David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
I Have Hit My Summer's Ad Capacity

June 15, 2021

"It's June," sings Tanya Donelly at the opening of her song New England, "and I'm still wearing my boots. Come soon, back to New England, with its outstretched arms and lost charms."

I always thought those boots were for snow, but maybe she references a different kind of treacherous stepping.  For the third or fourth time over the last five years, I have received in June advertising from Collegiate Enterprise Solutions straight out of Peabody, Massachusetts. C.E.S. appears to be the parent company for a series of "Registries," all offering to take care of my every academic institutional need.

My first June registry was for interim executive placements, an idea so horrifying that I mocked it in the June 27, 2016, blog, "Unbridled Registry," envisioning a menu of interim executives for someone's choosing in the same way that I can choose between a crockpot and a silver tray from my niece's wedding registry.  And outside of occasionally wondering if life would be so much easier if I was on that menu rather than perusing that menu ("Dr. Fleming is the knife set of the interim executive options, cutting but likely to become dull over time"), I have ignored the other "Registry" marketing that has come over the years.

Then this week, I find in my mail (because this is old-fashioned mailed marketing) the "Registry Advisory Services" for Accreditation Consulting Services.  This time we are offered a "network of accreditation experts and specialists . . . with capabilities and experiences relevant to all types of institutions."  As part of their offered "Blueprint For The Future," they provide services within the following categories:

  • Accreditation Audit Reviews & Capacity Extending Solutions;
  • Regional Accreditation;
  • Professional Accreditation;
  • Modes of Operation.

For those of you not in academia (you lucky, lucky bastards), everything you need to know about how exhausting accreditation is within our industry can be found in the Registry's description of how they support "Regional Accreditation" (the overarching accreditation for any college).

We are told that such accreditation is "becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain due to pressures inside and outside of the higher education sector."  It's hard enough to predict those of us who work in the industry, let alone the outsiders who don't but still hold powerful sway over each of us.

We are reminded that "reaccreditation is an enormous project consuming countless hours and valuable human resources" and that many of us "are challenged by the enormity of this effort."  For those of you not in the know, picture trying to justify the last decade of your life to God in the hopes that he/she validates the next decade.  If you can, you almost have a good picture of reaccreditation.

Finally, we are comforted that the Registry can provide "expert and informed advice to add useful counsel and expanded capacity for accreditation related activities." All of a sudden, higher education sounds like a pick-up truck with expanded capacity to haul all that manure around. Also, thank goodness, they don't add un-useful counsel. I get plenty of that already.

As if the advert isn't irritating enough, the accompanying cover letter from an executive makes me cringe for basic grammar usage in the accreditation support they offer.  Gauging by the letter, the comma after an introductory clause must have reached its capacity. The comma for an appositive apparently has become positively unnecessary. Finally, sentence fragments and comma splices apparently can live in perfect harmony even in a one-page letter.

Most significantly, I am struck that they could do so much better identifying their target audience. I received this information three months after our 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation visit by HLC, something we had been working on for almost 3 years.  I might have swooned in a previous June about this when that preparation seemed so overwhelming. If you go to the Higher Learning Commission's page, for instance, and do a search for institutions, each institution accredited by HLC can be found with its current status of accreditation, including upcoming accreditation reviews.  A good intern could have made a master list sorted by upcoming accreditations so that RAS could blueprint its future in terms of likely candidates. However, maybe the Registry came up empty on their Registry of Interns.

I have written before of higher education's cottage industries (February 19, 2020, "A Walk Among Cottage Collages," most recently).  Everyone complains about how our graduates can't get jobs, and yet we are a job creator the likes even Trump can't dream of.

Near the end of New England, Donelly sings that the residents of New England just want "to be left alone in peace."  Sorry, Registry, you should have reached out to me prior to the long brutal winter that is Accreditation preparation.

You can hear Donelly's fantastic song here.