Key USDE Officials Provide Remarks at CHEA 2020 Annual Conference

Publication Number 87 February 13, 2020

U.S. Department of Education’s Diane Auer Jones Speaks at CHEA 2020 Annual Conference

Diane Auer JonesDiane Auer Jones, Principal Deputy Undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), spoke at a plenary session at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) 2020 Annual Conference, held January 27-29 in Washington, DC. Jones is the senior department official overseeing USDE’s accreditation work. In her remarks, Jones discussed new accreditation regulations, which became final on November 1, 2019, as well as other accreditation-related issues for USDE. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sent a short video addressing USDE’s interest and activities related to accreditation.

Three Webinars Addressing New Accreditation Regulations Held by USDE

The U.S. Department of Education held three webinars in January 2020 concerning the implementation of USDE’s new accreditation regulations published on November 1, 2019. Full recordings of these webinars are available at the links provided. Accreditation Webinar #1 addressed the accreditation rulemaking, the new recognition process, accreditation standards and the implementation timeline for the regulations. Accreditation Webinar #2 focused on substantive changes, compliance, timelines for institutions to come into compliance, alternate standards for judging institutions and student outcomes. Accreditation Webinar #3 focused on teach-outs, school closures, additional locations and state authorization for distance education.

USDE Holds Meeting of the Higher Education Triad

USDE scheduled a meeting of the higher education regulatory triad held on January 29, 2019, immediately following the conclusion of the CHEA 2020 Annual Conference. The discussion included a review of recent changes in the Department’s rules on accreditation and state authorization. Also included were discussions on ways to better identify and monitor financially fragile institutions, to support innovation in higher education and to navigate school closures in ways that best meet the needs of affected students.

National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) To Meet on February 27, 2020

Seal The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) will meet in Alexandria, Virginia on February 27, 2020. NACIQI is the advisory body that provides recommendations to the Secretary of Education on recognition of accrediting organizations. Recognition by USDE affirms that the standards and processes of accrediting organizations and state accreditation approval agencies demonstrate compliance with USDE's criteria. Click here for further information on the meeting and a meeting agenda.

The terms of five members of NACIQI expired on September 30, 2019. The five members are Simon Boehme, John Etchemendy, Susan Phillips, Frank Wu and Federico Zaragoza, all of whom were appointed by USDE. Arthur Rothkopf, appointed by the U.S. House of Representatives, has also left NACIQI. This will be the first meeting for five new members of NACIQI, appointed by the Secretary of Education with terms expiring September 30, 2025:

  • Ronnie L. Booth, Ph.D., Former President, Tri-County Technical College, Anderson, South Carolina.
  • Wallace E. Boston, Ph.D., President, American Public University System, Inc., Charles Town, West Virginia.
  • David A. Eubanks, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina.
  • D. Michael Lindsay, Ph.D., President, Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts.
  • Mary Ellen Petrisko, Ph.D., Education Consultant, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Accreditation-Related Legislation Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

House SealTwo bills related to higher education accreditation have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. On February 6, 2020, Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA and Jahana Hayes (D-CT) introduced H.R. 5768, the Accreditation Reform Act. The bill alters the current Higher Education Act by increasing the authority and oversight of accreditation by USDE and NACIQI. This mean that the federal scrutiny of accreditation would become more detailed, with greater emphasis on performance and transparency, both through the Department itself and NACIQI. The bill goes beyond the current provisions in the College Affordability Act, the current House reauthorization proposal.

Earlier, Representative Dean introduced the Reauthorization of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity Act (H.R. 5171) on November 19, 2019. The bill would permanently authorize the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. Currently, NACIQI must be reauthorized each time the Higher Education Act is extended or reauthorized.

It is unknown whether these bills will move forward, either through a separate consideration by the House Education and Labor Committee or, feasibly, through an amendment to the College Affordability Act.