Alphabet Soup - Higher-Education Organizations
There are dozens of national, international, and regional
organizations supporting higher education. The following list, which although
possibly exhausting, is far from exhaustive, can serve as a decoder ring for
their acronyms along with an explanation of the role each plays and a hyperlink
to their respective websites.
American Association of Community Colleges – One of “The Six” Higher-Education
Organizations in Washington, DC; they represent almost 1,200 institutions
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – This is the leading
accrediting body for business schools in the U.S. It has become quite
international in scope, accrediting more than 950 schools of business around
the world in over 1oo countries and territories.
American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers – They
establish the standards by which academic credit is recorded and transferred.
In the U.S., most institutions will accept transfer credit from other
regionally accredited institutions. AACRAO often serves as the objective
reviewing body when institutions are asked to accept international transfer
AAC&U – American
Association of Colleges and Universities – this is the organization that
focusses on liberal-arts education across higher education with an emphasis on
enhancing the quality of teaching and learning and advocacy on the power of a liberal
– American Association for Higher Education and Accreditation – Founded in
1870, this was originally the “Department of Higher Education” of the NEA (National Education Association). It later
became a free-standing organization that has become focused on supporting and
accrediting faith-based institutions.
American Association of State Colleges and Universities – One of “The Six”
Higher-Education Organizations in Washington, DC; this began as the Association
of Teacher Education and has come to represent state-supported institutions.
They focus on expanding access to all students. They have over 400 member
Association of American Universities – One of “The Six” Higher-Education
Organizations in Washington, DC; this is the organization of leading research
universities, 2 Canadian and 60 from the U.S. They work on policies and best
practices for research and scholarship in higher education.
American Association of University Professors – Founded by John Dewey and
Arthur Lovejoy in 1915, the AAUP was initially founded to protect academic
freedom and to identify and foster best practices in the academy, it has
subsequently also become a labor-advocacy organization of the professoriate.
Their “Red Book,” Bulletin of the American Association of University
Professors, has become the
foundation of best practices and principles connected to academic freedom and
AAUW - America
Association of University Women – Founded in 1881, they have advocated for
equity for women and girls in higher education.
– American Counseling Association – This is the principal organization of
professional counselors in the U.S., including college and university
ACAD - American
Conference of Academic Deans – This group, supporting academic leaders “above
department chairs and below presidents” provides professional developments and
the exchange of best practices for academic leadership at the dean and provost
Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs – This group was founded
in 1988 to provide an accreditation option based on teaching and learning alone
for business programs whose research commitments did not align with those
required by AACSB.
– American College Counseling Association – This is the leading organization
for collegiate mental healthcare professionals.
ACE – American Council on
Education – One of “The Six” Higher-Education Organizations in Washington, DC;
this is the umbrella organization of higher education that represents public,
private, and community colleges, it has about 1,800 member institutions and
American College Personnel Association – This is one of two leading
organizations for student affairs staff.
American Council of Trustees and Alumni – This is a conservative group that
calls on trustees to hold higher-education institutions accountable for their
curricular requirements. They grade institutions each year in a report card
called “What will they learn.” The idea is reasonable, but the execution is
inconsistent. Some of the nation’s best colleges get failing grades for not
requiring coursework in specific departments. Just because a student isn’t
required to take a course in the history department doesn’t mean that they
don’t learn history.
AGB – Association
of Governing Boards – They support college and university boards of trustees, promoting
best practices among boards.
Association of Institutional Research – This is a national association for
institutional researchers and institutional effectiveness officers. They advocate
for best practices and for consistent use of data across higher education.
Group – Originally founded in 1984 as the Oberlin Group,
the Annapolis Group constituted itself in 1993. It is a presidential group of
the leading independent residential liberal arts colleges in the U.S. They
confer to support best practices and to advocate for their sector. They host a
joint annual meeting for presidents and chief academic officers that is
traditionally held in Annapolis, MD.
Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities – One of “The Six” Higher-Education
Organizations in Washington, DC; founded in 1887, it is North America’s oldest
higher-education organization; they have 218 members including 76 land-grant
universities and the 33 Native-American land-grants schools. Two-thirds of
sponsored research in higher education occurs on their member campuses.
Association for the Study of Higher Education – This group has over 2,200
members dedicated to analysis and research on higher education.
Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching – This organization was founded
in 1905 by Andrew Carnegie and Chartered by Congress the following year. This
organization created the “Carnegie
Unit” as a shared concept of the credit hour; TIAA
(Teachers Insurance and Annuity Associate) the leading retirement fund in
higher education; Educational Testing Service,
the group that produces the SAT and GRE exams; and the Carnegie Classification
System that categorizes institutions as research, regional comprehensive,
CAS – Council
for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education – This is a consortium of
41 professional organization in higher education who work together to create
shared standards and best practices across student development and student
Council for the Advancement and Support of Education – This is the national
organization for advancement (fundraising), marketing, and communications
professionals in higher education.
Council for Higher Education Accreditation – This is the national organization
that sets standards and supports accreditation of institutions across higher
education. This includes disciplinary and regional accreditors. CIQG is the CHEA International
Quality Group that provides parallel services for non-U.S. institutions. They
are members of INQAAHE, the
International Network of Quality Assurances Associations in Higher Education,
which is headquartered in Barcelona, Spain.
