It was my pleasure to convene the first Commission meeting of 2016, held April 1 – 3, 2016 at the CEA offices in Alexandria, VA. The Commission is charged with ensuring CEA’s sound governance and with reliable accreditation decision-making, and both tasks were carried out at the meeting.
CEA’s Policies and Procedures require that new Commissioners undergo orientation prior to their first meeting, and that further, a full-Commission orientation must take place every year at the first meeting. This orientation included analyses of the characteristics of a high-performing non-profit association and of a soundly-designed and operated accreditation agency, followed by discussion of how CEA’s policies, procedures, and practices exhibit these characteristics. Staff provided an overview of the USDE recognition process for accreditation agencies, as CEA is completing its petition for renewal of recognition this year.
Among the Commission initiatives reviewed were initial implementation of CEA’s new 2016 – 2020 Strategic Plan and the finalization of updating and reformatting of the 2016 CEA Policies and Procedures document. In order to ensure that the CEA Policies and Procedures undergoes methodical review as a whole document every year, the Commission established a standing Policies and Procedures Committee to begin in the coming months. The full Commission reviewed CEA’s IRS Form 990 before approving it for submission.
The Commission made 32 accreditation decisions, all of which were announced to federal and state agencies and the field, and which are posted for public information at the CEA website. Notably, initial accreditations continue to comprise one-third of decisions, with continued and reaccreditation actions comprising the bulk of the remainder.
The Standards Compliance Committee (SCC) reviewed 69 reports this cycle, including those related to substantive changes, accreditation reporting requirements, and Interim Reports. Staff reported that 252 Annual Reports had been received, as required of accredited sites in February each year. Each Annual Report package includes enrollment and faculty updates, data on a site’s student achievement and progression rates, and information about any regulatory changes the site has experienced. Once all Annual Reports are fully processed, the SCC will review a summary of the data, and a report will be provided to the Constituent Council as well.
A primary task in the coming months is the staff’s preparation of CEA’s petition for continued recognition by the U.S. Department of Education. In order to maintain recognition, accreditation agencies must provide an extensive report to USDE and a related advising committee (NACIQI), demonstrating how the agency complies with criteria based on federal regulations. An update on the petition will be provided following the August Commission meeting.
As the field’s specialized accreditor, CEA’s Commission must reflect the wide range of experiences, expertise, and perspectives present in the field and to accomplish this, each year the Nominating Committee solicits applications from qualified individuals. I encourage you to review the 2016 Call for Nominations and consider who would be appropriate candidates.
Also, all accredited sites are encouraged to attend the 2016 Constituent Council meeting, which is CEA’s annual business meeting. The meeting is typically held each year in conjunction with the NAFSA Conference, this year in Denver. The meeting includes committee and financial reports, and a discussion session, which is focused this year on the changes and challenges being experienced by accredited sites at this time.
I very much look forward to meeting representatives from CEA’s many accredited sites in Denver. The Constituent Council meeting will provide a time for us to review CEA’s current status as well as reflect on current challenges in the field.
Alexandra Rowe, PhD
2016 Commission Chair