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ACAE in Summary: Interview with Doris Gordon

ACAE in Summary: Interview with Doris Gordon

June 10, 2009 Interviews

Douglas L. Beck, AuD, speaks with Doris Gordon, executive director of the Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE).

Academy: Hi, Doris, good to speak with you again.

Gordon: Hi, Doug. Thanks. Good to be with you, too.

Academy: Doris, I know you’ve been managing the ACAE for a few years now, and I know how hard it is starting a new organization! So let’s start with a basic review of how you came to be the executive director, and then we’ll chat about where we are and where we’re going, with regard to the ACAE.

Gordon: Very good. Well, as you may recall, Doug, I earned two degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (BS/MS) and one from Yale University’s School of Public Health (MPH). My experience in accreditation activities prior to ACAE ranged from development of self-study opportunities to development and implementation of national and international standards for various associations, colleges, and universities.

Academy: Excellent, and when did you join ACAE?

Gordon: I started in January 2003, so it’s been six and a half years now!

Academy: Doris, what is the exact purpose, or perhaps the goal, of the ACAE?

Gordon: The purpose is to disseminate a 21st century accreditation process that evaluates academic programs with rigorous standards in such a way as to help programs improve and succeed. In brief, our task is to recognize, reinforce, and promote high-quality education and performance across all AuD programs.

Academy: How many programs are up and running across the United States?

Gordon: In 2009, there are between 71 and 74 doctoral audiology programs in the United States.

Academy: And as best I recall, there are two programs that have completed the ACAE accreditation process, and a few others in the pipeline?

Gordon: Yes, exactly right. Central Michigan University and Washington University have gone through the process and have completed it, so those two are indeed ACAE accredited. There are another four in the pipeline at this moment, and in fact, three of them have recently been awarded grants as a result of ACAE receiving funds from the American Academy of Audiology Foundation (AAAF). A grant of $5,000 each will be applied to the ACAE application fee, which is 50 percent of the fee.

Academy: Wow. That’s a very nice donation from the AAAF.

Gordon: Yes, that was very generous of the AAAF. As you know Doug, it took a few years from concept to implementation, and so the ACAE program itself has really only been able to accept applications since 2007. We wanted to be sure that when we started and made the Web-based tools available, that it would be maximally efficient.

In the end, it surpassed our expectations. As you can imagine, building a Web-based program from step one takes time, expertise, and commitment, and it literally took years to get where we are, but it’s been worth it.

Academy: And I know the data you’re collecting from the participating AuD programs will eventually be the largest data base and information source for audiology programs in the United States.

Gordon: Yes. You’re right. We have the basic foundation in place, we’re ready to start evaluating additional programs and the future looks very good as more and more of the programs look to the ACAE as an audiology-based and audiology-centric accrediting body. Unfortunately, in the current economic climate, some of the programs that have expressed interest haven’t yet been able to participate for financial reasons, but I’m confident that they will participate as we continue to expand and as they start to budget for their ACAE participation.

Academy: So besides the obvious gaining of accreditation through an audiology-based accrediting body, what other benefits does ACAE accreditation provide?

Gordon: The ACAE process allows programs to have benchmarks and opportunities for self-evaluation and growth. In our Computerized Accreditation Program (CAP), there’s automatic access to current and historical data, an ability to enter data into the system once, update as necessary and have permanent access to it. There’s an ability to provide national analyses and trends and an assurance to the public that programs have been evaluated through a rigorous verification process. Once a program has gone through the process, they clearly begin to see their multiple benefits and advantages.

We also integrated an interactive partnership between site evaluators and academic programs into CAP and this provides critical dialogue and interaction prior to a physical on-site visit. It’s a true cooperative relationship with programs, resulting in improved outcomes for students and the teaching environment.

Academy: Thanks, Doris. I appreciate your time.

Gordon: Thank you, too, Doug.

Doris Gordon, MPH, is the executive director of ACAE. Learn more about ACAE at

Douglas L. Beck, AuD, Board Certified in Audiology, is the Web content editor for the American Academy of Audiology.

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