ECE celebrates 40 years!

The Beginnings

In the early hours of a November morning in 1980, Jim Frey woke up with change on his mind. The world was changing, and his work life was changing too. It was time for a new path for international admissions and credential evaluation.  Jim wrote up the paperwork to establish Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. (ECE).  A new approach to serving the international education public was launched.

Jim Frey organizing the ECE® library in the early years
Jim Frey organizing the ECE® reference library in the early years

Jim’s vision for a new type of service was based on his experience in helping to shape the field of international credential evaluation. While working at Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Indiana University, the Fulbright Commission in Japan, and at a nonprofit evaluation service, Jim had poured his off-hour efforts into growing the field of credential evaluation as a volunteer leader at NAFSA and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO).  As an internationally recognized expert in the field, he wanted to serve both students educated in other countries and international admissions professionals around the world.

Quality service

The ECE® way is exemplified by quality of research; transparency, professionalism, and kindness in transactions and operations; and generosity in sharing information and best practices.

Jim knew that his colleagues around the world who worked in applied comparative education, international admissions, and credential evaluation needed high-quality and reliable resources.  People working in government agencies and licensing boards required training in how to assess international educational documents.  People crossing borders were relying on dedicated professionals to ensure that their education was fairly and properly assessed so that they could fulfill their dreams and potential.  The general public benefited from the services of immigrants who were vetted and prepared to enter professions key to the health, safety, and welfare of society.

ECE has addressed these needs by an expanded offering of foreign credential evaluation reports, training services, and resources for the international credential evaluation profession.  As a nonprofit organization, ECE has grown to be a trusted and reliable partner and provider for those involved in international education.

Jim Frey proudly poses in front of ECE® library at current location in the former Schlitz Brewery complex
Jim Frey proudly poses in front of ECE® library at current location in the former Schlitz Brewery complex

Continuing the vision

Much has changed in our world since 1980 – politics, technology, economies, education – these have all undergone monumental transformations.  Two things have not changed.  First, people continue to move to new countries in search of educational, economic, political, social, and personal changes and opportunities.  Second, expertise in understanding and interpreting educational systems around the world to serve people crossing borders continues to increase.

Forty years after its founding, ECE is fulfilling Jim’s original vision with traditional credential evaluation services, training, and resources.  The foundation that Jim provided has now been enhanced with innovative and creative services and approaches to meeting the needs of the global public.  Digital transfer of data, remote training opportunities, immediate web-based access to information, and modularization of offerings are some of the ways that ECE is serving the wider international education community in new way.

ECE® staff at the 2019 AACRAO conference in Los Angeles, CA

The new generation of ECE® credential evaluation professionals are employing techniques and accessing information in ways that were unimaginable 40 years ago.  Likewise, client demands for efficiency and speed have aligned with the organization’s desire to provide comprehensive and meaningful support to both learners and institutional clients.  These have resulted in industry-leading speed in preparing reports with unmatched quality and accuracy.  ECE received a 95% customer satisfaction rating in a recent survey.

The ECE® community continues to search for ways to expand access to high-quality credential evaluation and assessment.  Through its ECE® Aid charitable initiative, refugees and others in need are provided with no-cost credential evaluations. ECE works with other organizations to identify those in need.  Participating organizations include colleges, universities, refugee resettlement agencies, nonprofit organizations, and others working with foreign-educated people.

International atmosphere is present at every corner of ECE® offices
International atmosphere is present at every corner of ECE® offices

Partners in the profession

In keeping with Jim’s example of volunteering and leadership, current ECE® staff remain actively engaged in professional activities that support and further the profession of international credential evaluation.  NAFSA: Association of International Educators, The Association for International Credential Evaluation Professionals (TAICEP), the European Association for International Education (EAIE), and the Groningen Declaration Network (GDN) are some of the groups that count ECE® professionals as their volunteer leaders.

As staff, board members, and other friends celebrate ECE’s 40th year, we look forward to continued service to international students and learners, educational institutions, and professionals who serve people who move across borders.  The greater good achieved by fair, accurate, and high-quality assessment of educational documents will continue to remain at the forefront of all that we do.

Margit Schatzman has been involved in international admissions and credential evaluation for over 30 years. She began at ECE in 1983 as an Evaluator. In 1985 she became Vice President. She has been president of ECE since January 1, 2007. She is a frequent speaker at U.S. and international conferences on topics such as credential evaluation principles and methods, and falsified and altered documents. 

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