Council of Higher Education Management Associations – This is an informal
organization of many of the organizations on this page along with other
organizations that provide support of services for higher education. It is
coordinated by NACUBO.
– Council of Independent Colleges – This is a national organization of about
690 private, mostly residential, teaching and comprehensive colleges. They
present annual conferences for Chief Academic Officers and Presidents, a series
of professional development programs to prepare the next generation of higher-education
leaders, and a variety of academic initiatives, notably Legacies of
American Slavery, Humanities
Research for the Public Good, and NetVUE, a program exploring the
role of vocation in intellectual inquiry.
Council for International Educational Exchange – Founded by IIE, this
organization operates over 175 study abroad programs in over 40 countries.
College and University Public Relations and Associated Professionals – This group
promotes and celebrates marketing and public relations in support of higher
education. It began as a Pennsylvania-based organization and has gained a
– This is the information technology organization within higher education.
- Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities – This serves as a hub
organization for HSIs (Hispanic Serving Institutions), but it also provides
advocacy and support across higher education for Hispanic students and how all institutions
can better support their education and networking opportunities.
– Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium – This is a voluntary member
organization of mostly liberal-arts colleges and smaller comprehensives who
share data. The consortium is housed at Wabash College and provides its member
with many sector analyses.
HERI – Higher
Education Research Institute – Housed at UCLA, this organization conducts
research across many facets of higher education. These include useful surveys
of faculty and students
Institute of International Education – Founded in 1919, IIE promotes international
student exchanges and conducts significant statistical research on
international higher education, most notably in Open Doors,
an annual report on study abroad. They have created NAFSA and CIEE, and they
sponsor aid for international exchange and relief,
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System – is a data collection branch of
NCES (National Center for Education
Statistics), which in turn is an operation of the U.S. Department of Education.
This is the repository for much of the data institutions must submit to the
National Association for College Admission Counseling – This organization provides
standards and guidance for counselors in secondary schools who advise students
about college selection, and they support those who recruit students to attend
college. In 2019, the Department of Justice challenged a long-standing set of
standards aimed at eliminating interinstitutional competition for students once
an enrollment decision was made. They sponsor many college fairs. There are 23
regional affiliates with some truly delightful acronyms. My favorite is
NYSACAC, the NY affiliate.
NACADA – National
Academic Advising Association – This is an international organization of over
10,000 academic advisors on more than 2,400 campuses. They are housed at Kansas
National Association of Colleges and Employers – This is the principal
organization that supports career services professionals and career placement
NACUBO - National Association of College and University Business
Officers – This is the leading organization for those who lead business and
finance offices on college campuses. They provide professional development,
guidance on best practices, and compile and analyze valuable comparative data,
National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education – This is an
organization of Diversity Officers that also partners with other national
organizations to share best practices and to advocate for DEIJ across the
– National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education – Founded in
1969, this is the national organization that specifically support HBCUs
(Historically Black Colleges and Universities).
founded as the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers – now NAFSA:
Association of International Educator – This organization supports study-abroad
professionals and advises international students wishing to attend U.S.
institutions. They also support English as a Second Language programs.
– National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics – This is the athletic association
for about 25o smaller higher-education institutions, most of whom offer
athletic scholarships. They began as a result of the creation of the NIT
(National Invitational Tournament), a basketball tournament that predates the
NCAA tournament by two years. They were the first national athletic association
to invite Historically Black Colleges and Universities into membership.
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities – One of “The
Six” Higher-Education Organizations in Washington, DC; This is the lobbying
organization for independent higher education in DC; its membership includes
over 1,000 institutions; NAICUSE
(National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities State
Executives) is a subgroup of the state- and district-based (37 states, Puerto
Rico, and DC) organizations that represent these institutions on the state
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators – This is the
principal organization for student affairs professionals.
National Collegiate Athletic Association – This is the national athletic association
for over 1,100 institutions. Founded in 1906, the NCAA moved to university and
collegiate level competitions in 1957, and then to its current three-division
system in 1973. Division III does not allow athletics scholarships; Division II
allows athletics scholarships and is generally small to moderate-sized institutions;
and Division I allows athletics scholarships and includes many large institutions.
Much of the funding for the NCAA comes from the television revenue derived from
the “March Madness” men’s basketball tournament.
NCHEMS - National
Center for Higher Education Management Consulting – This organization helps
institutions and systems in their strategic planning work.
Some Pennsylvania-specific bonuses:
Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania – This organization
supports 92 independent, non-profit higher-education institutions in the Commonwealth.
They provide and foster lobbying efforts in support of the students at our
respective institutions, and they coordinate over 30 shared services creating
savings to each participating institution for software, insurance, cyber
security, and many other programs.
PASSHE – Pennsylvania State
System of Higher Education – This is the organization of 10 state-owned
institutions. Previously comprising 14 institutions, the system recent merged
two triads into unified institutions retaining 3 campuses each.
Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority – Created in 1963 by the PA
General Assembly, PHEAA provides a range of financial-aid services including
loan guarantee, loan servicing, and a range of other aid services. They also
administer the state’s need-based higher-education grant program.