NACIQI: Where is the Faculty?

Last week I posted an item about a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) that considered whether the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) — which accredits two-year institutions in California, Hawaii, and the Pacific islands, 95% of which are in California — meets federal regulations for a regional accrediting agency.  Attending this meeting, I was struck by a remarkable fact:  The committee consists of 18 members, but not a single member is currently teaching at a college or university!  In other words, although most people consider educational effectiveness to be a critical criterion for accreditation, actual teachers, members of the faculty, play no role at all in certifying accrediting agencies!

Currently NACIQI includes 11 current and former administrators (mostly presidents, provosts, and chancellors), 5 outside independent consultants, 1 trustee, and 1 student (a student member is required under the Higher Education Act).  [Interestingly, it also appears that not a single member of the committee has any experience at a community college, which sheds a certain light on its ability to provide meaningful advice about ACCJC.]

According to the NACIQI website,

The Committee advises the Secretary of Education on matters related to postsecondary (or higher education) accreditation and the eligibility and certification process for higher education institutions to participate in the Federal student aid programs. Its primary function is to provide recommendations to the Secretary concerning whether accrediting entities’ standards are sufficiently rigorous and effective in their application to ensure that the entity is a reliable authority regarding the quality of the education or training provided by the institutions or programs it accredits.

NACIQI is composed of 18 members with six-year membership terms.  According to statute,

individuals are appointed as NACIQI members –

  • On the basis of the individuals’ experience, integrity, impartiality, and good judgment;
  • From among individuals who are representatives of, or knowledgeable concerning, education and training beyond secondary education, representing all sectors and types of institutions of higher education (as defined in section 201 of the HEA), as well as a student representative; and
  • On the basis of the individuals’ technical qualifications, professional standing, and demonstrated knowledge in the fields of accreditation and administration in higher education.

Membership Composition

Members are appointed equally by the Secretary, House of Representatives, and the Senate as follows:

  • Secretary – six appointees with three-year initial terms, including the student member;
  • House of Representatives – six appointees by the Speaker of the House with four-year initial terms; three of whom shall be recommended by the majority leader of the House and three of whom shall be recommended by the minority leader of the House; and
  • Senate – six appointees by the President pro tempore with six-year initial terms; three of whom shall be recommended by the majority leader of the Senate and three of whom shall be recommended by the minority leader of the Senate.

Given these criteria it is nothing short of astonishing that somehow no one could identify an actual college or university teacher qualified to serve, let alone one who might adequately represent the interests and expertise of faculty generally as determined, say, by the endorsement of one or more leading faculty organizations, like, say, the AAUP.  One can only imagine the outcry if, for example, the Secretary of Defense were advised on the purchase of military aircraft by a body without a single practicing aeronautical engineer!

As I have previously argued on this blog, faculty members nationwide are growing increasingly skeptical of the credibility of accrediting bodies.  One welcome, if small, initial step to address this skepticism might be to include at least one faculty representative, perhaps nominated from a list provided by faculty organizations, among the members of NACIQI.

5 thoughts on “NACIQI: Where is the Faculty?

  1. Thank you for pointing out the lack of faculty members on NACIQI.

    However, having faculty may not make that much of a difference given that many faculty members will pander to those with power and are seeking to be administrators themselves. Many professors don’t hesitate to take grants from unsavory institutions and are more than willing to help the military industrial complex figure out strategies for fighting wars of aggression more effectively. Then you have academics employed by places such as UC Berkeley’s law school who, as a former member of the Bush regime, provided a legal justification for torture.

    What is troubling is who does the appointment of members of NACIQI, some of whose members presumably owe their position to leaders of the Democratic Party such as Nancy Pelosi and Obama’s Secretary of Education Duncan. Pelosi has done little to stop the ACCJC’s destructive actions towards City College of San Francisco, a college serving the community she supposedly represents.

    • It is certainly true that there are faculty members all too willing to pander to power, and not all of them are on the political right. That’s why my suggestion was to have the faculty appointee(s) selected from lists prepared by faculty organizations like the AAUP, the AFT or others. Hardly a perfect remedy, I’ll hasten to acknowledge, but a step forward, even if mostly symbolic.

