Informed Decision-Making: The Importance of Distillation and Synthesis

Music administrators face many issues. Daily, issues in considerable number and breadth appear and require attention, reflection, analysis, and action. Local parameters, professional expectations for music teaching and learning, and community-wide educational cultures and procedures are springboards as music executives employ their skills to gather information, shepherd conversations, assemble consensus, and develop courses of action. When successful, such efforts not only produce positive results, they also increase trust in decision-making elements and processes. Confidence is built from such successes and other components as well; for example, operational fealty to a clearly articulated and shared vision; factual, true, and genuine information analyzed and applied carefully; and considered conclusions and stable mechanisms that inform and assist individual and small group operations, work, and evaluation. Clearly, trust is a critical common element and must be built in many dimensions and on many levels.

Accuracy and quality of information are major ingredients in building and maintaining trust. Whether facing the effects of a critical situation or anticipating what will come next, good and real information is key, as is honesty about the true status of information based on estimates: the ways and the extent to which estimates may be accurate at any given, but not necessarily in the next, moment. But there is more. It would appear that a characteristic shared by the most successful music administrators is a desire to seek virtuosity in understanding detail by studying, evaluating, distilling, synthesizing, and formulating information-based conclusions for others to review, to use in their own efforts, or to employ while cooperating with others. These information-based results are usually institution-specific. Most often, they do not spring forth from raw information itself, but rather from a process that includes reviewing specific issues in light of multiple contexts, starting with core purposes and functions and moving on to current local, regional, and at times, national conditions and climates. These administrators also master the art of leading, of making changes when new information indicates that a previous decision should be altered. Such careful considerations are oriented more to making institution-specific choices than to discovering and following what is being said, thought, or done elsewhere. The conversation and considerations in such environments are almost always pure in nature and intent and therefore typically focused on actions that are designed to serve the greater good.

Of course, time is an issue. Most musicians seek efficient use of time because there is always so much to be done. Usually, it takes time to be thorough and discerning. Many issues are complex, many problems do not have single answers. At times, it takes time to define a problem clearly in terms of one’s specific situation. Simple, singular, and quick answers may be appropriate when such approaches fit the nature of the problem. Most likely, however, hastily made decisions as they pertain to complex matters create difficulties down the line and postpone the formulation of ways forward that address both the short- and long-term aspects of an issue in relationship with other issues and goals. Virtuoso administrators are careful about setting precedents, or ending with solutions that work in one sector, but do damage in others, or being insufficiently aware of the local context or the full set of real costs and risks associated with a specific course of action. They are willing to be patient, to take the time necessary to be thorough, to look at options in light of the full range of operational and resource issues and in consideration of prospective conditions in areas critical to the continuing success of their students and colleagues in the field of music now and in the immediate future.

It is of utmost importance for music administrators to review and remain abreast of current and newly released information as it applies to ongoing institutional considerations. Using the principles outlined above as a reference for context, specific sources of information are listed below as they pertain to (a) development of arts advocacy campaigns which underline the value of arts education, (b) responsibilities of NASM-accredited institutional members, (c) the coronavirus – its effects as they relate to arts study and consideration of possible mitigation options, (d) the role of strategic thinking and planning and their impact on the decision-making process, and (e) federal law and regulation governing the flow of federal monies available to support institutions of higher education and the students they serve. The information is pertinent to the long-term health and well-being of music as a field of study – a concern which remains in our sights even though at times our daily attentions are diverted elsewhere. Some of the information provided is pertinent to what our country and therefore we face from day to day. Some may be pertinent to current realities in play at your institution; some less so. Different institutions have different missions and face different sets of realities, and therefore it is important to study and consider the information, determining its applicability carefully, particularly as it may apply to your local situation. The value of verified information cannot be underestimated. However, it is important to remember that the real work begins when the information collected and adjudged for its applicability is used to nurture informed decision-making. Informed decision-making will not occur from the mere collection of information but rather from thorough analysis which confirms the applicability of the information to the issues at hand, and its potential to inform decision-making which takes into consideration local realities, responsibilities, and resources. Should further information or analysis be required regarding the topics highlighted in this text or on other topics, seek specific guidance and wisdom from those with the expertise to assist you. Then, having developed confidence in your research and study, you will be in a good place to make broadly conceived decisions that will move initiatives on behalf of the work of your institution or department forward. It helps to remember that decision-making is not a one-time event; it is an unfolding and ongoing process, in part because conditions are always changing. Each decision is merely a piece of a puzzle that must be solved for a time. Normally, the more volatile and unstable the conditions, the more difficult the daily and the long-term puzzles, and the more choices of answers are available.

