Middle States Commission on Higher Education



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Hilton Philadelphia at Penn's Landing
August 28-30, 2017



Welcome to the Retreat

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education takes great pleasure in welcoming you to our region and to Philadelphia. We look forward to hosting and will do our best to make your visit a memorable one.

During these challenging and unsettled times, it is critically important for us to take time to stop, step back, and reflect upon both our role as accreditors and the role of regional accreditation in guiding and supporting our institutions as they create pathways for student success.

When each of us registered for this retreat, we were invited to reply to several open-ended questions, one of which was "what are your hopes and goals for this retreat?" As you can see from the word cloud below, share, learn, ideas, collaboration, and connect resonated with all of us. So let's commit to achieving these goals during the 2017 C-RAC Retreat.

Beth Sibolski, MSCHE President

Agency Presidents
Dr. Barbara E. Brittingham, President, New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
Dr. Sandra E. Elman, President, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Dr. Barbara Gellman-Danley
, President, The Higher Learning Commission
Dr. Mary Ellen Petrisko, President, WASC Senior College and University Commission
Dr. Elizabeth H. Sibolski, President, Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Dr. Belle Wheelan, President, Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges

Dr. Richard Winn, President, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges


The Program

Monday, August 28, 2017

7:30am - 4:00pm
Presidents' Meeting (USS New Jersey)

3:00pm - 7:00pm
Retreat Registration and Sign-up for the Optional Tuesday-Evening Group Dinners (Columbus Ballroom Foyer)
We have made reservations at several local restaurants. Sign-up sheets will be available at the Registration Desk Monday when you register. Feel free to sign up or venture forth on your own -- hopefully with some new friends!

3:30pm - 5:00pm
Orientation Session for New Staff (Discovery AB)
If you are new to this facet of the work of regional accreditation, join other new staff for an overview and opportunity to meet and discuss.

6:30pm - 7:15pm
Welcome Reception (Columbus Ballroom Foyer)

7:15pm - 9:00pm
Opening Dinner and General Session - Panel of C-RAC Presidents (Columbus Ballroom)
The Presidents will discuss several of the questions posed by attendees concerning the biggest challenges facing accreditation today.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

7:30am - 8:45am
Breakfast (Columbus Ballroom BC)
Opportunities for roundtable discussions will be available.

9:00am - 10:30am
General Session - Terry Hartle (Columbus Ballroom BC)
Terry will provide observations on the latest developments affecting higher education.

11:00am - 12:15pm   Breakout Sessions

Preparing for NACIQI (Columbus A)
Stephanie Droker (ACCJC), Mary Beth Kait (MSCHE), Karen Solinski (HLC)
Members of the panel will provide information on the recognition review process, including their experiences and interaction with the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI).

Training Peer Evaluators: Content, Delivery, and Evaluation (Discovery AB)
Alexie Matveev (SACSCOC), Jamie Stanesa (HLC), Erika Swain (MSCHE)
With changing processes, standards, and technology, it has become increasingly more important to look to changing content, delivery, and the evaluation of our training programs. This session will present key statistics regarding our evaluator pool to present the scope of the training task; and provide a general overview of what our Commissions are doing in terms of evaluator training content, delivery, and evaluation. We will then turn to the future and lead the audience in a discussion about further improvements and the resources needed to achieve those goals.

How Commissions Work: Commission Focus, Current Focus, and Committee Structure (Discovery C)
Crystal Baird (SACSCOC), Eric Martin (HLC), Pat O’Brien (NEASC)
This session will provide an overview of the current foci and priorities of HLC, NEASC, and SACSCOC, along with brief coverage of the committee structures that are critical to effecting change. Audience interaction is encouraged to include highlighting priorities of other C-RAC members. Beyond sharing our respective priorities, a central goal of this session is to generate new possibilities to take home and to identify points of possible intersection for mutual benefit across Commissions.

12:30pm - 1:45pm
Lunch and General Session - Herman Bounds (Columbus Ballroom BC)
Herman will provide updates from the U.S. Department of Education.

2:00pm - 3:15pm       Breakout Sessions

Advances in Information Systems and Data Analysis (Columbus A)
Patrick Esmonde (MSCHE), Henry Hernandez (WSCUC), Godfrey Fuji Noe (SACSCOC)
This session will focus on the data, procedures, and analysis of the information collected throughout the accreditation process.  This will be a tech-focused discussion on the tools and technology used to manage internal and external systems.  Bring your best lessons and tips from the field to share with your fellow data/IT peers.

