Press Releases | Trusteeship

ABA’s Vote on Tenure Requirements a Missed Opportunity for Accreditation Reform

March 19, 2014

It’s time for Congress to reform accreditation since it is clear that accreditors will not fundamentally reform themselves.

The latest case in point comes from an American Bar Association (ABA) panel which voted to retain its existing tenure requirements in its law school accreditation standards.

This vote comes in spite of a report issued earlier this year by the ABA’s own Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, which recommended loosening the tenure requirements.

The Task Force recognized that such standards are needlessly onerous, interfere with institutional autonomy, and drive up the price of a legal education—without any commensurate contribution to educational quality. This message was apparently lost on the ABA, which has decided to stand against much needed accreditation reform.

Some have claimed that the panel’s decision is a victory for academic freedom, but nothing could be further from the truth. The tenure requirements are less about protecting professors’ freedom of inquiry and more about preventing the kind of experimentation and innovation that would drive down costs and help students.

A final vote on plans to reform the law schools accreditation process will take place in August. ACTA urges the ABA to reconsider the recommendation of its own Task Force and reject the accreditation status quo. The guild-like mentality that characterizes accreditors—raising costs and reducing institutional flexibility and innovation—must end. It’s time for change.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

Discover More