      As for Nancy Pelosi’s role in the CCSF controversy, I beg to differ. In D.C. last week I joined CCSF faculty members organized by the AFT on Capitol Hill to lobby members of the California delegation to pressure the DoE re ACCJC. Pelosi’s office was one of the most supportive. But that’s hardly news. Here are just two citations from 2014 reporting on her support of CCSF and her criticism of ACCJC:

      You may believe these are just words, but in politics words matter. Moreover, members of Congress have little actual power in this area. Indeed, these reports suggest that Pelosi might in fact have some interest in using one of the Democratic appointment slots on NACIQI for a genuinely representative faculty member, as my original post suggests.

      • Sorry, but your links covering Pelosi’s “support” describe actions that came more than a year and a half after CCSF was first put on show cause by the ACCJC in July 2012–requiring CCSF to prove why it should remain open– and six months after the ACCJC’s closure announcement in July 2013. As far as I know, despite the damage done to CCSF by the ACCJC, Pelosi only spoke out after Rep. Jackie Speier held a forum at CCSF in the fall of 2013 condemning the ACCJC.

        Prior to that, I am unaware of any help for CCSF from Pelosi’s office. Some of us who contacted her office in the period after CCSF was placed on show cause by the ACCJC were received with much unfriendliness and a refusal to do anything such as meet with us.

        In fact, Pelosi’s inaction may have prompted a CCSF student magazine , Etc., around the end of 2013, to have a cover featuring prominent politicians including Gov. Brown, Mayor Lee, Feinstein, Boxer and Pelosi with tape covering their mouths asking the question “Who Will Speak for City?” that goes on “Political heavyweights mum on CCSF crisis”

        When Pelosi got more involved and the ACCJC suddenly concocted a new policy called restoration status in the summer of 2014 that requires CCSF to come into 100% compliance with all of its demands within two years, Pelosi’s office issued a press release commending the ACCJC for this action. From this relase:

        “I commend the ACCJC for providing a good-cause extension to City College and for upholding the rigorous academic, management and financial standards necessary for the college’s success.”

        She went on to insist that CCSF fully comply with all of the discredited ACCJC’s questionable standards.


      • This takes us pretty far from the topic of the original post (which never mentioned Nancy Pelosi) and I’d prefer not to get into an exchange about Pelosi’s pluses and minuses. Suffice it to say, however, that movements that accept support only from those who were with them at the start and who support their program 100% are not likely to succeed. That’s why those of us who went to D.C. spent a full day on the Hill visiting the offices of 18 members of the California Congressional delegation, including Pelosi, most of whom have as yet said nothing about this issue. Perhaps you believe that was a waste of time — and you might be correct — but we thought it was an important and worthwhile effort.

  2. I agree that this discussion is getting away from the topic of the original post. I only posted about Pelosi because you expressed the view that she has been supportive of CCSF.

    After offering some rhetoric critical of the ACCJC, Pelosi embraced the ACCJC’s concocted restoration status policy. It requires CCSF, unlike many other community colleges, to come into complete compliance with all of the ACCJC’s problematic accreditation standards, or lose its accreditation.

    The actions of the ACCJC towards CCSF led to a sudden changing of the rules to allow a questionable and undemocratic state takeover of CCSF in 2013. This, in turn, led to the imposition of an administration at CCSF of outsiders. They have overseen the further downsizing of CCSF. This imposed administration has recently announced plans, in the years to come, to cut 26% of the classes offered at CCSF. This will result in the loss of an estimated 350 faculty jobs and fewer educational opportunities for students.

    At the same time, there are strong indications that property held by a downsized CCSF will be turned over to “developers” and businesses.

    While the further erosion of CCSF has occurred, I know of nothing that Pelosi has done to help CCSF.

    Let’s hope she uses her power in a way that positively serves the needs of students, staff, faculty and the Bay Area community. My numerous efforts on behalf of a committee to which I belong at contacting her office requesting her help have thus far been fruitless.

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