New Report, Webinar Explain Role of Trustees in Accreditation Process

April 2, 2018

Experts recommend trustees serve a central role in the process and stay informed about institutional and programmatic accreditation to ensure quality and student success.

The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), with support from Lumina Foundation, today issued a new report and webinar that detail the process of accreditation and community college trustees’ roles in the practice. Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) President Judith S. Eaton authored the report. The webinar also features insights from Debra Humphreys, vice president of strategic engagement for Lumina Foundation; Belle Wheelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; and Richard Winn, president of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. 

ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown, who hosts the webinar, said that “Governing boards hold institutions in trust and define the mission and values of their institutions. Understanding what accreditation is, how the process functions, and what it means for their college is necessary for a board to govern its institution effectively.”

Accreditation and Community College Trustees is an essential toolkit for new and experienced trustees alike, to assure and improve academic quality in higher education. Major takeaways from the report and webinar include:

  • Accredited status is essential for colleges to establish legitimacy with the public. Accredited status is a signal of an institution’s basic soundness; is a gatekeeping function to be eligible for public funds including federal Title IV assistance; necessary for student mobility; and sustains public confidence in a college. 
  • Trustees have an important role in each stage of the accreditation process—for both institutional and programmatic accreditation. Trustees play an important part in informing and reviewing essential documents for the self-study, engaging the peer review team, meeting with the accrediting commission, and working with the president to assure accreditation recommendations are addressed by the college.
  • Accreditation can strengthen institutional accountability and innovation. In today’s policy landscape, governing boards are called upon to be accountable for student success and implement new practices to meet the needs of today’s students who face many demands outside of the classroom and rely on attaining their degree for career mobility. Trustees play an important role in this conversation to ensure that demands are realistic considering a college’s resources while also striving for student success.

ACCT expects this report and webinar to serve as a foundation upon which to continue the discussion about trustees’ roles in accreditation and how the process can be most applicable and effective in today’s higher education landscape—ultimately to ensure students receive a quality education and are prepared to pursue a career of their choice and lifelong learning opportunities. 

The report and webinar also include resources to learn more about the six regional higher education accrediting bodies and their specific processes and standards. 


About ACCT
The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) is a non-profit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern over 1,200 community, technical, and junior colleges in the United States and beyond. For more information, go to Follow ACCT on Twitter @CCTrustees.
About CHEA
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), is the largest institutional higher education membership organization in the United States. The organization serves as a national advocate and institutional voice for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation. CHEA is an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognized 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations. For more information about CHEA, visit
About Lumina Foundation
Lumina Foundation is the nation’s largest foundation focused solely on increasing Americans’ success in higher education. For more information about Lumina, visit Follow Lumina on Twitter @LuminaFound.