What ACICS Taught Us: Working with National, Programmatic, and "State" Accreditors (Discovery AB)
Donna Barrett (SACSCOC), Dick Osborn (WSCUC)
With the demise of ACICS as an approved national accreditation agency with the loss of Title IV for students expected in June 2018, pressure has been placed on regional accrediting agencies to grant accreditation to these institutions with some not typically meeting the Standards of regional accreditation. In addition, greater pressure by the U.S. Department of Education has been placed on state agencies to create more robust oversight procedures for institutions offering degrees. The relationship between the role of programmatic accreditors and regional accreditation has also come into play. In the middle of this interplay, critics of regional accreditation charge that innovation in higher education has been thwarted by more traditionally oriented regional accreditation agencies. The presenters from SACSOC and WSCUC who have been in the forefront of these issues will present ways in which their agencies have dealt with these challenges to the processes used for institutions to achieve accreditation with an invitation to attendees to present the perspectives of each of their agencies.

How Staff Work: Agency Organization and Roles (Discovery C)

Paula Harbecke (NEASC), Andrea Lex (MSCHE), Andrew Lootens-White (HLC)
In this session, representatives from three agencies – differing in size and geography -- will provide brief “big picture” overviews of each, including information about staff organization, institutional membership, and peer corps composition.  After this foundation is established, presenters will discuss the roles involved in several processes such as how institutions and peer reviewers interact with staff and prepare their evaluation materials, how the creation of notification/action letters occurs, how the agencies communicate with members, and how staff are involved in the offering of agency events and services.  The goal of the session will be to provide an understanding of the factors that guide our work in the different regions as we look for ways throughout the retreat to interact and collaborate.

3:30pm - 5:00pm       Breakout Sessions

Preserving Peer Evaluation: Combatting the Challenges (Columbus A)
Mike Hoefer (SACSCOC), Erin Mattson (MSCHE), Jamie Stanesa (HLC)
As the landscape of regional accreditation evolves, what challenges face accreditors throughout the peer review process? In this session, we will explore a brief history of peer evaluation and then discuss the obstacles faced by different regional accreditors. Each panelist will identify unique internal and external challenges and explain how their organizations are responding to these challenges while improving the overall peer evaluation process.

Determining Compliance (Discovery AB)
Barbara Gross Davis (WSCUC), Pat Donat (SACSCOC), Anthea Sweeney (HLC)
This session will compare the methods used by three regional accrediting agencies (HLC, SACSCOC and WSCUC) to determine institutional compliance with their respective standards in the context of candidacy, initial accreditation and reaffirmation evaluations, while examining the various decisions that apply based on the determinations made. Audience members representing other regional accreditors will be encouraged to offer their own practices in these contexts as well. The major goal of the session will be to explore how regional accreditors, regardless of variations in their methods of determining compliance, can best support the application of professional judgment in the peer review process while optimizing the integrity and consistency of reviews.

Taming Subchange (Discovery C)

Pamela Goad (NWCCU), John Hausaman, (WSCUC), Pat Newton-Curran (HLC), Heather Perfetti (MSCHE), Kevin Sightler (SACSCOC)
Representatives will share specific processes used by their agency.  The session is designed to provide participants an opportunity to compare and contrast the various methods and processes used for substantive change.

6:30pm - 8:00pm Dinner
If you signed up on Monday for a pre-planned reservation, meet in the lobby by 6:30pm. If you did not, feel free to explore the city's many culinary delights with both old and new friends.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

7:30am - 8:30am
Breakfast (Columbus Ballroom BC)
Opportunities for roundtable discussions will be available.

9:00am - 10:15am    Breakout Sessions

"Student Success" Defined: How is it more than numbers? (Columbus A)
Maureen Maloney (WSCUC), Allen Richman (MSCHE), Steve Sheeley (SACSCOC)
The demand for information regarding “student success” as a return on the individual’s investment is loud and persistent. Institutions and accreditors are increasingly called upon to defend the value of higher education. The value is clearly “student success" but that's simply a generic label for a wide array of metrics and data. If we accept these statements then we can extrapolate the real question which is, what metric, data, or other information would best demonstrate student success and thus, the value of higher education. The goal of this session is to engage in a discussion regarding the definitions and strategies for understanding, reporting, and reviewing student success

Creating and Implementing New Standards: Challenges and Lessons (Discovery AB)
Carol Anderson (NEASC), Ellie Fogarty (MSCHE)
This session explores the development and implementation of new Standards by two C-RAC organizations, New England and Middle States. After providing an overview of the process of creating and implementing the Standards, speakers will discuss the challenges faced and lessons learned by each agency. There will be time for questions and discussion.

