May 2017 News from CEA

I succeeded Alexandra Rowe as CEA’s 2017 chair, and it is my pleasure to provide this first update of the year to the public and the field. The Commission has been busy, meeting twice in 2017, once in person on April 6th – 9th and once virtually on May 10th.   The Commission’s activities have included making accreditation decisions and conducting various governance initiatives, as charged by the CEA Policies and Procedures and reflected by the agenda items described below.

Commission Orientation
As the year began, the Commission welcomed four new commissioners as well as nine continuing commissioners. As an established part of CEA’s good-governance practices, the CEA 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. These orientation sessions included review of CEA’s policies, procedures, and decision-making practices. Additionally, the Commission conducted a study of the principles that characterize a high-performing non-profit association and of the fundamentals of a soundly-designed and operated accreditation agency. CEA’s attorneys Jefferson Glassie and Dorothy Deng, from the firm of Whiteford, Taylor, Preston, attended and presented a session on Association Law, which included, for example, a review of commissioners’ fiduciary responsibilities, CEA’s responsibilities as a non-profit corporation, and liabilities and protections related to conflicts of interest, confidentiality, due process, and other matters.

Accreditation actions
CEA now accredits 327 sites. At the April meeting the Commission made 24 accreditation decisions, and at the May meeting, 3 accreditation decisions. Within 30 days of the decisions, all are announced to federal and state agencies, the public, and the field, and are listed on the CEA website. The full range of accreditation decision types are now regularly represented on the Commission’s agenda, including initial, reaccreditation, and continued accreditations; accreditation of additional branches; results of appeals; expirations; and withdrawals including closures. The Commission reviewed an analysis of all additional branch decisions since April 2014, when the additional branch policy was updated. The policy appears to be working as planned, allowing accredited sites to apply to add an additional branch and carefully supervising it for an initial period of 20 months.

Annual reports, compliance actions
As the number of accredited sites increases, related compliance reporting also increases. The Standards Compliance Committee (SCC) reviewed 91 reports this cycle. Of these, 45 related to substantive changes or their follow-up, including 4 due to changes of control or ownership. In addition, the SCC reviews Annual Reports due each year in February from all accredited sites (with some limited exceptions). The Annual Report package comprises enrollment and faculty updates, data on a site’s student achievement and progression rates, and information about any regulatory changes the site has experienced; sustaining fees; and financial statements. In 2017, 315 Annual Reports have been received. Once these are fully processed, the SCC will review a summary of the data and notable trends, and as last year, a report will be provided to the Constituent Council.

USDE recognition
Following efforts throughout 2016, in January CEA received final staff findings from the US Department of Education regarding CEA’s petition for continued USDE recognition, and in February, CEA went before the USDE’s advisory committee (NACIQI) for a final review. CEA was granted one year continued recognition with one reporting requirement. The reporting requirement relates to the USDE criteria governing the length of time a site can be out of compliance with any standard, particularly as relates to extensions “for good cause” when the specified time to come into compliance is exceeded. The Commission has established a study group to review current policies and develop new ones as needed to resolve this concern. The study group will provide analysis and a proposal to the full Commission at the August meeting, after which any policy changes will be reviewed with accredited sites and reported to USDE.

Consulting Task Force Recommendations
In 2016 the Commission established a task force to review CEA’s position on consulting and consultants. Following an extensive review of current practices in the accreditation arena, a survey of accredited sites to ascertain their perspectives and needs, surveys of CEA representatives, and several Commission discussion sessions, at the April meeting the task force provided a final report and recommendations. In the coming months, CEA will post website resources to help sites screen for CEA-knowledgeable consultants and understand how a consultant appropriately relates to CEA, while making clear that CEA doesn’t provide the names of individuals who consult.

Constituent Council Meeting
Following discussion at last year’s Constituent Council meeting in Denver, a survey of the Council, and review of the software platforms, the Commission made the decision to conduct CEA’s 2017 annual business meeting in a virtual format. The meeting has been held in all previous years at the NAFSA conference; however, the time and expense of travel for many sites is prohibitive. The virtual meeting will be held on Friday, June 9, 2017, at 12:00 Eastern. Following evaluation of this pilot, CEA will determine whether to continue to use this format for the annual meeting. The meeting agenda includes reports from each standing committee as well as an overview of CEA’s financial statements; the webinar platform will accommodate questions from attendees.

Call for Nominations
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 2017 Call for Nominations and consider who would be appropriate candidates. Applications are due July 15, 2017, for service commencing in January 2018.

Please contact Mary Reeves, CEA’s executive director, with any questions you may have.

Engin Ayvaz
2017 Commission Chair