NEBHE President Invites Nominations for Nat’l Reciprocity Board to Streamline Online Offerings Across States

NEBHE President & CEO Michael K. Thomas posted the following invitation for nominations to the board of the National Council on State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NCSARA) …

Dear Colleague:

We invite nominations and applications for the board of the National Council on State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. As described in the final report of the Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education and its harmonization with similar prior work of both the Presidents’ Forum/Council of State Governments (CSG) and the four regional higher education compacts (the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, the New England Board of Higher Education, the Southern Regional Education Board, and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) we seek to create an interstate reciprocity system that will significantly streamline regulations and allow universities and colleges to more easily offer online courses across the country.

The national commission’s interstate reciprocity system calls for a single set of baseline standards and procedures to regulate distance education programs. The reciprocity system will ensure institutions can easily operate distance education programs in multiple states as long as they meet the regulatory requirements of their home state. The home state regulation will include standards dealing with institutional quality, consumer protection, and institutional financial responsibility.

We are communicating with you because you have been engaged in one fashion or another with the evolution of this national reciprocity effort and may wish to nominate someone for the board—or may choose to apply yourself. We will be seeking membership from individuals who will bring breadth in representation, applicable experience and a willing commitment to serve to the board.

Purpose of the National Council

As described in the national commission report, the role of the national council’s board will be to “advocate for the expansion of the agreement and adhere to three core principles of operation: maintenance of a limited role within the overall governance of the agreement, responsibility for communicating information to the field, and representativeness of all stakeholders.” In addition to these three core principles, the national commission report identifies five key roles and responsibilities for the national council to undertake to maintain the agreement:

  • Focus on ensuring the inter-regional alignment of the reciprocity agreement;
  • Hold meetings at least twice per year;
  • Produce an annual report on the state of the interstate reciprocity agreement;
  • Establish a mechanism to resolve disputes between regional compacts about interpretation and enforcement of the agreement when they arise; and
  • Be accessible to the higher education community at large to address concerns and questions as they arise (including appeals from states that are expelled from the agreement by their regional compact).

In addition to meeting at least twice annually, the national council will meet periodically as needed, using teleconference or other technology. During the first months of the national council’s operation, it is anticipated that meetings will be more frequent (perhaps monthly) to develop foundational materials and establish processes. The council is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2013.

Membership Guidelines for the National Council

  • The board of the national council will be large enough to ensure that the perspectives of all stakeholder groups will be represented on the board, but small enough to be an effective working coordinating board. We anticipate that 15 to 17 council members will be selected.
  • The board will include the CEOs of the four regional higher education compacts, which will be charged with developing the four Regional State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements that will ensure nationwide coverage of state reciprocity.
  • The remainder of the board, up to 13 possible additional members, will be selected to represent a diverse set of perspectives and interests.
  • Membership will not be driven by numerical representation or delegated interests; rather, members will be selected based on their knowledge of the field, ability to work across multiple perspectives, and commitment to the collaborative work and success of the national council. The selection committee will draw from all institutional sectors (including large- and small-scale; public, private, and for-profit distance education providers), regional and national accreditation agencies, state regulators, state attorneys general, and state higher education executive officers.
  • Board members will serve staggered terms, with limits established for the length of time that each board member may serve.

Selection Committee

The selection committee will include the four regional compact CEOs in collaboration with leadership of the Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education and the Presidents’ Forum/CSG collaborative.

Information on Submitting Nominations

Nominations and applications will be accepted until July 15, 2013. Appointments will be made as soon thereafter as possible, with the goal of initiating the work of the board by Sept. 1, 2013.

Nominations and applications should be directed to, and should include a brief bio of the individual being nominated or applying, a brief description of why this person would be an exceptional member of the board, and with what stakeholder group or groups this person is affiliated.

We encourage you to submit applications and nominations and appreciate your consideration. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact my office at or call 617-357-9620, x128.



Michael K. Thomas
President & CEO
New England Board of Higher Education


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