Mr. Fred Harcleroad, right, sits with his wife, Moyne, during the DETC's 81st Annual Conference in Tucson, Arizona..
Former DETC Commission Chair, Fred F. Harcleroad, Jr., died June 10th at the age of 93.
Dr. Harcleroad served as Public Member on the DETC Accrediting Commission from 1976 to 1985, and as Commission Chair from 1977 to 1985.
“Fred was a real ‘giant’ in the non-governmental, voluntary accrediting movement, an articulate and brilliant higher education leader who defined what excellence is in education. He was active in the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (COPA) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and wrote insightful and cutting-edge essays on accreditation,” said DETC Executive Director Mike Lambert. “Fred was for transparency and accountability in accreditation decades before the concepts took hold in education. He once proposed that institutions develop a ‘Report Card’ on their outcomes. He was a prophet long before anyone else came to see the wisdom of his vision.”
It was under Dr. Harlcleroad’s Chairmanship of the Commission that DETC first took a leap into the world of degree program accreditation, which, in 1978, was a very controversial move. The then- U.S. Office of Education had published a directory of accrediting agencies in the early 1970s, and the back cover had a statement that declared, “No reputable education institution offers academic degrees solely through correspondence study in the United States.”
Fred had one of the most distinguished records of any accrediting association Chair. A native Wyoming “cowpoke,” he earned his PhD from Stanford University. He was the founding President of the California State University, Hayward; founder of the Center for the Study of Higher Education; President of the American College Testing (ACT); and the author of many books and articles on higher education. He was a wonderful ballroom dancer, and he and his wife of 69 years, Moyne, who survives him, were the first dancers on the floor of every DETC after-dinner dance.
“It was intimidating to watch your Chair and his wife float effortlessly across the polished floor,” said Lambert. “No one dared to compete with them, they were that good.”
Even after his time on the Commission, Fred maintained a lively interest in the work of DETC.
“After each publication of the DETC News, he took the time to call me and spend time discussing current events affecting the Council,” Lambert said. “He always chided me when an article in our publications referred to DETC as an ‘accrediting agency,’ reminding me that agencies are governmental units, and that DETC is an ‘accrediting association.
“The distinction was very important to Fred, since he long feared the Federal government would one day overwhelm voluntary accreditation in order to serve government’s interests. I actively sought his counsel on dozens of occasions, and he was generous to me and DETC always. Fred knew more about accreditation than any person I had ever met. He was fiercely dedicated to quality learning that was peer group -judged. His over-arching concern was: ‘How with this affect students? Will it help or harm them?’”
DETC members owe so much to Fred F. Harcleroad, Jr., for it was his national prestige, as a leader from the world of traditional higher education, which he fearlessly put on the line for us, as well as his bold vision, that distance education academic degrees would one day be treated on an equal basis with fixed facility-issued degrees. And thanks to his hard work and dedication, he lived to see this take place.
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