September 16, 2020
On Tuesday I sat in on a webinar hosted by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), which is our accreditor. The audience for the webinar was college presidents and provosts, so I was there as the equivalent of a provost. (Brookdale doesn’t use that title.) The purpose of the webinar seemed mostly to bring us up-to-date on some pretty dramatic changes that have occurred over the last year.
Some of them were obvious, like a move to virtual visits made necessary by COVID. Fair enough. Some were relatively detail-y and inside baseball. But a couple of them struck me as worthy of more public notice.
The first, which astute readers will already have noticed, is that it no longer refers to itself as a “regional” accreditor. It’s now an “institutional” accreditor. The change came in the wake of the Department of Education repealing the regional monopoly rules in 2019, allowing accreditors to cross into each other’s territory and compete. That move collapsed the distinction between national and regional accreditors. Historically, regional accreditors were considered the best, with national ones considered somewhat suspect. Many (though not all) for-profit colleges and universities worked with national accreditors, largely due to their perceived leniency.
As I mentioned in this space last year, that’s a seemingly small change that portends a much larger change.