Fiddling while KP burns: The deadline for meeting the requirements to maintain accreditation is 56 days away

[NOTE: Correction made to the status of the legislation relating to funding the academy and how that impacts reaccreditation. Substantive changes shown in red]

On March 1, 2017, the Academy faces a deadline to demonstrate that it has met the requirements of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (“MSCHE”) in order to maintain its accreditation. What have we heard from the administration?  Crickets. Instead of focusing on the actual concerns of MSCHE, the administration went off on its accountability-diversion strategy of blaming the decision to place the Academy on accreditation warning on a false narrative of pervasive sexual assault and sexual harassment during sea year.

That is not to say that some progress has not been made. One requirement that the Academy must meet is to show that it has taken steps to get Congress to remove the handcuffs placed on USMMA’s ability to spend money. Those handcuffs adversely affect the Academy when it comes to hiring and funding its operations. Fortunately, the Continuing Resolution that passed in December Proposed legislation in the Senate 2017 appropriations bill for Transportation, Housing and Development (“T-HUD”) included language that freed up 50% of the Academy’s budget by removing restrictions that required approval by DOT before it could be spent. Unfortunately, the House version of the bill did not include that language and the conflict never was resolved before this last session of Congress ended. Thus, no legislation resulted.  But, presumably the new session of Congress will start with similar legislation. And, the progress so far may be sufficient to show MSCHE that steps were taken to meet that requirement. The other 50% was still subject to restraints; but, the biggest problems with respect to the funding arose early in each fiscal year and freeing up of half of the funding would eliminate the bottleneck. That should satisfy MSCHE.  Why the Academy has chosen not to notify its stakeholders of this important milestone is beyond me.

Of course, given the overall radio silence about any effort to address the MSCHE requirements, the administration’s failure to note that Congress acted attempted to address the one requirement that was in Congress’ power to address should not be surprising — it’s been more than six months since the Academy’s web page dedicated to the reaccreditation issue was last updated.

The last official communication I can find about the effort to address the MSCHE requirements is in the Academy’s December 16, 2016 news bulletin — which reported on the month-old news of what Superintendent Helis told the Congressional Board of Visitors about the accreditation effort on November 14, 2016:

“In addition, I explained that as part of our re-accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), we are implementing new assessment models to improve our campus-wide effectiveness.”

Talk about bureaucratic double-speak. I summarized the MSCHE requirements in this post. I’m sure MSCHE will be just as puzzled as I am as to how “implementing new assessment models to improve our campus-wide effectiveness” fits in to those requirements.

Superintendent Helis should be giving regular updates to all stakeholders on the progress the Academy is making towards meeting each and every one of the MSCHE requirements.  But I’m sure he will go about that with the same urgency he has shown towards releasing the LMI culture study.  Remember that study?  The administration claimed the need for the study was so urgent that it had to be completed in 60 days. And it has now sat on the results of the study for almost 30 days.


  1. I distinctly remember reading somewhere that this will be the most transparent administration ever…. perhaps DOT didn’t get that memo.

  2. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say perhaps the LMI study results have not been released because they do not fit the administration/MARAD’s false narrative? Imagine that…

  3. Speaking of fiddling while KP burns…, what has the Alumni Foundation done since releasing their own study which has been ignored by politicians, MARAD, and Helis? Have they met with Chao yet? Have they explored legal actions to block MARAD and Helis from destroying the heart and soul of training at USMMA, Sea Year?

    The Foundation reported earlier that they exceeded their goal for fundraising this year, take some of that money and take legal action against MARAD and DOT. View it as an investment. If opportunities for employment are reduced for under-trained graduates, the lower incomes will follow them through life and thus less disposable income for USMMAAF donations through life. But by the time that impact is felt, the current leadership at USMMAAF will be retired.

    The historical legacy of the USMMAAF hangs in the balance.

    • Coach, let me start with a disclaimer: I don’t speak for the AAF and it doesn’t speak for me. It doesn’t control this website. With that out of the way, I can say that I am more aware of some of what the AAF is doing in the background than most. First, the Self Solutions study was essential and it alone was a vital contribution to the effort for restoring sea year. I’m looking forward to the release of the final document. Second, the AAF has been very busy with working with Congress and the incoming administration. These kinds of contacts often cannot be made public. Much is going on behind the scenes. The AAF has a different role to play than the flame throwers such as myself. It has to work with Congress all the time, and not just on one issue, for the betterment of the Academy. It has to stay non-partisan and above the fray.

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