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AAHEA History


American Association for Higher Education (AAHEA) is the oldest non-profit association in the United States dedicated to the advancement of higher education.

The AAHEA history began in 1870 when the National Education Association established a department of higher education. AAHE was incorporated as a self-governing, non-profit organization in the District of Columbia in March 1969.

The AAHE department of NEA was disbanded in 1924, then reactivated in 1945. In 1958 the department was renamed The Association for Higher Education. In 1968, the NEA voted to move into collective bargaining. The higher education department in turn voted to become an "NEA associated organization." In February 1969 the NEA Board voted not to support the new associated organization and in March 1969 a group of 300 members of the department pledged to take out life memberships in what was now being called AAHE, to raise funds so the department could continue as an independent organization.

AAHE flourished and became recognized as a prestigious, scholarly and highly respected institution that provided research, guidance and knowledge to devoted educators in the USA and around the world. AAHE publications and expertise were regarded as state of the art statements of best practices.

In May of 2005, the AAHE president, Clara Lovett, faced a complicated set of circumstances in which the association was mired in a temporary slump. (Most non-profits experience periodic downturns). However, the president and the board determined to disband and essentially “walk away” despite yearly revenues as healthy as $7.5 million annually. AAHE was idle for a short time but was soon reinvigorated by a team of voting members who honored the rich history of the association by working without pay to ensure that this prestigious and exemplary organization would continue. Especially valued were the hundreds of excellent books and thousands of leading publications. AAHE was universally acknowledged as the best source of knowledge of higher education and as a leader in the accreditation field. These voting members determined they could not allow this esteemed organization to become dormant or cease to operate.

Corporate law in DC, and the by-laws of AAHE, require a majority vote from the voting members of a non-profit membership organization in order to close it. The abdication of the president and board left almost 10,000 paid members disadvantaged. Controvery and anger arose as some of these dues paying members felt that they “were left holding the bag or cheated out of their contributions”. The laws allowed the activist voting members who legally constituted the organization, to assume operational authority.

The organization recovery team consisted of a group of very distinguished individuals including; MD's, PhD's, a dean of a very distinguished college, teachers, professors and business leaders. They collaborated to rescue this esteemed and prestigious organization. Millions of people had come to rely upon and value AAHE, and this vital American resource was preserved by these dedicated professionals.

In February 2007, the name was changed to AAHEA, The American Association For Higher Education and Accreditation, to better reflect its expanded mission.

Important developments occur each year, including:

  • educator of the year awards
  • several new disciplines and departments including:
    • Law Enforcement
    • Alternative Health
    • Mental Health, and
    • a Department of Health
  • an interactive web site
  • a book store
  • restoration of the production of best practices bulletins
  • a new blog
  • a beautiful and expansive convention site in the rolling hills of North Central Florida
  • organizational offices in three states
  • accreditation expansion and acquisition of government recognition
  • non-secular and international accreditation

It is important to note that for the past 5 years no salaries have been paid. At this point, AAHEA is a labor of love conducted by a group of 20 or so. These are all very dedicated, highly educated people. They each care passionately about AAHEA as the primary source of information on education and accreditation and as the exemplary organization with an impeccable reputation and a rich history.

We invite you to join with us and our thousands of dedicated colleges, universities and their staff, our members, and this prestigious 140-year-old organization. Join and become a voting member, have a voice, and preserve this vital American educational resource, par excellence.

Given its long and sometimes, complicated history, AAHEA has in the distant and recent past been subjected to misleading commentary and misinformation from individuals with competing or personal agendas. There have been claims that the organization “went bankrupt”, closed permanently or ceased operations. One allegation specifies 2005 as the closing date. It is important to note that AAHEA as represented here is the same organization, corporation, non-profit 501-C3 with the same federal tax exempt number as the historic entity. While we cannot respond to every misguided or misleading claim made, online, in-print or in public, we have devoted ourselves to restoring the organization to its pre-eminence. We have, and will continue to, take legal action to counteract some of the most unacceptable false claims regarding AAHEA. Click here for more information and the steps we have taken to correct this.

It is also important to note that in 2005, when the board abdicated, voting members preserved AAHEA and we are also preserving their best efforts and beneficial intentions. Sadly, it must also be noted that prior to the abdication, some officers of the organization were receiving exhorbitant salaries, in one case, an estimated quarter of a million dollars per year. We are devoted to restoring financial and management best practices consistent with an eminent educational resource.