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Message to Membership

Dear ACICS Members:

The concerns I have heard from a number of you and likely felt by all are understandable and we share them here at ACICS. My hope here is to address some of these issues beginning with the most misunderstood aspect of the current circumstances: your institution remains an accredited postsecondary school, albeit with an agency that is not "recognized" by the U.S. Department of Education. ACICS existed long before the Department came into being and continues to operate day-to-day as a fully functioning, non-profit corporation, with member institutions and a capable staff and Council. ACICS also retains its "recognition" by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as reported to the membership just over a month ago in an email notification to the field. ACICS accredited institutions are bound by the bylaws, criteria and policies until such time as they lose their accredited status, whether voluntarily through resignation or by a formal action of the Council. That said, loss of USDE recognition is not by any stretch of the imagination a minor factor and its implications for state licensing, programmatic agency approvals and access to alternative accrediting agencies are existential in nature. In essence you are caught in a situation where your accreditation with ACICS is now treated as irrelevant by the USDE, despite the fact that we still receive inquiries and forward notifications in the normal course, yet still relevant to the state agencies concerns and other accrediting agencies where that standing matters as you are being reviewed in the context of their eligibility and application processes.

That said, we remain determined to regain the Department's recognition and fully acknowledge and understand the serious implications associated with the USDE's actions, which we continue to deem unwarranted and counterproductive to the interests of hundreds of thousands of students and hundreds of member institutions such as yours at which they have enrolled. We are currently pursuing legal action in federal court and continue to pursue other channels of support that may open opportunities for the reconsideration we have sought from the start; to be given the 12 months regularly afforded other accrediting agencies to demonstrate compliance with the regulations for recognition by the Department. A number of colleagues have sent us a copy of a recent article that you might find of interest and a link is provided at the bottom of this email.

Finally, there is absolutely no guarantee we will prevail in these efforts and the path forward beyond them is as complicated as it is uncertain. I can only assure you that the Council members and staff have, in my view, demonstrated a forthright and determined effort to strengthening and renewing this agency's accreditation processes and practices, and deserve a second chance to move beyond the current circumstances. The new PPPA requirements have understandably provoked fear and confusion amongst the schools and their students but to no rational end does it serve as a purposeful alternative to the serious renewal in progress for this 104 year old institution. We deserve a second chance and with enough voices (has anyone heard yours?) making the point, perhaps those chances will be significantly improved.

Sincerely,

Roger J. Williams
Interim President, ACICS
Rjwilliams@acics.org