Is Hiring an Accreditation Consultant Worth Your School’s Money?
Have you wondered whether accreditation consultant prices are worth the money?
Let’s consider a realistic case study: Imagine that half your board neither donates money or brings in donations. And imagine that after giving your board the “get, give, or get off” speech, one of the members steps up boldly as Isaiah saying, “Here am I Lord. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).
Proudly, she proposes to help your school achieve accreditation by paying the full salary of an experienced academic dean for five years. “Of course,” she says, “this funding depends on my business deal going through, but I’m sure that it is about to succeed.”
You’re ready to canonize her a saint, give her an honorary doctorate, and name your next building after her.
Mrs. I-Don’t-Wait-for-Nobody, your new star board member, at once goes prospecting for suitable candidates. One of the deans she suggests is from a small school with 43 students and a Full-time Equivalency (FTE) of 29 students. The other is from a larger school with over 2,500 students and an FTE of 1,800.
Choose. Which dean do you want?
Your first thought might be that the dean from the small school may not have as much experience or expertise. The dean from the larger school does have a more impressive resume. On the other hand, the dean from the larger school may expect too much from an emerging school’s limited budget and small staff.
In a large school, a dean is accustomed to supervising large projects. He delegates. In a small school, the dean must be more of a “jack of all trades” who often jumps in to do whatever “less expert tasks” are also needed. This dean does not delegate much because there is no one for him to delegate to.
Which dean would you prefer?
The decision might become easier if the board member returns saying that her business deal went through—sort of, but not with as much profit as she had hoped. She can still help, but only with half the salary and for only three years. The school must provide the other half.
Based on the average salaries of experienced deans (see Table 1),[i] which would you now choose?
AVERAGE ACADEMIC DEAN COMPENSATION
2014–15 ABHE Data
|# Students (FTE)||Undergraduate Deans||
Can you afford to accept this board member’s gift? That is, can your annual budget afford an extra $20,000 to $43,000 per year to pay half an experienced dean’s salary for the next three years? Can you cover the cost of the entire salary after the three-year gift expires?
Is this “gift” as dangerous as the scandalously high-interest credit card that “generously” offers to forgo the annual fee for the first year?
There is a cheaper option—a better option—an opportunity.
The price of an accreditation consultant may initially cost more per hour than hiring a new dean, but it is far less overall. For instance, you do not need the consultant to plan course schedules, review syllabi, lead faculty meetings, etc. You need him or her to mentor your team through the accreditation process. Thus, you only pay for a fraction of an accreditation expert’s salary because you only get a fraction of the expert’s time.
Furthermore, you only pay the cost of an accreditation consultant for a few years while he or she trains your staff and sets up the procedures that will keep your school out of trouble with your accrediting agency.
That is why hiring an accreditation consultant is money very well spent and stewarded.
I fully concur with Dr. Agron’s advice regarding the option of an accreditation consultant. Yellowstone Christian College is small and needed accreditation help. With the accreditation consultant help came the crossover help for our Dean of Academics, a new hire who needed guidance with the many facets of his job.
Dr. Agron was, and continues to be, our consultant on a monthly retainer. His help was instrumental in YCC gaining Candidate Status in 2015 and now working toward full accreditation. Because we only pay for the hours we use him, the situation is perfectly suited to our college.
One of the pitfalls of a small college is overextending financially with ‘permanent’ employees. Adding a consult in various areas is a manageable way to add staff without the pressure of paying full or part time staff (and workspace, taxes, benefits, etc.). Our personnel are able to continue with the process with much less guidance from Dr. Agron; however, keeping him as our consultant means having the security of a seasoned veteran on our virtual staff.