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CHEA Editorial on Nancy DeVos and Accreditation

July 7, 2017

The Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is the organization that accredits the accreditors. It recently published the first of a two-part editorial by John Bassett, president of Heritage University. Bassett observes,

During the Obama administration, despite large increases in Pell Grant funding, the
values of peer-review accreditation were threatened by a Department of Education
bent on turning justifiable accountability to taxpayers into federal policies on higher education. Those policies were full of regulations that increasingly seemed to replace accreditation for continuous improvement of colleges, based on their individual missions, into a strategy of compliance and uniformity. It seemed only a matter of months before American colleges and universities would be overseen by a true Ministry of Higher Education, like those in Europe, and would lose that special value of having great diversity in the very kinds of our institutions. In many ways, the United States has the best system of higher education because it does not have a system of higher education. That specialness seemed threatened.
In other words, the Obama administration was a disaster for higher education accreditation. Bassett goes on to observe that Nancy DeVos, as secretary of education, has the ability and probably the perspective to restore the accreditation process to an even keel. Given the intensity with which many academics opposed the DeVos confirmation, Bassett certainly represents an interesting change of perspective (if nothing else).
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