Quote of the Day

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Punting Accreditation

Once again, GW has punted on accreditation. The school had previously said it would know if its attempt at accreditation with the AALE was successful by Spring 2009. Andrew Groft has now indefinitely suspended that promise, while affirming that the school still wants to be accredited.

It was a full nine months ago (August 28, 2008) that The St. George Spectrum quoted Shanon Brooks as saying the school "is in the last stage of the accreditation process."

Then in January, we posted an update detailing how the ball was in GW's court and the school was basically doing nothing. Groft confirms this when he says "our faculty and staff have had to divert time and attention away from accreditation during these past six months."

So much for those students who took the school at its word. Accreditation is obviously not a priority for the school. If administrators had been more transparent about its interminable on-and-off flirtation with accreditation, these students may have been able to learn from history: DeMille and the school have been saying accreditation was around the corner ever since 1999, but have yet to come through on the promises.


Edward Dulmin said...

Thank you for the update. I am sure that there are many both outside and certainly within GWU that are interested to see the issue of accreditation come to an end.

You commented, "So much for those students who took the school at its word." I think it ought to be better established exactly what that "word" is. What is it that GWU tells their students about their accreditation status and how this affects them? Have promises been made about GWU becoming accredited by a certain date? (Not just finishing the process by a certain date, but actually receiving accreditation?) Are potential students being falsely told that the school will soon be accredited and that they will be receiving recognized and transferable credit for their efforts?

The Real George Wythe said...

Thanks for the comment! You mentioned "it ought to be better established exactly what that 'word' is." (As in when did the school give its word on accreditation.)

Here are some quick excerpts from sources through the years.

"George Wythe College's intermediate and long-term goals...include: 2002 Accreditation target." (Oliver DeMille, The Statesman, December 1999)

In October 2004, Shanon Brooks and Scott Wilson gave a seminar at the Alumni & Friends Gala entitled "Accreditation and the New Campus." (See The Statesman, October 2004)

"We had projected a total accreditation cost of $38,000, and as we did not have the budget for these expenses we turned to the GWC Development Steering Committee for help. [The Committee] raised $40,000." (Shanon Brooks, The Statesman, March 2007)

"We are continuing our work toward accreditation, having completed an initial site visit by the accrediting agency’s Director of Accreditation in March." (Oliver DeMille, The Statesman, November 2007)

"Our final site visit is scheduled for September 2008 at which time the site team will submit their report and recommendation to the Academy. ... We anticipate a decision would be announced by the board in the Spring of 2009. The most likely results of that board meeting would be either that George Wythe is granted preaccreditation status or that the board return with a number of specific recommendations for us to follow prior to being preaccredited." Gary Arnell goes on to explain that preaccreditation is akin to accreditation (See "An Update on Accreditation" in the school's April 2008 newsletter)

The "word" is that the school was serious enough about accreditation to see it through.

An example is the school's methodology summary, "The Mentor Syllabus ... [which] is not yet detailed enough to meet the site visit team's criteria." As this is a summary of what the school is already doing, what is standing in the way of completing the document? Why not set up a Wiki and invite collaboration among the faculty?

Another problem, that of the school not using proper GAAP in its accounting, is a very unfortunate mistake on the school's part. It wouldn't take much research for the school's accountants to grasp the correct standards.

Finally, the lack of an endowment may be an insurmountable obstacle. Even if all the other points are remedied, this issue alone could prevent accreditation. It doesn't appear the school has fully come to terms with this fact. Raising an endowment isn't the same as expanding on a methodology summary. Unless you have a sudden onslaught of donors, it cannot be done in a short period of time. Thus, the school's optimism may be naive at best, and at worst, dishonest.

As an aside, the school may be wise to sell its land in Monticello as a seed toward a solid endowment.

Anonymous said...

Selling their land in Monticello may be a very attractive option. They have already missed at least one payment on their leased property in Monticello and, from what I gather, have been avoiding the lease-holder who has tried to contact them to find out what is happening and to work something out with them.

R.C. said...

One unfortunate aspect of this entire accreditation fiasco is that the AALE does not offer accreditation for graduate programs. Even if GWU gets accreditation, it is not for their Master's or Doctorate programs. In addition, any degree earned prior to accreditation is not eligible for retroactive accreditation.

I do not accuse anyone of academic dishonesty, but you have to wonder what GWC will do with the hundreds of individuals to whom degrees are awareded... Will they print off new diplomas after accreditation? Will people lie to employers (i.e., when asked if their degree is accredited, they can say that the school is accredited without mentioning the degree).

Hopefully, this blog will help get the message out.

James F. said...

I totally agree R.C--without accusing GWU of academic dishonesty, I too wonder whether people will lie to their employers as a result of accreditation. In fact it's probably another one of their "simulations".
The year is 2012. You have just graduated from GWU and are in search of a job. The unemployment rate is up and we're all getting pretty desperate so you must lie about your degree being accredited. And for good measure you must also lie about having an additional degree. And lots of work experience. So much in fact that you were awarded a doctorate from GWU in addition to your two degrees just for having all that experience.
Note: GWU will provide fake diplomas to use during this simulation. They are yours to keep.

R.C. said...

James - yes 2012. However, all they have to do is answer in a roundabout way. If people convince themselves that "accreditation" can mean many things (like Oliver who claims his PhD has "religious accreditation" - whatever that is) they can answer truthfully. Sure, my degree has TJED accreditation. Why doesn't Demille just have a TJED accreditation process? Then all of GW's degrees could be accredited, just not regionally or by the evil federal govt dept of education.

James F. said...

