Creed speaks on ‘preserving mission of religious institutions’ before U.S. Department of Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President J. Bradley Creed spoke on behalf of Campbell University and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Thursday at a U.S. Department of Education hearing on negotiated rulemaking regarding accreditation.

In June, the Department of Education proposed to reduce compliance requirements for accreditation and accrediting agencies when it comes to a school’s eligibility to participate in Federal student financial aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. According to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, accreditation has become a central issue in higher education policy, representing a path to billions of dollars annually in federal student aid.

Creed spoke for roughly five minutes at the department’s headquarters on Maryland Avenue in Washington, D.C., Thursday, on the federal government’s role in “preserving and protecting the distinctive mission of religious institutions” and the importance of maintaining quality academic standards.

He said institutional autonomy, unburdened by excessive regulation, has been a key part in Campbell University’s recent growth. More than 30 percent of the school’s undergraduate student body are first-generation college students, and 93 percent of Campbell’s undergrads receive some form of financial aid, much of which is institutional.

“A strength of American higher education is its variety with different kinds of institutions,” Creed said. “Colleges and universities with a religious mission play an essential role in contributing to the common good, human flourishing and a more perfect union envisioned by the nation’s founders. They enable students to make a life, make a living and make a difference in our world.”

Creed also expressed strong support for the process of regional and program accreditation, which is essential for “preserving educational quality and maintaining academic standards.” He requested that the Department of Education provide greater clarity and certainty to the definition of religious mission.

His requests were echoed by Council for Christian Colleges and Universities President Shirley Hoogstra, who also spoke before the department on Thursday.

“Christian higher education produces committed, compassionate, convicted citizens who want to deeply engage in this world, not in spite of their faith, but because of their faith,” Hoogstra said. “Therefore, we are grateful to the Department today for embarking on this process of ensuring that the mission of faith-based higher education is protected.”

As part of the “negotiated rulemaking” process, the department scheduled three public hearings — the other two will be held next week in New Orleans and Sturtevant, Wisconsin — for public input to be published in the government’s Federal Register.