NASM Resources


NASM maintains an extensive library of information, the holdings of which serve as a source of support and assistance to music administrators. Highlighted below is information intended to assist you to prepare for conversations that may arise which question the value of arts study, particularly during times when resources available to the institution have been reduced, and the allocation of remaining resources is in question. Please note: A full list of NASM published texts may be found in the Publications section of the NASM website.


Information available in the texts listed below may be of assistance to music administrators in need of creating talking points which clearly outline the value and importance of art study.

National Standards

The NASM standards, in place and in force for nearly a century, approved and amended by the NASM membership upon achievement of consensus, confirm and attest to the level of rigor required of music study in the United States, and the achievements expected of students enrolled in music study.

  • Characteristics of NASM Standards. A broad overview of the characteristics of the national standards found in the NASM Handbook.
  • NASM 2019-2020 Handbook. Includes the Constitution, Bylaws, Code of Ethics, Rules of Practice and Procedure, and Standards for Accreditation.

NASM Notices Pertaining to COVID-19

Professional Development Opportunities

Attending to the provisions of its aims and objectives, in addition to the service of accreditation provided by NASM and its Policy Studies and Institutional Research initiatives, NASM offers various Professional Development opportunities. Listed below are topic- and accreditation-focused sessions and presentations to be conducted via various electronic means.

Topic-Focused Sessions

Topic-focused sessions are available to representatives of accredited institutions of NASM, members of ICFAD, and those interested in the topic area. Registration is required.


The novel coronavirus is unquestionably serious and deadly, as of this writing, with more than 14 million cases reported worldwide and over 600,000 deaths. The spread of SARS-CoV-2 appears to occur through the emission of large and small droplets that are deposited on surfaces and released into the air, the latter of which (defined as aerosols) can hang and circulate in the air for hours while remaining infectious. Aerosols are emitted from the human respiratory tract through normal breathing, forced-air breathing (as during exercise or the playing of wind instruments), speaking, singing, coughing, and sneezing. It would appear that the smallest aerosols may be inhaled into the lungs and could lead to more serious disease, such as pneumonia, respiratory distress syndrome, and sepsis. Unfortunately, infected individuals are not always symptomatic and could pose a risk to others in artistic settings.

Within the performing arts, it has been reported that COVID-19 has spread during choral rehearsals, resulting in a majority of participants being infected; several of these cases even led to death. Due to the surmounting unknowns and the continued spread of the virus, collegiate arts programs are facing challenges as they are called upon to adapt and resume operations. Given the methods of transmission of COVID-19, it is appropriate to ask what risks instructors, students, and administrators in the arts disciplines are likely to face. For example, how should choral and wind-music settings be managed, noting that these two activities require deep breathing and result in the subsequent dispersion of bioaerosols? Are theatre students endangering their surrounding colleagues if they are required to vocalize often and/or loudly? Are dance studios large enough to dissipate bioaerosols during rehearsals? Are music practice rooms safe for more than one individual? How many individuals can be accommodated safely in a particular studio setting? How can accommodations be made for those involved, especially individuals who, if infected, may be at a higher risk for health complications?

This series will follow several current and ongoing scientific studies. As we begin, the sessions are anticipated to be offered during a six-month period beginning in August of 2020 and will align with the availability of salient findings from the studies. Individuals conducting the studies with expertise in bioaerosol emissions and related fields will lead the sessions. The presenters will seek to provide information addressing questions such as: What is the rate (and size) of bioaerosol emitted by performers of varying age and gender when engaging in arts activities, and why is this important to know? How effective are active and passive control measures at reducing bioaerosol emissions and exposures, measures such as isolation and distancing, room ventilation and filtration, respirator and mask use, and use of personal protective equipment. Can the risks of co-exposure be reduced to levels which allow operations to continue using these active and passive controls?

Additionally, presenters will explore ways in which arts administrators might approach, consider, and determine the amount, completeness, and accuracy of information being disseminated at the present time, and ensure the possession of credible information that will have a reasonable shelf life and assist to provide guidance to an institution crafting an ongoing plan of action.

Time for questions will be provided.

