After an exhaustive year-long process, the University of Washington Tacoma’s Milgard School of Business has received reaccreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Founded in 1916, AACSB International is the longest-serving global accrediting body for business schools that offer undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in business and accounting. Fewer than five percent of the world’s business programs have earned accreditation through the AACSB.
Accreditation is a widely used term in higher education but what exactly does it mean? “It’s a signal that this is a program with a clear purpose and a clear mission,” said Dr. Jill Purdy, associate professor of management at the Milgard School, currently serving as interim dean. Purdy compared accreditation to labeling found on certain products. In order to be considered non-GMO or gluten-free, producers and manufacturers must adhere to a set of standards. The same is true of business education.
The process involves a comprehensive examination of a school’s mission, faculty qualifications, and curricula. A self-assessment is included as are peer and committee reviews. “We set our learning goals and the AACSB holds us accountable,” says Purdy. For the Milgard School this means cultivating students that are good strategic thinkers who have strong quantitative skills and are global citizens.
The Milgard School keeps track of these benchmarks through data that is collected on a quarterly basis. The information is gleaned by sampling a particular class. “If your class is supposed to be building communication skills then let’s go in and see one of the assessments you use in your class and evaluate how well students are doing,” said Purdy.
This year marks the first time the Milgard School received reaccreditation separate from the Foster and UW Bothell schools of business. In previous years all three schools were jointly accredited as the University of Washington. “This is a turning point for the Milgard School,” said Don Clark, president of Sound Credit Union and a member of the Milgard School Advisory Board. “We have in the greater Tacoma community a world-class business school whose core mission is to take raw talent and mold it into civic-minded, ethical, and thoughtful leaders.”
With accreditation comes benefits that help an institution better serve students, faculty, staff, and community. “The AACSB is terrific to be a part of because members share data and best practices with each other,” says Purdy. This information allows the Milgard School to see what’s working in business schools around the world including universities of the same size and resources. “It’s great to be able to look at our peers and see what’s possible,” said Purdy.
The reaccreditation process is also a good way of finding out what can be improved. Reviewers solicit feedback from all of the major stakeholders in an effort to understand what is and isn’t working. “It’s really a terrific process because as you move forward you hope you’re always paying attention,” said Purdy. “You really want to have a 360 degree view from everyone who as an interest.”
The Milgard School will be up for reaccreditation again in five years. Purdy believes the process is a valuable tool, one that has been used to help the school grow both now and in the future.
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org