Message from the Chair
Nearly two years after the 2013 deadline for accreditation imposed by the Accreditation Act, CEA continues to grow. Including the accreditation decisions made at the August 2015 meeting, approximately 285 programs and institutions, both in the U.S. and internationally, are CEA-accredited. The number of applicants pursuing accreditation remains high, with over 80 sites in process, equally divided between programs and institutions. Reaccreditation activities also continue to rise, as sites undergo self-study and prepare for site visits at the 5 year and 10 year marks.
I was pleased to meet many members of CEA’s Constituent Council at the annual business meeting, held May 28, 2015, in Boston in connection with the NAFSA Annual Conference. Sixty-four attendees, most Commissioners, and several CEA staff were there; each Commission standing committee reported, including the Finance Committee, which indicated that CEA is financially sound. We hope to see even more Constituent Council members at next year’s meeting in Denver.
In addition to the 28 accreditation decisions made at the August meeting (please see Recent Decisions, below), the Commission has also undertaken several important initiatives this year that will complete CEA’s transition into being a large multi-faceted agency. Updates on these initiatives, followed by brief reports on the work of the CEA standing committees are below. Among these updates is information about modest changes in 2016 fees.
On behalf of the Commission, especially in the wake of rapid growth, I would like to express sincere appreciation to the CEA staff for quality of their work, their high level of professionalism, and steadfast support of the Commission and the mission of CEA.
As usual, the Commission and CEA staff welcome comments from the Constituent Council, the field and the public regarding its activities.
2015 Commission Chair
In keeping with CEA’s policies on public disclosure, and as required by the US Department of Education, CEA announces all accreditation decisions with 30 days of the decision. Accreditation decisions made at each meeting are provided through notifications to the organizations in the field, other accrediting agencies, and to federal and state agencies, as well as to the public on the CEA website. Decisions made at the August 2015 Commission meeting are listed at the Recent Decisions tab on the landing page of the CEA website.
- The Standards Review Committee is reviewing site comments, reviewer comments, and compliance and other data to determine whether any revisions are needed to standards in the areas of Mission, Faculty, Facilities/Equipment/Supplies, and Student Complaints. The full Commission will consider recommendations for possible revisions to Discussion sections of these standards at the December meeting.
- The Standards Compliance Committee reviewed 52 compliance reports, including those addressing reporting requirements, substantive changes, and special cases.
- The Finance Committee led a full Commission review of CEA’s IRS Form 990, and reported on the positive findings of CEA’s external Financial Review.
As reported in the April News from CEA, earlier in the year the Commission undertook a strategic planning exercise and retreat day, conducted by an external facilitator, to establish CEA’s next five year plan. The Commission continued the development of the draft strategic plan, reviewing consensus strategic priorities and refining supporting goals. Implementation tasks will be finalized in the fall, and the Commission will review, adopt, and announce the 2016 – 2020 Strategic Plan in December.
In order to ensure that CEA continues to operate effectively and legally, CEA’s attorneys have conducted a review of CEA’s organizational structure, operations, risk protections, and accreditation decision practices. The invited review examined over 100 practices and documents, and resulted in updates to certain CEA protections such as those related to cybersecurity, emerging aspects of employment law, and protection of intellectual property. This review will be conducted every three to four years as part of CEA’s commitment to being a high-functioning agency.
Each year the Finance Committee reviews detailed analyses of CEA’s fee schedule and determines whether any fee changes are warranted due to changes in the costs of providing the service or activity. No fees have been increased since 2012 and for 2016, the majority of fees are unchanged, including sustaining fees. However, three types of fees will increase: the site visit fee and the special site visit fee (due to an increase in expense of travel); the application fee for eligibility (due to required staff time); and the reaccreditation application fee and timeline/plan fee (also due to required staff time). CEA strives to keep fees low and at cost recovery, with sustaining fees in place primarily to provide for operations. The 2015 and 2016 Fee Schedules are posted on the CEA website.
In early 2015, Commission Chair Christine O’Neill charged a task force to develop a solution to the unusually large number of site visits that will occur in 2018 when sites accredited in 2013 (as a result of the Accreditation Act) will be reaccredited. In order to effectively manage the accreditation process, which includes demands particularly on volunteer peer site reviewers, the number of 2018 site visits must be reduced to a sustainable level. The task force analyzed the number of visits and CEA’s policies, and obtained USDE guidance, before proposing a solution which will be implemented over the course of two years beginning in 2017. CEA staff will contact sites regarding site visit options when reaccreditation planning for each site begins.
Chairwoman O’Neill has charged a task force to review, propose revisions where necessary, and reformat the CEA Policies and Procedures and related Commission and operational procedural manuals. The Commission must vote to adopt any change to CEA’s policies; the updated documents will be considered at the December Commission meeting. Policy changes that affect accredited sites, if any, will be individually announced to the Constituent Council and the public.
In accordance with 602.23 of US Federal Regulations for accrediting agencies, a recognized accrediting agency must provide public notice that an institution or program is being considered for accreditation and must provide an opportunity for third-party comment. Comments are considered by the Commission in making accreditation decisions. A list of institutions and programs to be reviewed at the December 2015 Commission meeting as well as information about how to make a public comment is available at Upcoming Reviews tab on the landing page of the CEA website.