Presenters: Shelly Miller, University of Colorado Boulder
Donald Milton, University of Maryland
John Volckens, Colorado State University
Moderator: Daniel Goble, Colorado State University

Date: August 21, 2020
Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m. ET
Click here to view Donald Milton’s slides from this session
Click here to view John Volckens’s slides from this session
Click here to view Shelly Miller’s slides from this session


Shelly L. Miller is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and a faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Engineering program at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her current research projects include designing engineering controls for improving indoor environmental quality, association of coarse particles with health effects in urban and rural areas, characterization of indoor environmental quality, characterizing ultrafine particles that penetrate into mechanically ventilated buildings, understanding the microbiology of the built environment, and studying how HVAC systems play a role in infectious disease transmission. Dr. Miller received a Ph.D. degree and Master of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics from Harvey Mudd College.

Donald Milton is a Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Maryland (UMD) School of Public Health, with a secondary appointment in the UMD School of Medicine. He is board certified in Internal and Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which includes more than twenty years of experience in environmental and occupational medicine referral practice. His research interests and projects include the interrelated areas of infectious bioaerosols, exhaled breath analysis, and development and application of innovative methods for respiratory epidemiology. He has served on editorial boards for the publications Applied Environmental Microbiology, Indoor Air, and BMC Public Health; additionally, he served as a chair for the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists’ Bioaerosols Committee. Dr. Milton received a Ph.D. degree and a Master of Health degree in Environmental Health from Harvard University, a Doctor of Medicine degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County.

John Volckens is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University (CSU), where he also directs the Center for Energy Development and Health. His research interests involve combustion science, aerosol technology, and air pollution-related disease. He is a co-founder of the CSU Partnership for Air Quality, Climate, and Health, as well as Access Sensor Technologies. He has published over 100 manuscripts related to exposure science, aerosol technology, and air pollution-related disease. In March 2020, the CSU lab began serving as the respirator performance testing center for the Colorado COVID-19 Response Task Force. Dr. Volckens earned a Ph.D. degree and a Master of Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil/Environmental Engineering from the University of Vermont.

Please note: The information provided in this session is not intended to (a) suggest, provide, or impose definitive solutions to specific challenges faced by schools, rather it is provided to expand understandings as school representatives consider options associated with current school realities and anticipated possibilities, or (b) represent required accreditation standards, guidelines, or procedures.


Now more than ever, administrators encounter a number of scenarios rife with risk. If left unresolved, these scenarios can result in undesirable and/or dire consequences. At the local level they may pertain to student and faculty wellness or resource management; at the institutional level, administrative support; at the state level, funding; at the national level, communicable disease; and at the federal level, the imposition of law, guidelines, and regulation. Administrators by fiat have become managers of realities, and therefore, of threats, liabilities, and risks.

Before considering options or making decisions , it is important to recognize several key factors, such as a) factual and scientifically-verified information is a critical aspect in the decision-making process, b) solutions and action plans must be tailored to individual institutions, and c) based on the pressures placed on arts administrators to come to swift and effective resolution, risk is inherent. Thus, to successfully mitigate for risk, there must be a consideration of local conditions and realities, since what works for an institution in one region may not be the best solution for an institution in another. A review of all options available and a willingness to stack these options as necessary to find a combination that addresses institutional challenges is also key to risk mitigation. Familiarity with laws, regulations, guidelines, and legal vernacular can also often help administrators avoid problematic situations that can put individuals or an institution as a whole at risk. In addition, once a well-conceived action plan––one that has considered the risks inherent in each of the moving parts––has been adopted, it may be important to consider developing plans that address how information will be documented and disseminated to students, faculty, staff, parents, and the public.

Attendees will consider the anticipated fallout from known and projected events related to the novel coronavirus. They will explore options that may be beneficial to consider in the short and long term. Participants will explore ways in which administrators can prepare for tomorrow, build portfolios of viable options that are informed by reliable information and local conditions, and become more deeply aware of how to actively watch for, consider, and manage the ongoing challenge of risk mitigation and management. Time for questions will be provided.

Presenters: Kevin Case, Case Arts Law LLC
Peter Chin-Hong, University of California, San Francisco
Adam Schwalje, University of Iowa
Moderator: Thomas Webster, East Texas Baptist University

Date: August 17, 2020
Time: 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET
Click here to view slides from this session


Kevin Case is the founder and Principal of Case Arts Law LLC, a legal firm that represents musicians and artists nationwide in labor and employment matters, including the drafting and negotiation of collective bargaining agreements and individual employment contracts on behalf of symphony and opera musicians. Since 2015, he has served as General Counsel to the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM). A seasoned litigator, Mr. Case has broad-based experience advising clients in cases involving employment discrimination, employee discipline and discharge, non-competition and other restrictive covenants, and personal injury. Mr. Case, a violinist, symphonic musician and graduate of the Eastman School of Music, has held orchestral positions across the United States. Mr. Case graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he served as Executive Articles Editor for the Chicago-Kent Law Review.