Taming Subchange (Discovery C)

Pamela Goad (NWCCU), John Hausaman, (WSCUC), Pat Newton-Curran (HLC), Heather Perfetti (MSCHE), Kevin Sightler (SACSCOC)
Representatives will share specific processes used by their agency.  The session is designed to provide participants an opportunity to compare and contrast the various methods and processes used for substantive change.

10:30am - 12:00pm
General Session - (Columbus Ballroom BC)

Stephanie Brzuzy (HLC), Patricia O’Brien (NEASC), Allen Richman (MSCHE)
Results of the C-RAC Graduation Survey This portion of the session will focus on the information recently collected from institutions with low graduation rates. These data include the context of these graduation rates and actions the institutions are taking to try to improve. Recent data collected by HLC, MSCHE, and NEASC will be discussed.

Barbara Brittingham (NEASC), Barbara Gellman-Danley (HLC)
Current and Future Collaborations and Challenges
The immediate-past and current chair of C-RAC will discuss opportunities and challenges.

Box Lunch/Retreat End (Columbus Ballroom BC)

Safe Travels!

General Session Bios

Terry W. Hartle

Terry W. Hartle is a Senior Vice President at the American Council on Education, (ACE). In this capacity he directs comprehensive efforts to engage federal policymakers on a broad range of issues including student aid, government regulation, scientific research and tax policy.

In addition, Hartle plays a central role in developing public policy positions that impact all colleges and universities, and also oversees the Council’s external relations functions.

Prior to joining the council in 1993, Hartle served for six years as education staff director for the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, then chaired by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Prior to 1987, Hartle was director of social policy studies and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a research scientist at the Educational Testing Service. Hartle has authored or co-authored numerous articles, books, and national studies and contributes regular book reviews to The Christian Science Monitor.

Hartle received a doctorate in public policy from The George Washington University (DC), a master’s in public administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University (NY) and a bachelor’s degree in history (summa cum laude) from Hiram College (OH). He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by Northeastern University (MA). He has received the Hiram College Alumni Achievement Award, and has been inducted into the Hiram College Athletic Hall of Fame. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Herman Bounds

Herman Bounds is the Director of the Accreditation Group within the USDE Office of Postsecondary Education. He assumed that position in April 2014 after spending two years as an Education Program Specialist in the Accreditation Group. Previously, Herman was the Deputy Director at the Aviation Career Campus of Metro Technology Centers, a career and technical education school in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. While serving as the deputy director, Herman played a major role in developing a workforce development project which provided Tinker Air Force Base with approximately 1,500 credentialed aviation maintenance technicians. Herman served as a consultant for a Federal Aviation Administration study, Psychological Study of Aircraft Accidents. In addition, Herman is a U.S. Army veteran with 20 years of service.

Participant Responses to Open-Ended Questions

What are your goals for and/or what do you hope to take away from this retreat? Click HERE.
What do you believe to be the biggest challenge facing accreditation today?
Click HERE.
What part of your work do you enjoy the most?
Click HERE.
What part of your work do you not enjoy?
Click HERE.
Fun fact about you. Click HERE.
Favorite vacation spot. Click HERE.


Breakout Materials

Breakout materials will be available after the retreat.

Retreat Planning Committee

Stephanie Droker, ACCJC
Paula Harbecke, NEASC
Mary Kirk, SACSCOC
Andrea Lex, MSCHE
Andrew Lootens-White, HLC
Valerie Martinez, NWCCU
Christopher Oberg, WSCUC

Local Arrangements
Victoria Clark, Assistant Director for Conferences & Educational Programs, MSCHE
KJ Fitzpatrick, Director for Conferences & Educational Programs, MSCHE
Richard Pokrass, Director for Communications & Public Relations, MSCHE


Philadelphia Skyline · Photo by Bob Krist - Courtesy of Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-2680
Telephone: (267) 284-5000