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The Council on Chiropractic Education, which recently revoked the accreditation status of Life University, has responded to charges that their decision was unfair.
What is CCE, and what should the profession expect it to do?
Lately, the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) has experienced something different -- being in the limelight. We understand why our organizational development and recent accreditation actions have stirred interest and possibly enabled some confusion, but we are saddened that purposeful misinformation from some sources may have created false perceptions that CCE is a small group of controlling individuals with a political agenda. Nothing could be further from the truth, for CCE is just the opposite. The best interests of the profession and acceditation demand that you in the field be informed with facts and that you understand our role as an accrediting body. Although we cannot possibly tell you everything about CCE in this short message, we want to be sure that you have important core knowledge, and that you can get more information if you want it.
First, the basics. CCE and its Commission on Accreditation (COA) are made up of doctors of chiropractic arid other professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to help assure quality and effectiveness in chiropractic education. CCE primarily serves students and the public, so we have effectively distanced this organization from chiropractic "politics'.
CCE consists of two separate components, each having distinctly different roles. The 13-member Board of Directors comprises chiropractic practitioners, chiropractic educators and professionals representing the public. The members represent a broad range of interests and points of view. For example, the five educators work at five different chiropractic programs - Logan, Cleveland K C, New York, Palmer and National. The four chiropractic practitioners on the Board are graduates of Lincoln, Los Angeles, New York and Palmer. The two college presidents on the Board work at Life West and Los Angeles. The two public members are a retired university professor of engineering and an attorney with chiropractic experience. That is diversity!
CCE Board members are nominated through open processes and elected for set terms, with term limits. The major responsibility of the Board is to approve the CCE Standards, stating the minimum requirements and processes for CCE accreditation. The Board also is responsible for the CCE Bylaws and policies.
The Commission on Accreditation (COA) is elected by the Board and has full and independent responsibility to carry out all accreditation activities. The COA interprets the Standards, evaluates program compliance with CCE requirements, and decides on accreditation. Those tasks are rather complex, and take a lot of time and work by these volunteers. The 11 member COA is made up of five chiropractic educators from Bridgeport, Palmer West, Sherman, Texas, and Western States, and four chiropractic practitioners who are graduates of Cleveland LA, Logan, National, and Palmer. The two public members hold other doctoral degrees. One is very experienced in higher education and regional accreditation and one is a psychologist teaching in a medical school. The diversity of membership on the Board and COA enables a balanced approach to all CCE/COA endeavors.
But, what about the "political Let's look at the history. Just seven years ago CCE had devolved to internal political turmoil, and some of its accreditation decisions were being seriously questioned by important entities in the profession. At that time, the Board was made up of 25 persons, which included all 16 CEOs of accredited programs/institutions (the majority voting power). The Board also included all members of the COA, several of whom were actually appointed by external professional or regulatory associations. Thus, the college presidents could exert control over the very CCE requirements by which th* colleges were to be evaluated, and the decisions of the COA could be strongly influenced by individuals appointed to represent special interests in the profession. And, they were all members of the Board. Political dynamite!
Fortunately, subsequent CCE leaders grasped the problems and CCE gradually corrected them. The COA needed to function as an entity completely separate and independent from the Board, and CCE needed to remove ft appointees from outside interest groups so that COA deliberations and decisions could be free from any taint of political influence. CCE also needed to end the conflict of interest where the college presidents could control Board actions.
Through an evolving process mostly completed by January 1999, CCE made the Board and the COA completely separate entities, removed all special interest representation from the COA and reduced the number of college presidents on the Board to just two. Those improvements moved CCE away from the political environment and created a sound and credible foundation for the future.
Some have attempted to paint a false Image that CCE is not now properly incorporated or is not functioning according to its articles of incorporation. Simply not true! CCE is legally incorporated in Arizona, is functioning according to those articles, and all Bylaws revisions have been made openly and with due action by the responsible body. Yes, a small number of individuals still complain about their loss of political control, but CCE has moved past such pettiness to place itself where an effective and credible educational accrediting body must be - above and beyond the politics of the profession.
The CCE Board perpetuates its diverse and non-political makeup through its broad--based nomination process. In doing this, the Board reaches out to virtually every entity in chiropractic -- including all state professional associations and all U.S. chiropractic licensing bodies -- and does the same outreach to seek suggestions and comment on the content of the CCE Standards before it takes any actions on those requirements. One claimed offense is the false line that CCE is now trying to change the foundation of chiropractic with its Standards by forcing programs to train graduates in primary care. In fact, the need for training in primary care has been noted in the CCE Standards for many yearn.
The COA, also with diverse and non-political makeup, has matured into a properly rigorous body that examines thoroughly, thinks deeply and makes well-considered decisions about accreditation. There has been much attention to a recent COA decision not to re-accredit a well-known program, the cause for much of the current limelight. CCE and its COA have been accused of "dealing a blow to the profession' and other dastardly deeds.
What everyone should know, and what sometimes seems lost in all of the consternation and political rhetoric, is that the COA was doing the proper work of an effective accrediting body. Consider the facts: that the COA had been addressing concerns with that program for over seven years; that despite intense COA efforts to assist the program toward compliance, a lack of Improvement led to eventual pubic sanction; that further stem communication and progressive COA action did not result in compliance with the Standards, and; that the eventual decision was the result of all the above along with deep consideration of the consequences for those whom CCE most serves - the students and the public. Although difficult for some to accept, the COA was simply fulfilling its proper role. Please think about thief Should the COA never make an adverse decision? Given your commitment to the principles and the integrity of the profession, would you have the COA act otherwise after lengthy and arduous fact--finding?
That final question is an example of the type of issues we in CCE address on a continuing basis. The sole value of CCE to the public, the profession, and to you, is our credibility: credibility in setting standards, credibility in evaluating and assisting programs, and credibility in accreditation decisions. That is why we eschew the political aspects. Will CCE ever be able completely to escape the political effects? Probably not, as long as politics continue to swirl around us in the profession, for some will always be looking to cast a stone for political effect. The current flurry is an example of that. However, we have set our course on the high road arid are determined that CCE and its COA will remain on the most solid and credible possible base. In that you may remain confident.
Thank you for your attention to our message, and we will appreciate your sharing it with others. If you wish more information about CCE, please contact our Executive Vice President, Dr. Paul D. Walker, at our Executive Office. If needed, he will place you in contact with us.
Reed B. Phillips, D.C, Ph.D.
Joseph Brlmhall, D.C.