Peter Chin-Hong is a Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Regional Campuses at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he directs the immunocompromised host infectious diseases program. He specializes in treating infectious diseases, particularly infections that develop in patients who have suppressed immune systems and donor-derived infections in transplant recipients. A medical educator, he was the inaugural holder of the Academy of Medical Educators Endowed Chair for Innovation in Teaching. Dr. Chin-Hong earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown University before completing an internal medicine residency and infectious diseases fellowship at UCSF.

Adam Schwalje is a resident physician and National Institutes of Health T32 research fellow in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. A bassoonist, Dr. Schwalje was a band teacher and music educator before receiving a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He is currently the medical liaison for the International Double Reed Society. Dr. Schwalje completed his medical training at the University of California, San Francisco.


Institutions of higher learning receiving federal financial assistance are bound to adhere to the provisions of Title IX, a law first introduced in 1972 as an amendment to the Higher Education Act which states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial aid.” The provisions of this law and its application have been under scrutiny for the last several years. In September of 2017, the Department of Education (a) rolled back Title IX guidance, specifically provisions included in the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter and the 2014 Question and Answer set, (b) issued interim guidance pertaining to Title IX, and (c) published notice of its intent to renegotiate current regulations through the process known as Negotiated Rulemaking. Before the comment-period deadline in early 2019, the Department of Education received over 100,000 comments; subsequently, the Department issued a final rule in May 2020, the provisions of which go into effect August 14, 2020.

Such actions and activities affect institutions directly, and therefore raise questions such as: What should institutions be doing to prepare for what lies ahead? What training, staffing, and policy initiatives must be enacted during this period of change? What impact will new regulations have on various campus practices? What are the implications of the final rule on institutional reporting responsibilities, and on how institutions must address student issues and needs? In an effort to advance awareness of Title IX and its provisions, the session presenter will address key factors and delve deeply into the results of the recent negotiations and rulemaking. Additionally, a portion of time will be devoted to the review of case studies intended to assist participants to develop an expanded understanding of current revisions and interpretations of the guidance in force at this time.

Time for questions and discussion will be provided.

Presenter: Deborah L. Brake, University of Pittsburgh
Moderator: Michael Wilder, Wheaton College

Date: October 2, 2020
Time: 1:00-3:00 p.m. ET
Click here to view slides from this session


Deborah L. Brake is Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, John E. Murray Faculty Scholar, and Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches Constitutional Law, Employment Discrimination, and Gender and the Law. She is a nationally recognized scholar on gender equality and the law, with expertise in Title IX and athletics, sexual harassment and sexual violence, employment discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and retaliation. She is a co-author of the 8th edition of Gender and Law: Theory, Doctrine, Commentary, as well as the author of Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women’s Sports Revolution. Her articles have been published in journals such as the Georgetown Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, William and Mary Law Review, North Carolina Law Review, Indiana Law Journal, and the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender. Her scholarly work has twice been cited in U.S. Supreme Court opinions and she has testified before Congress in both the House and the Senate. Before going into academia, she was senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. Ms. Brake received a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Stanford University.


Administrators today are responsible for an expanding number of issues, events, and activities, all of which require the need to develop and possess a level of expertise in areas that range from curricular design to building operation to fundraising and advocacy, to name only a few. As expected, these growing responsibilities result in not only an increase in the number of issues that arrive on an administrator’s desk, but in a broadening of their variety, intensity, and level of difficulty. The start of a successful strategic plan, therefore, often rests on the ability to define and diagnose the type of problems faced, which includes: a thoughtful consideration of social, emotional, and political conditions; a search for valid, salient information; the use of data; a depth of understanding of the inner workings of complex systems; and an acknowledgement of the individuals and constituencies that may be affected. Thus, strategic thinking that can deepen understandings and result in carefully considered and effective decision-making processes is of vital importance in establishing and maintaining the viability of any administrative unit.

