Executive Director Update - October 2009

Monitoring Economic Conditions: Impact on Key Statistics

Insights regarding the impact of economic conditions on the placement and cohort default rates of member institutions will be an important element of the Council’s December meeting.  The review occurs each year following the submission of annual institutional reports by members and the release of aggregate and individual cohort default rates by the U.S. Department of Education. Information is analyzed and verified by ACICS staff; the Council reviews the data as part of its mission to monitor institutional quality and serve as a resource to member institutions.  Last April, the Council requested staff to review retention and placement issues related to declining economic conditions. Then the Council considered contingency plans in August and instructed staff to provide more information for review on a case by case basis, based on the most recent data available from annual institutional reporting.


Federal Update: HEOA’s Regulatory Impact

Members of the ACICS executive team met with senior officials from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Post-secondary Education to review the implications of new regulations derived from the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.  ACICS provided the Department with a written update in July on topics including accreditation appeals, transfer of credit and distance education. The Department has scheduled a second round of negotiated rulemaking beginning in November that will focus on, among other issues, job placement in a recognized field, serving Ability to Benefit students, and standards for high school diplomas or credentials.  ACICS also discussed with the Department new regulations from the first round of negotiated rulemaking that apply to distributed education enterprises. In short, the new provisions create an opportunity for ACICS to revise and enhance accrediting standards and practices that are applied to certain kinds of multi-campus systems. A growing percentage of ACICS institutions may fit the category of “distributed enterprise” defined by the new regulations. Regulations from the first round of rulemaking will become effective July 1, 2010. Regulations from the second round – schedule to complete in January 2010 -- will not be effective before July 1, 2011.


Outreach to VA, MO, TX, CA and MA Associations

State association conferences provide an opportunity for ACICS officials to meet with the owners and directors of colleges and schools, and review the critical issues affecting their operations on a local basis. ACICS directors participated in discussions with state regulatory officials recently in Virginia, Kansas/Missouri, Texas, California and Massachusetts.  ACICS officials will visit the Ohio and Maryland state association conferences in the coming weeks and are eager to hear from member colleges and schools; members and conferees are encouraged to make an introduction when given the opportunity.


Respiratory, Radiologic Recognition Update

The latest initiative to enhance access to specialized, programmatic accreditation has enabled ACICS to collaborate with other private post-secondary accreditors and associations to provide information to ARRT (radiologic care) and CoARC (respiratory care) about institutional quality and rigor.  In both cases, the agencies have subsequently revised proposed regulations to preserve the ability of ACICS institutions to seek programmatic accreditation for their respiratory care or radiologic technologist programs. ACICS encourages institutions that offer programs for which specialized accreditation is available to seek programmatic accreditation.  Contact Anthony Bieda, Director of Regulatory Affairs, at 202.336.6781 if you have questions.


New Public Member: Gary Meers, University of Nebraska

ACICS has appointed Gary Meers as the newest public member of the Council, effective January 1, 2010. Dr. Meers is a professor of Vocational Education and Director of the Cadre for Community and Human Resource Development at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He earned his doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Missouri, and his baccalaureate degree from Northwest Missouri State University. He is a past-president of the American Vocational Association and serves as a vice-president of MaxKnowledge Corp. He is a former member of the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges. ACICS by-laws require at least three public members on the 15-member council. Dr. Meers will join new Commissioners Mary Hale Barry (Kaplan Higher Education) and Ed Colon (Pinnacle Career Institute), who were elected by members.


Update on Staff at ACICS

Lindsey Withem has joined ACICS as receptionist; she is the voice of the agency for incoming calls and the person who greets in-person visitors. Ms. Withem formerly worked as an employment analyst at Apple One Employment Services.  She graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Art History and speaks French.  Please extend your welcome to her.