An exerpt from the testimony of Dr. Daniel Phelan, president, Jackson College:
Good morning, Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Alexander and Members of the Committee. My name is Dr. Dan Phelan and I am president of Jackson College in Jackson, Michigan. Located about 80 miles west of Detroit, Jackson College educates more than 8,000 credit and 2,000 non-credit students annually in a tri-county service area. Jackson College is institutionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the largest of the six regional accrediting bodies. I have worked closely with the Higher Learning Commission over the years, serving as a Consultant-Evaluator for the Commission, with prior tenures on its Institutional Actions Committee and a number of other ad hoc committees. Jackson College participates in the Commission’s alternative accreditation program, known as AQIP or the Academic Quality Improvement Project. AQIP is based upon the Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award criteria, which uses a 7-year review cycle coupled with annual reporting. Jackson College also has a number of supplemental program accreditations, primarily in the career areas.
I am pleased to be here today to present my own views as well as those of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). AACC represents the nation’s more than 1,100 community, junior and technical colleges.
Without question, higher education is undergoing remarkable and rapid change. This change is born of new developments in technology, changes in funding, global competition, and rising expectations for accountability from parents, students, employers, and government agencies. Accreditation is no exception to this changed reality. Expressions of concern about quality in higher education, confusion over the accreditation process itself, anxiety about student outcomes, and calls for increased transparency have all led to suggestions that accreditation is broken. Yet we believe these critics are wrong. Permit me a few moments to discuss accreditation, its current context, and where it may be headed.
Read the full testimony here.