Story by Yashowanto Ghosh, Reporter
Photo by Yashowanto Ghosh
As of this month, if you look up accredited institutions on the National Association of Schools of Music’s website (NASM), you will see a new name: Aquinas College. We have never been NASM-accredited before. We talked to Professor Barbara McCargar, Chair of the Music Department, and found out how and why we are there now.
McCargar said a sizeable number of students who are serious about studying music tend to check for NASM accreditation when choosing a college to attend. Six hundred and forty-five colleges in all have the accreditation at the moment, so having the accreditation helps us be competitive when we recruit students.
In order to get the accreditation, McCargar submitted a self-study to the NASM early in January last year—she said the self-study was really a college-wide effort, with crucial contribution from not only the entire music department but also numerous other departments and staff from all over the campus. Then, in February, two visiting evaluators came to campus and thoroughly inspected the details of our program. They even attended one of the bi-weekly Music Applied class performances. The NASM had its annual meeting in November, where the Commission on Accreditation formally voted us in.
But what criteria did we have to fulfill in order to make the cut? We were graded on several things, such as our facilities and holdings, having qualified faculty, and offering quality classes. McCargar said we got very high marks on facilities and holdings, and that it is a stroke of good luck that we are located in Grand Rapids because we get a lot of highly qualified faculty who already live nearby and are willing to come teach at Aquinas.
McCargar said that, as a newly accredited school, our initial accreditation is good for five years. After that, we will have to submit a second self-study and be inspected by visiting evaluators a second time in order to get accredited for the next five years. But after the third time that we make the cut, we will get accreditation for 10 years at a time.
A final criterion is that an accredited program must have at least 25 enrolled majors. So, in case you are considering majoring in music but have not declared yet, do go ahead and sign up sooner rather than later.