MADISON — The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will hear a special luncheon presentation on “Accreditation for Distance Education Programs” on Thursday, April 8 prior to its regular monthly committee meetings.

Dr. Judith Eaton, president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), will make the presentation. The session is scheduled from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. in 1820 Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus. Interested persons are invited to attend the program as observers.

CHEA was established in 1997 to provide new coordination and oversight to the extensive system of higher education accreditation in the U.S. An area in which CHEA has taken leadership is in the accreditation of distance education — the offering of courses and whole degree programs via the Internet and other forms of technology.

The Western Governors University and the Southern Regional Electronic Campus are just two examples of this emerging trend, as is Learning Innovations, a UW System program that currently provides on-line access to nearly 600 courses for university, high school and technical college credit.

Not all distance education providers are reputable, however, and accrediting such programs is a challenge. In March, Jones International University became the first “virtual” institution to be accredited by a regional association (North Central). The decision has touched off a debate in the higher education community nationally.

Prior to becoming the first president of CHEA, Eaton was chancellor of the Minnesota State College and University System. Earlier in her career, she served as president of two community colleges, as vice president of the American Council on Education, and as president of the Council for Aid to Education.

Eaton will also attend the Regents’ Education Committee meeting at 1:30 p.m. on April 8. She will speak about the work of CHEA within the context of the Board’s ongoing discussion about accreditation issues in the UW System.


Kevin Boatright
(608) 263-2227