrator in an independent district, DiThomas knows first-hand the struggles that many California colleges face. The IEPI visits, she says, are an especially crucial resource for institutions stressed by staff time and funding.

“One of the best parts of the whole thing is that the colleges identify their own issues – we know what’s going on with our colleges,” she says. “Then this initiative allows us to call on expertise within the system, in a non-punitive, non-judgmental process to address the issues identified. The biggest thing is: there is absolutely no threat in a PRT visit. The whole focus is on help and collaboration."

DiThomas is especially impressed by the initiative’s organization and leadership.

“It’s just absolutely perfect the way the Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative is organized, and I give the credit to Dianne Van Hook, her team at College of the Canyons, Matthew Lee, and the IEPI Advisory Group.”