Dr. George A. Pruitt, president of Thomas Edison State University, shared his concerns about the importance of keeping accreditation an independent, peer-reviewed process today during his testimony before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Pruitt, the only New Jersey college or university president to testify at the hearing today, told federal legislators that efforts to improve the system must not impose remedies that do more harm than the maladies they seek to cure.
“Regionally accredited institutions value their participation as members of quality assurance communities,” Pruitt said. “While reasonable federal oversight over the use of public funds is necessary, we believe that peer affirmation of quality, tested against agreed upon standards, promulgated by recognized academic authorities, has been essential in producing the finest set of academic institutions in the world.”
Pruitt also told legislators about the importance of placing appropriate metrics that are in line with the individual mission of an institution, and resisting the use of a “one-size-fits-all template” that uses misapplied data such as graduation rates.
“The traditional 18-year old, going to college full time, expecting to graduate in four years, is a shrinking piece of the higher education pie,” he said. “Accordingly, the metrics of accountability, to be of value, must reflect this new reality. There can never be the right answer to the wrong question.”
The hearing, “"Strengthening Accreditation to Better Protect Students and Taxpayers,” was held at the Rayburn House Office Building. In addition to Pruitt, additional witnesses included Dr. Mary Ellen Petrisko, president of WASC Senior College and University Commission; Ben Miller, senior director for Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress; and Dr. Michale S. McComis, executive director of the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
The committee also streamed a live webcast of the hearing.