While the time spent developing and implementing a strategic plan may seem ambitious and time consuming, it is likely that a framed approach may become embedded quickly in the day-to-day activities and decision-making taking place––a way of thinking that organically takes hold and results in broader consideration of the realities faced by the academy today. Crafting an approach that is guided by artistically centered, intellectual thinking tested against serious and informed considerations in light of current facts, realities, reasonable possibilities, and long-standing practices, may be well-worth the journey. Even such, the making of a decision does not ensure that its application will always apply. The world is in flux, and decision-making is an ongoing process that may need to produce ever-changing outcomes. Certain decisions may need to be made that ensure future decision-making considerations, thereby building strategic thinking into the process as a whole.

What roles do uncertainty, exploration, and the wisdom of others play in any decision-making process? How can processes include a thorough enough consideration of options, probabilities, and pay offs? How can local conditions impact issue-specific decisions? How can administrators develop their strategic thinking methods in ways that move the unit’s and the institution’s initiatives forward in complementary fashions? What are the possible pitfalls and distractions which may be encountered? How can barriers be circumvented, and who can assist in this endeavor? What does it mean for a strategic plan to be well-conceived? How might the implementation of a plan help to engage those who are immediately impacted? How can upper administrators serve as mentors to their colleagues, thus ensuring that strategic thinking, understanding of complexity, and context-driven decision making remains an important tenet of the arts unit during times of transition or changes in leadership? What are methods of conceptualizing the relationship between the decisions of upper administration, state governments, and the federal government? If no action is taken, what is likely to prevail?

This session will serve to assist attendees to expand the tools in their strategic thinking toolkit and aims to leave administrators with a set of ideas, concepts, and action steps needed to implement a well-conceived plan.

Time for questions will be provided.

Presenter: Scott E. Page, University of Michigan
Moderator: David Gier, University of Michigan

Date: August 18, 2020
Time: 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET
Click here to view slides from this session


Scott E. Page is the John Seely Brown Distinguished University Professor of Complexity, Social Science, and Management at the University of Michigan. His research, accounted for in five books, focuses on the myriad roles that diversity plays in complex systems, the application of models to makes sense of complexity, and complexity theory. Additionally, he has published papers in a variety of disciplines including economics, political science, computer science, management, physics, public health, geography, urban planning, engineering, and history. In 2011, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Page received a Ph.D. degree in Managerial Economics and Decisions Sciences and a Master of Science degree in Business from Northwestern University, a Master of Arts degree in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from the University of Michigan.

Accreditation-Focused Sessions

Accreditation-focused sessions are available only to representatives of accredited institutional members of NASM. Registration is required.


Under the law, the federal government does not control higher education. However, the federal government does play a major role in developing conditions for the work of higher education, primarily through laws and regulations defining conditions for institutional participation in grant and student loan programs, and tax policies that influence economic conditions affecting education and the arts. Following a brief introduction to the higher education and policy landscapes, this session will address the current political climate; various pressures on institutions; and current and prospective federal policies, laws, and regulations affecting higher education and the arts. This briefing will take a non-partisan policy analysis approach, looking at the ramifications and costs of various options and probabilities.

Presenter: Paul Florek, NASM National Office

Date: October 22, 2020
Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET
Click here to view slides from this session


This briefing is offered by invitation for individuals currently trained and serving as NASM visiting evaluators and consultants. It provides an opportunity for evaluators and consultants to refresh their knowledge of NASM procedures, protocols, and standards, with particular focus on the Procedures and the Handbook. Helpful reminders regarding the format, preparation, and required content of Visitors’ Reports will be provided. The potential impact of the activities of external constituencies, such as the federal government, states, and other review bodies, which may affect the accreditation process, will be discussed. Documentation required of institutions and evaluators will be highlighted, as well as sources and uses of helpful and informative publications aimed to assist institutions in the preparation of Self-Studies and evaluators and consultants in the preparation of Reports. (Please note: Individuals interested in becoming NASM evaluators are encouraged to contact the National Office staff for consideration for training in 2021.)

Presenter: Karen P. Moynahan, NASM National Office

Date: October 7, 2020
Time: 3:00-4:15 p.m. ET


From time to time, member and potential member institutions of NASM must submit materials that will be reviewed by either the Commission on Accreditation or the Commission on Community College Accreditation, the Association’s accreditation decision-making bodies. These Commissions are responsible for ascertaining an institution’s current and projected compliance with applicable standards. This includes consideration of an institution’s short-term solutions and long-term plans. This session will offer an overview of the Commissions’ roles within the accreditation review process and will provide some helpful hints and tips for creating, writing, and submitting materials to the Commissions. Documents to be discussed include the Self-Study, the institution’s Optional Response to the Visitors’ Report, Responses, Progress Reports, and applications for Plan Approval and Final Approval for Listing. The mandatory and effective use of the NASM Handbook in preparing submissions will be discussed.

