For Immediate Release
22 June 2023
Gordon Jones

The Trustees of Mount Liberty College hailed the publication of a new report by The Heritage Foundation on collegiate accreditation. The report, calling for a complete overhaul of the process of accreditation in U.S. higher education was written by a team of researchers at the Foundation and released 20 June. The report provides examples of “a dysfunctional accreditation system,” citing high costs, little return on investment, and pressure for ideological uniformity on college campuses. The solution, according to the report, is congressional overhaul to “return accreditation to its original function as a mechanism for quality assurance.”

“This report echoes our own criticism of accreditation, and validates the decision of Mount Liberty College not to seek [accreditation],” said Gordon Jones, a founder and trustee of the four-year liberal arts college located in Murray, Utah. The college is in its fifth year of existence and produced its first graduating class in May 2023. “It would have cost a lot of money, taken a lot of time, and subjected us to the kinds of pressures driving every other college in Utah towards the intolerance of open inquiry and free speech so common on campuses today,” Jones said.

The Heritage report, written by Lindsey Burke, Ph.D., Adam Kissel, Armand Alacbay, and Kyle Beltramini, offers a litany of examples of accrediting agencies, which are themselves licensed by the U.S. Department of Education, pressuring colleges on admission standards and curriculum content. To counter the existing accreditation cartel, Heritage calls on Congress to act.

Specifically, Heritage calls for (1) “breaking the monopoly still enjoyed by regional accreditors;” (2) “prevent accreditors from using their gatekeeping power to impose inappropriate regulations on institutions;” and (3) “create an alternate path to [student loan] eligibility.” Since Mount Liberty does not accept federal or state money, directly or indirectly, this last recommendation is only important in that it recognizes the need for alternatives to paper credentials. MLC has such alternative paths for admission of high school students and applauds schools which have adopted them at the next stage of higher education as well.

“An alternative path to graduate study based on merit, rather than paper compliance with some set of accrediting criteria, is essential,” according to Jennifer Jensen, another trustee of Mount Liberty College. “For example, one of our graduates was admitted to the Ralston College master’s in Humanities program for the coming year. Ralston was interested in her ability to do the work, not in whether or not she attended an accredited college.” MLC operates on the premise that a law school, for example, will be more interested in an applicant’s score on the LSAT than in whether her bachelor’s degree is “accredited.”

The Mount Liberty trustees strongly echo Heritage’s call for congressional action. To quote an earlier article by Jones, reformers “might just as well drop those pruning shears, pick up an axe, and go after the root of the problem.”