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Apr 1, 2010 12:00 AM


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Accreditation is a major issue in higher education today. School administrators, graphic communications professionals and the general public are all demanding quality when it comes to instructional programs. Unbiased external eyes — provided by both graphic communications educators and industry leaders — can provide these constituencies proof that their programs are excellent, or are in need of change.

One of the most fulfilling parts of the accreditation process is helping struggling programs improve. We have had a few cases in which programs did not have the backing they required from administration and industry. Our accrediting team members noted those deficiencies, and higher administration listened.

Speaking personally, the ACCGC accreditation process was one of the most beneficial experiences of my 35-year academic career. It allowed my colleagues and me to focus on what's really important — what our students really need to learn — and how to evaluate our success. Our team leader, Illinois State University's Dr. Dan Wilson, was instrumental in helping us focus on process improvement. I can unequivocally say that our Digital Media program is better than ever as a result of the ACCGC accreditation process.

A winner in Wisconsin

Last year, a team of three experts — two from education and one from industry — conducted a site visit as part of an ACCGC review to assess the University of Wisconsin-Stout's (www.uwstout.edu) Graphic Communications Management program. The school also conducted an extensive self-study, and received its national accreditation in September 2009.

The team, consisting of Thomas Bell (Millersville University), Patrick Klarecki (Ferris State University), and Rebecca Miller (Quad/Graphics), rated the Stout program on ACCGC's standards: Mission Statements and Curricular Outcomes; Competency Identification and Assessment; Governance/Administration; Financial Support; Equipment and Facilities; Staff Support Services; Curriculum, Instruction and Evaluation; Internships/Practicums/Cooperative Study; Industry Advisory Committee(s); Faculty; Faculty Evaluation; Student Records and Advising; and Graduate Placement and Follow-up.

The team determined that Stout's Graphic Communications Management program met or exceeded the standards in all categories. In their “Visitation Team Report,” the team stated, “The Graphic Communications Management (GCM) faculty maintains high quality instruction. They are responsible for generating appropriate content, syllabi and reference material. The GCM faculty utilizes a number of instructional delivery techniques and embraces the UW-Stout tradition of ‘hands-on, minds-on’ experiential learning. Current students, as well as alumni, hold the program faculty in high regard.”

“It is always very affirming to have people you respect recognize the strengths of your program just as it is valuable to receive their suggestions and recommendations for improvement,” says Dr. Ted M. Bensen, professor and program director, University of Wisconsin-Stout. “We believe the visiting team did a very thorough job of evaluating our program and they produced some insightful observations. Even the reflection necessary in preparing the program self-study produced a great sense of self-awareness among our faculty and staff. This has helped us look to the future with enthusiasm.”

This issue, Dr. Jerry Waite, professor of digital media for the University of Houston College of Technology (www.digitalmedia.tech.uh.edu), shares some news from the Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications (www.accgc.org), a national organization for which he serves as president. Contact Waite at jjwaite@central.uh.edu.

Calling all future printers

The Electronic Document Systems Foundation (EDSF) is accepting scholarship applications through May 3, 2010. The January/February 2010 edition of the EDSF Report features Jason Landrum, a Hoods Memorial Scholarship student attending Pittsburg State University (www.pittstate.edu). He says, “I am extremely blessed to be awarded the Hoods Memorial Scholarship. Knowing the industry is behind me and willing to support me financially means so much. This generous scholarship encourages me in preparing for a bright future and allows me to put a stronger focus on my education, rather than how to pay for it.”

See www.edsf.org.

On a mission

The mission of the Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications (ACCGC) (www.accgc.org) is to provide accreditation standards that promote and encourage collegiate-level educational programs in graphic communications. It accredits college and university programs at the baccalaureate and associate levels.

Ferris State University and Florida A&M University were the first institutions to be granted program accreditation by the ACCGC. Currently, there are six accredited programs: California University of Pennsylvania, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (CA), Ferris State University (MI), Florida A&M University, Pennsylvania College of Technology, and University of Wisconsin-Stout. Accrediting teams visited New York City College of Technology and University of Houston last fall and, if all goes well, those schools will achieve ACCGC accreditation in September.