Presenters: Calvin Hofer, Colorado Mesa University
Ronda M. Mains, University of Arkansas
Moderator: Paul Florek, NASM National Office

Date: September 18, 2020
Time: 2:00-3:15 p.m. ET
Click here to view slides from this session


This session will provide an in-depth review of procedures for online submission of the HEADS Data Survey for degree-granting institutions. A section-by-section overview of the Survey will explain in detail the Survey submission process, types of data collected, and suggested collection mechanisms.

Presenter: Nora R. Hamme, NASM National Office

Date: December 9, 2020
Time: 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET
Click here to register

This workshop will be repeated on January 13, 2021. Registration for the January session will open after conclusion of the December session.


The institutional research data gathered and compiled by the Higher Education Arts Data Services project constitute a unique and valuable resource for music executives at degree-granting institutions. This session will highlight many of the ways the data can be used to assist, support, and possibly guide local planning, conversations, and decision-making. The session will offer a detailed overview of statistics contained in the HEADS Data Summaries (the aggregate reports compiled annually from HEADS Data Surveys), and the use of HEADS Data Summaries and Special Reports for comparison among specific peer institutions. In addition, participants will also learn how to create longitudinal reports, and consider together how such reports can be used to capture, analyze, and present available data in ways which may convincingly support music unit initiatives.

Presenter: Nora R. Hamme, NASM National Office

Date: September 23, 2020
Time: 2:30-3:30 p.m. ET
Click here to view slides from this session


This session will provide information and guidance concerning the self-study and visitation processes for individuals whose institutions are (a) scheduled to be visited in the next two years, (b) planning to begin the NASM evaluation process, (c) formally engaged in the process, or (d) contemplating the submission of original applications for accreditation. A step-by-step walk-through of the nuts-and-bolts of the accreditation process will be provided, including confirmation of timelines and deadlines, and information regarding accreditation procedures, Self-Study formats, on-site reviews, the Visitors’ Report, the Optional Response, and Commission action. All three Self-Study formats (A, B, and C) will be discussed. Participants are encouraged to have in hand a copy of the current NASM Handbook.

Presenter: Nora R. Hamme, NASM National Office

Date: September 11, 2020
Time: 12:00-4:00 p.m. ET
Click here to view slides from this session

Accreditation-Focused Presentations

Accreditation-focused presentations are available for viewing on the NASM website at the addresses noted below.

Accreditation Audit and Affirmation Statement Questionnaire Instructions Presentation (Accreditation Audit, Affirmation Statement Questionnaire)

This presentation will outline the annual reporting responsibilities of accredited institutional members of NASM. An overview of the purpose of each reporting requirement will be provided as will step-by-step instructions and information pertaining to submission timelines for two of the four reporting requirements – the Accreditation Audit and the Affirmation Statement Questionnaire.

Other Resources of Note

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Federal Government

Department of Education (ED)

  • Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE): Guidance for Interruptions of Study Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) (March 13, 2020, April 3, 2020, May 15, 2020). For those institutions participating in federal financial aid programs, these three documents offer guidelines which address issues such as the movement from on ground to online learning platforms, federal work-study programs, modifications to the length of an academic year, changes in student enrollment status, the stewardship of Title IV funds, and institutional reporting responsibilities. Institutions designating NASM as their gatekeeper for the purpose of participation in federal aid programs should note that distance education is included in NASM’s scope of recognition as approved and listed by the U.S. Secretary of Education.
  • Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE): Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Reporting-Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students (May 6). Outlines reporting requirements noted in Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) as related to funds available for distribution to students as provided for in the CARES Act.
  • Student Private Policy Office (SPPO): FERPA and Virtual Learning Related Resources (March 2020). SPPO has identified resources that discuss virtual learning, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). These resources include toolkits, letters, and Q&As on information security best practices, the use of the school official exception under FERPA, classroom observations, and the use of emails, videos, and other virtual learning tools. SPPO has also issued a FERPA and COVID-19 FAQ on the health or safety emergency exception under FERPA at For additional resources on FERPA, please review SPPO’s website at

Department of Labor (DOL)

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released on March 9, 2020 a document entitled, Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, which provides assistance to employers as they plan for and respond to workplace risks.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Information of Interest