Open Letter from the Commission (February 20, 2004)
Middle States Commission on Higher Education
3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Tel: 267-284-5000
M E M O R A N D U M
Presidents of Member & Candidate Institutions,
MSCHE Commissioners, and
Other Colleagues in Higher Education
FROM: Jean Avnet Morse, MSCHE Executive Director
DATE: February 20, 2004
SUBJECT: Regional Accreditation and Reauthorization of
The Higher Education Act
of us have much at stake in the reauthorization of the Higher Education
Act. If reauthorization occurs this year, it will come together very
quickly over the next four to five months. It is likely that other
national organizations will inform you about and seek your support for
other aspects of this vitally important legislation. Therefore, the
Middle States Commission on Higher Education thought it prudent to
share a legislative proposal that carries the name of our Commission
and the names of the higher education commissions for the North
Central, Northwest, Southern, and Western regions.
we listened over the past months, we learned that Congress had an
agenda for the recognition of accrediting agencies. Specifically,
lawmakers had signaled their intent to make recognized accrediting
agencies more accountable for institutional quality, more forthcoming
with information about member institutions to facilitate consumer
choice, as well as more responsible for easing transfer and ensuring
the quality of distance education.
also learned from key personnel at the U.S. Department of Education
(USED) and others that members of Congress and their staffs questioned
the absence of any voice as recognizably coming from regional
accreditation commissions. Finally, both USED and Congressional staffs
repeatedly expressed their interest in hearing legislative proposals
from accreditors that would address the accountability agenda in an acceptable and workable manner.
response, several of the regional accrediting commissions combined
time, talents, and resources to create a stronger presence in Washington.
We concluded that our major interest in this legislation demanded that
we put before the lawmakers and the Department a concrete proposal for
the sections of the law related to accountability and the recognition
of accreditation agencies. We tailored this proposal to be in accordance
the Goals for the Reauthorization of Higher Education that had been
adopted by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) in
late April and which all of you should have received. Click here to
read our proposal in Adobe PDF format.
We have shared our proposal with legislators, legislative staffs, USED, and leaders of other Washington
higher education organizations, and have received favorable responses.
In our documents we have put before Congress a legislative proposal
that we believe addresses the Congressional agenda for accrediting
agencies and that is consistent with the responsibilities that accreditors and accredited institutions have to our students and to the public.
creating a productive relationship with the federal government through
our participation in this reauthorization, we hope to avoid some of the
extremely burdensome and unnecessary approaches that others have
Commission welcomes your comments, and we hope that after reviewing the
proposal you will be an advocate for it as you meet with members of
Congress or with other presidents in the course of your involvement