So what you are saying is that they already can lie? Without even being accredited GWU graduates can lie about their credentials?? Now I don't even know what to think.

Really, why would anyone go to a University that isn't accredited? I mean unless you go into it expecting that you are going to have to lie afterwards. And obviously DeMille doesn't understand this. He thinks that if you study really hard that you have somehow accomplished something and deserve some sort of badge recognizing that your study and experience was legitimate. But it's not.

We've been doing education in America for a while now--I'm pretty sure that the folks that provide accreditation know a thing or two about what it really means to be educated. We've really darned near perfected the process here in the US. And for Demille to start doing his own thing, promoting this bazaar system with some fairly pointless stuff like studying from so called "classics" instead of our refined textbooks? Or "mentoring"?? I mean come on, that just sounds creepy. We have teachers. They educate our children--there is a reason we do it this way. A mentor is just going to teach them to think the way they think. And then for him to have the gall to say that there is something wrong with our system as though his is so much better??

R.C. said...

Well, DeMille can lie - he does so here: "I deliberately left a fully-accredited university, BYU, where my costs were entirely paid by a full academic scholarship, and instead engaged a mentor and an unconventional school with only religious accreditation." (source: http://www.tjedonline.com/olivers-update.php?id=6).

Coral Ridge Baptist University was not accredited. Read the Diploma DeMille article on this blog. Richard Stout has done some excellent research and investigation of this. DeMille knows he is in hot water over the accreditation thing, otherwise, he wouldn't have claimed "religious accreditation".

I think TJEDERS can lie just as easily as DeMille. People generally assume good faith, and when somebody lists "PhD" or "Dr." around their name, we assume that they are legit. My point in my previous post was that the TjEd should start accrediting programs then they could say that their degrees are accredited. I don't want to give them any ideas...well, then again, they probably already thought of that..

R.C. said...

Also, if the school receives accreditation (which is doubtful), what is to stop them from allowing former students to re-apply, and accepting their previously earned credits, and granting them a shiny new accredited degree. . . There has to be something wrong with that...right?

James F. said...

Once again, I agree RC--what is to stop "TJEDERS" from lying? I mean really, people that are so interested in "unconventional" education are also most likely chronic liars.

Case in point with this whole "religious accreditation" thing. This is something that also bothers me with the LDS Church and their seminary and institute programs. It is a similar system in which one can "graduate" and receive a diploma if you meet their standards. However these standards are completely untested and unrecognized by any legitimate accreditation organization. What's worse is that much of the grading is based on the student's own assessment! And graduates of these programs have been known to list having graduated from seminary or institute on job resumes! It's really outrageous. I mean employers that don't know better will see this listed on a resume and may pick one applicant over another because they have graduated from a "religiously accredited" program. Now don't get me wrong, these students aren't claiming doctorates of course so it certainly isn't as extreme of a case as DeMille, but where do we draw the line?

And as you point out RC, what is to stop GWU from granting accredited degrees to former students? Or how about this, what is to stop them from offering a new degree based on some quasi religious fanaticism in which students will sacrifice chickens and practice other "religious" rites? I mean they could have an accredited degree based on this. What's to stop them? Heavens, if they received accreditation they could use their newly legitimized image as a front to a heavily armed militia aiming to overtake the government. I mean really, these people have been practicing how to rebuild the government--if the government doesn't fall apart like they are predicting, what is to stop them from trying to take it down on their own?

Anonymous said...

You guys have not clue what it takes to get accredited. GWU has been through the whole process, the only thing holding back the final step is this recession that is hitting every industry. Accreditation is all about money folks. I'm sure all the money plans you made in 2006 have turned out exactly as you thought they would by 2009, right? They have not "lied" because the market took a turn anymore than you all lied by projecting your own portfolios 2 years ago. Go into the school and look at the report by AALE for yourself and see how impressed they were with the school and the programs.

The Real George Wythe said...

"GWU has been through the whole process, the only thing holding back the final step is this recession that is hitting every industry."

I'm not sure you understand exactly where the school is, accreditation-wise. Based on Groft's article, it appears they still have to (1) crystallize their methodology in a handbook, something they haven't found time to do; (2) revamp their accounting methods to align with generally accepted accounting principals for non-profits, including restating past years' results, something that will take considerable time; and (3) establish an endowment. Who knows what else there is to do, but it appears the notion that "the only thing holding back the final step is this recession that is hitting every industry" is false.

Keep in mind that education -- quality education that actually pays off in real peoples' real lives -- tends to be countercyclical. Therefore, a downturn like this should be a boon to GW. That it is not is very telling.

CrouchingOwl said...

If commenting is allowed on posts this old, I attended on campus classes within a few years after Sept 11 and what the going word on campus was was that the school had all their donors lined up for the endowment to be completed in the full amount but that they all turned skittish after the Sept 11th attacks and refused to meet their pledges. Now looking back on them saying that I wonder which of the staff were living in a fantasy world. Or if we all were. Later on various faculty admitted they hadn't been actually trying to fund raise previously since they were still trying to work out the curriculum or some such. It's been a long time since I discussed it with people, but if I recall that was the basic idea. Accreditation was always sold as just around the corner or talked about as if it wouldn't matter if the school became accredited because it would just mess everything up with people coming to the school for the wrong reasons. Later they talked about accreditation being a goal they would try to meet before going for a full campus. Then they went and put up the money for the new campus. Still they aren't accredited, but ever since they actually paid the money for the accreditation fee (or at least they told us they did that) things seem to be much more serious about doing something about it.

Oh yeah, and I won't say how much of a surprise it was to me that they hadn't even applied for accreditation until whenever it was because they were always talking as if it was a process they were a long way into or something.