December 2021 News from CEA

2021 End of Year Message from Connie Lee, 2021 Commission Chair

As 2021 comes to a close, I’m pleased to report on the work of the Commission throughout this past year. In early December, the Commission held its first in-person meeting in two years during a narrow window of safe travel and in-person gatherings. The in-person December meeting was especially meaningful not only for the opportunity to see our Commission colleagues in person, but also given that many long-term projects were able to be concluded with formal approvals taking place at this meeting. 

Throughout 2021, the Commission reviewed and revised CEA’s mission statement, developed a 4-year strategic plan, approved the Distance Education Task Force to continue its work to guide CEA’s future accreditation activities, and voted to adopt certain changes to the CEA Standards for English Language Programs and Institutions in addition to its regular work of making accreditation decisions, reviewing compliance reports and holding professional development sessions at each meeting. At the December meeting, we also had the opportunity to review and ratify the work of the Nominating Committee and the Policies and Procedures Committee. 

As my year as Chair of the Commission comes to an end, I would like to thank my Commission colleagues for their commitment to serving CEA and providing important non-profit governance duties as well as being the accreditation decision-making body. I would also like to extend special thanks to the competent and capable CEA staff, specialized contractors, and the cadre of volunteer peer reviewers who have stepped up to conduct both in-person and hybrid site visits throughout 2021. All of these individuals’ work and dedication allow CEA to operate as a high-functioning specialized accreditor.

On a personal note, as one of the two elected commissioners who has had the privilege of serving two consecutive terms to ensure continuity during CEA’s executive director transition, I am grateful to have worked closely with CEA’s former and current executive directors, Mary Reeves and Heidi Vellenga. Both are adept at responding flexibly to unanticipated circumstances and have consistently demonstrated exemplary leadership with a calm, balanced and methodical approach. Under such great leadership and with the strong support from the staff, specialized contractors, volunteers, and the Constituent Council members, I’m confident that CEA will continue to promote excellence in the field of English language education.

It’s been a great honor to lead the Commission this year; I am truly humbled by the experience and I am looking forward to serving my final year on the Commission under of the leadership of Ian Collins, 2022 Commission Chair. Having served as a peer reviewer and a commissioner, I have experienced tremendous growth as a professional. I strongly encourage all interested ESL faculty and administrators to stay engaged with CEA and consider applying to serve either as a peer reviewer or on the Commission. I guarantee that it will be one of the most rewarding professional development opportunities that will not only enrich individuals, but also serve their institutions and the field well.

Connie Lee
2021 Commission Chair

Commission activities

Recent accreditation decisions

The Commission met December 3-5, 2021 to make accreditation decisions and conduct other CEA business. Accreditation decisions are announced on the CEA website under Recent Decisions within 30 days of each meeting. In addition, information about other Commission activities is provided below.

Please contact Heidi Vellenga, CEA’s Executive Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions you may have about the Commission actions, announcements and activities described below.

New Commissioners elected for 2022
We welcome four commissioners to serve 2022-2024 terms: Anna Carson, Robert Connor, Elizabeth Gould, and Paul Primak (public member). Elected commissioners are identified by the CEA Nominating Committee, which is charged with ensuring that the Commission profile maintains a balance of domains of expertise, types of experiences, and range of perspectives, as well as a mix of administrators and academics/educators/practitioners, from year to year. The Nominating Committee conducts a detailed process of soliciting applications, interviewing candidates and references, and determining the slate each year, which the Constituent Council then votes on each year. This year, CEA had the highest number of Constituent Council votes. Paul Primak, public member, is the first public member to serve two consecutive terms and is appointed by the Executive Committee. Election results and appointments are formally ratified by the Commission in December. The 2022 Call for Nominations for commissioner applicants to serve three-year terms from 2023-2025 will be published March 1, 2022.


2022 Officers
CEA’s officers are elected from among current Commission members. The Commission has elected Nick Ferdinandt as 2022 chair-elect (and to subsequently serve as 2023 chair), and Paul Primak as 2022 treasurer. They will join Ian Collins, 2022 chair, and Heidi Vellenga, CEA’s Executive Director who serves as secretary, to comprise CEA’s 2022 Executive Committee.


Standards Review
The Standards Review Committee has completed its review of the standards document as a whole, which culminates in proposing changes to the Commission after a public comment period. Changes were approved by the Commission at its December meeting. Accredited sites are subject to the standards in place at the time of their attendance at an accreditation workshop, or at the time they submit an interim report. The 2022 CEA Standards for English Language Programs and Institutions will be published in March 2022 with other informational and instructional materials.


Strategic Planning
The Commission approved CEA’s next strategic plan at its August 2021 meeting, and staff has begun preparing for implementation of the plan.


Professional Development
The Commission engages in regular professional development, holding at each Commission meeting a session that will enhance commissioners’ knowledge related to their Commission responsibilities and thus build depth of expertise related to accreditation, non-profit association governance, and other matters relevant to CEA’s environment. At the December meeting, the Commission’s special guest was Leah Matthews, Executive Director of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.


USDE Petition
CEA is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a specialized accreditation agency. CEA’s petition for re-recognition was submitted in early 2020. Since then, Heidi Vellenga, CEA’s current executive director, has been working with CEA’s assigned USDE staff analyst to prepare for CEA’s appearance in front of NACIQI (National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity) for a re-recognition decision during its virtual meeting February 23-24, 2022.



Annual Report notices for 2022 were distributed to accredited sites in early December 2021, with a due date of February 15, 2022. Each accredited program or institution must submit an annual report in each year of accredited status. The annual report must be submitted through the CEA Annual Report Portal. For more information about the portal or how to file an annual report, see the CEA Resources page.


2022 Annual Constituent Council Meeting
CEA holds an annual business meeting in keeping with its status as a Virginia corporation. The meeting, which is delivered virtually, will be held on Friday, June 10, 2022. Members of the Constituent Council, comprised of CEA’s accredited sites, will receive formal notice of meeting matters 60 days prior, along with specific instructions for joining the meeting. Questions about the meeting should be directed to Heidi Vellenga, CEA’s Executive Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Report operational changes
Any changes to previously-submitted notifications, such as a return to in-person classes, should be reported to CEA using the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. mailbox as directed in the CEA Statement on COVID-19 which requires accredited sites to notify CEA of any temporary accommodations made as a result of the pandemic. Be sure to include your CEA ID and effective dates for any changes. Based on flexibilities published by federal agencies such as SEVP (Student Exchange and Visitor Program) and USDE (United States Department of Education), CEA continues to provide temporary approval for online course delivery until the end of the declared federal emergency. US-based schools certified by SEVP should forward a copy of any procedural updates submitted to SEVP to CEA for our records and are reminded that fully online instruction is only permitted for certain types of F-1 students.