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June 15, 2024

College of DuPage – Accreditation Agency Scrutiny – Good or Bad for COD?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On November 6, 2015

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –
Is it possible the College of DuPage accreditation issues will face tougher scrutiny due to demands coming out of the White House and Department of Education?
The Higher Learning commission, in a letter dated October 21st, 2015, advised COD on there request for additional time to respond.  The HLC stated, “the Commission’s Board of Trustees will not be able to act on the report at its November Board meeting. The Board will determine at that meeting when it will review and act on this case. The Board may review the case at its next scheduled meeting in February 2016 or the Board may choose to call a meeting via conference call to take this action.”
Is it possible that extension request will make things even tougher on COD due to a push from the White House and members of Congress to reign in the accreditation agencies for basically not doing their job?  The action being taken in the executive orders are outlined in this file posted moments ago on the US Department of Education web site. (Executive Action Fact Sheet) or you can go directly to the US Department of Education web site and see a laundry list of issues related to the Accreditation concerns under the banner, “Whats New”
“For the most part, accreditation organizations are watchdogs that don’t bite,”  (Financial Aid Gatekeepers may be getting new gates of their own)
“Officials on Friday unveiled a package of “executive actions” aimed at cracking down on college accreditors, which the administration argues are not holding colleges to high enough standards when it comes to evaluating the success of students.” (Inside Higher Ed)

Are today’s actions a move by the White House administration to circumvent prohibitions of defining or setting standards of student achievement through pressure on Accreditation agencies?  Speaking with numerous teachers, it appears they are all against a student achievement based criteria, as is US Senator Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
“It’s not a good idea to repeal the law prohibiting the secretary from defining student achievement at America’s colleges and universities.” (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
This push from the Administration may make COD’s accreditation matter a bigger problem, depending on the language in the Executive Orders said to have been signed today.
We will update when more information is released from the White House and US Department of Education.


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1 Comment
  • Keith Yearman
    Posted at 07:19h, 08 November Reply

    Here’s a copy of comments I made before the Board of Trustees on November 5, 2015:
    The Higher Learning Commission’s scathing report on this college pointed fingers in many directions. Yet the HLC should have also pointed fingers at itself as relates to COD. HLC Vice President Barbara Johnson has sat as COD’s liaison since at least 2007 – yet under her watch, complaint materials have disappeared, complaints were ignored, and the HLC made outrageous appointments of reviewers for this institution.
    This must change.
    What did the HLC know and when did they know it?
    Let’s turn back to April 27, 2007. The HLC sent two reviewers to COD for a quality checkup. Page 18 of their report notes, “At the Open Forum during the Quality Checkup Visit, a student submitted a packet of materials concerning COD’s operations. The Team reviewed the materials and forwarded them to the Higher Learning Commission. The Commission will follow its complaint process in investigating the issue.”
    Several people asked HLC about this. We were told both packets of materials had been lost. Yes, there were actually two identical packets, and both were lost. The then-student even wrote, “I still have the voicemail from the guy saying he lost my paperwork.” What was in that paperwork? According to the then-student, issues relating to the foundation board, contracting, appointments – all the things so newsworthy these days. Maybe if HLC had done its job back then…
    The 2014 HLC quality checkup noted some faculty discussed “an atmosphere of intimidation and fear presented by some senior management,” a “lack of co-governance,” and that senior management were aware of a “small group of faculty who were disgruntled.” So the reviewers ignored all the warnings and criticisms, dismissing the outspoken ones as malcontents, not whistleblowers.
    This year, HLC was publicly shamed and contradicted for glowing 2014 accreditation report. Apparently HLC likes to avoid the front page of the Tribune. So to “act tough” and investigate issues here, the HLC announced a three-person review team. To investigate issues with our president, who had just suffered a no-confidence vote and a series of spending scandals, the Higher Learning Commission appointed as a reviewer a Michigan college president who had his own spending scandal, and two votes of no confidence by two separate unions. After more public humiliation, including front-page Tribune stories, the HLC replaced that team member.
    HLC seems to have a long track record of burying issues at COD. While federal prosecutor Erika Csicsila continues looking at issues on campus, I’d like to encourage her to take a look at the Higher Learning Commission, what they knew and when, and why they refused to act. And I encourage this board to demand a new liaison at HLC; current HLC Vice President Barbara Johnson seemingly turned a blind eye for years.

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