April 2020 News from CEA

Message from Susan Carkin, 2020 Commission Chair
Greetings on behalf of CEA. I’m honored to be CEA’s chair for what has started out as quite a challenging year. I have the further honor of working with CEA’s new Executive Director, Heidi Vellenga, PhD, who served CEA as Associate Director for the past five years. Heidi’s deep experience and knowledge of CEA operations have permitted a relatively seamless transition to the new year and ongoing work. CEA’s previous Executive Director, Dr. Mary Reeves, has agreed to stay involved part-time in 2020 as Executive Advisor to support CEA and ensure a smooth transition, as planned.

CEA’s regular April meeting was held virtually on its scheduled dates, April 4 - 6, after a brief sound check and practice session with CEA tech support the night before the meeting. The Zoom platform afforded us some new ways of working while also ensuring security of documents and discussion. The Commission accomplished its planned work: annual orientation of the full Commission, accreditation decisions, professional development sessions, committee meetings, and the range of reports and updates that are delivered in every meeting. For the August meeting, the Commission has tentative plans for commissioners to be present in Alexandria, but we will remain attentive to the status of the virus and the potential risks to all involved.

Further below you’ll find a summary of CEA’s work, but I want to highlight one development reflecting CEA’s commitment to monitor developments in the field and adjust accreditation practices if warranted. At the April meeting, I presented a 2020 Scope Task Force charge to the Commission. CEA analyses reveal trends of a range of reconfigurations among English language programs and institutions as they work to manage market demands as well as institutional and demographic realities. The Task Force will review CEA’s scope and eligibility criteria to determine if changes are needed to meet the changing needs of the field. The Scope Task Force has been struck and will convene the first meeting in early May. Outcomes of the work of the Task Force will be reported to constituents and the field when available.

On a final note, I encourage you to consider the 2021-23 Call for Nominations. CEA commissioners have responsibilities in two important areas: as the accreditation decision-making body and as the governing body of CEA as a nonprofit corporation. Commissioner qualifications are outlined in the call, and the current call encourages applicants with community college experience or those who have jobs which involve at least 50% teaching. We invite you to put yourself forward or encourage others to apply to join us in serving the field and helping CEA achieve its mission.

Susan Carkin, PhD
2020 Commission Chair

Recent accreditation decisions
The Commission met virtually April 4-6, 2020 to make accreditation decisions and conduct other CEA business. Accreditation decisions are announced on the CEA website under “Recent Decisions” within 30 days of each meeting. In addition, below I’ve provided information about other Commission actions and matters. Please contact Heidi Vellenga, CEA’s Executive Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions you may have about the Commission actions, announcements and activities described below.

2020 Annual Constituent Council Meeting
CEA holds an annual business meeting in keeping with its status as a Virginia corporation. The meeting, which is delivered virtually, will be held on Thursday, June 11, 2020. Members of the Constituent Council, comprised of CEA’s accredited sites, will receive the agenda and login information 30 days prior.

2020 Call for Nominations
Nominations are solicited for three new commissioners to serve for a three-year term from January 2021 through December 2023. The call was published in March, and CEA’s independent Nominating Committee will be identifying and interviewing new Commissioners to begin terms of service next year. Nominees with experience/expertise in community college settings and nominees who are currently holding positions that require at least 50% time in teaching, curriculum development, assessment activities, or other educator/academic work in the field are particularly encouraged. Applications are due July 1, 2020. For the call for nominations, please see https://cea-accredit.org/about-cea/governance/the-commission/call-for-nominations-for-the-cea-commission

CEA Statement on COVID-19
On March 11, 2020, CEA released a Statement on COVID-19 which requires accredited sites to notify CEA of any temporary accommodations made as a result of the pandemic. At this time, staff is compiling an update with guidance related to prolonged accommodations and other compliance-related matters. An announcement will be sent to the Constituent Council when updated guidance is published.

2020 Standards Review
CEA reviews a subset of the 44 standards every year. The full standards review takes place at least once every 10 years per CEA policies. In order to obtain information about the relevance and clarity of the current standards, CEA has developed a constituent and field-wide survey. The survey deadline has been extended to allow additional time for responses. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2020CEAStandardsSurvey.

Commission activities
The Commission engages in regular professional development, holding at each Commission meeting a session that will enhance commissioners’ knowledge related to their Commission responsibilities and thus build depth of expertise related to accreditation, non-profit association governance, and other matters relevant to CEA’s environment. At the April meeting, the Commission’s special guests were Jefferson Glassie, Esq. and Dorothy Deng, Esq. from Whiteford, Taylor and Preston and Carol Hamilton, Principal at Grace Social Sector Consulting.

Per temporary flexibilities extended to recognized accreditors by the US Department of Education, the Commission has recently approved three temporary policy amendments, as reflected in Section 23 (new) of the CEA Policies and Procedures. New policies relate to site visits, extensions to the period of accreditation, and eligibility during cases of extended hiatus. These policies are adopted in response to COVID-19 and will remain in place until withdrawn or revoked by the Commission.