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Accreditation Pays Dividends - Three Graphic Communication Programs Benefit

Friday, January 07, 2005

Press release from the issuing company

Approximately 20 years ago at Graph Expo the seeds were planted to establish accreditation standards for Bachelor’s degree programs in graphic communication. This was in recognition of industry’s desire that college and university programs provide the level of education that produces graduates who can maintain and lead the graphic arts industry in the years ahead. In 1998 the Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications (ACCGC) was formed, and is now incorporated as an IRS-recognized non-profit 501(c)(3) publicly supported organization. Three programs have been accredited to date and others are in the review process. The three programs that have been accredited are at Ferris State University, Florida A&M University, and Cal Poly State University. By meeting or exceeding the rigid criteria for accreditation that has been established by the ACCGC, these programs have been certified as providing graphic communication education in technology and management that addresses the needs of today’s industry while turning out well informed and well educated graduates. Two additional institutions of higher education have requested an ACCGC accreditation review of their graphic communication programs to commence during 2005. At that first meeting, a GATF ad hoc committee was formed as an outgrowth of the GATF Education and Training Committee. Chaired by Dr. Erv Dennis, formerly of the University of Northern Iowa, leaders from education and industry met to discuss the need for high standards in academic programs in preparing the future human resources of the industry. For each year thereafter at Graph Expo in Chicago and the related Print Shows, the group would meet, often with new participants, to move ahead the process. In 1998 the seeds mushroomed into a viable entity and the Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications was eventually incorporated. The organization established standards for academic programs to educate students to meet the needs of industry. Dennis became the ACCGC’s first managing director and the late Richard Hannemann of California State University, Chico, became the first chair of the ACCGC board of directors. The ACCGC reviews and accredits college and university programs offering baccalaureate degrees in graphic communication and related disciplines. The mission of the ACCGC is to provide viable, credible, and defensible accreditation standards that can be used by graphic communication or related programs to strengthen them, to enhance and maintain quality of instruction, to stimulate the exchange of ideas between academia and industry, and to provide recognition to those programs that achieve and maintain acceptable standards in preparing students to enter the graphic communication profession. The profession typically includes printing, publishing, packaging, electronic and digital imaging, and related areas of the graphic arts. More specifically, the accreditation team that reviews each program looks at 14 facets of the academic unit including: Mission Statement; Goals and Objectives; Governance/Administration; Financial Support; Equipment and Facilities; Staff Support Services; Curriculum; Instruction and Evaluation; Internships/Practicums/Co-ops; Industry Advisory Committee(s); Faculty: Tenure/Tenure Track, Adjunct, and Graduate Assistants; Faculty Evaluation; Student Records and Advising; and Graduate Placement and Follow-up. The department of Printing and Imaging Technology Management at Ferris State University, in 2000, was the first program to receive accreditation. Professor Patrick Klarecki, Department Chair, said, “The accreditation process outlined by the ACCGC brought credibility to our program on campus. Print media as a field of study is often taken for granted in society and the same was the case on our campus. Most programs in our College of Technology are either ABET or NAIT accredited, and receive recognition for this. Being ACCGC accredited gave me a seat at the ‘round table’ with my colleagues from other departments and has enhanced the overall respect that my program receives by the campus administration.” Florida A&M University’s Division of Graphic Communication received ACCGC accreditation in 2002. Dr. Arvid Mukes, Division Chair, said, “As a result of the ACCGC accreditation the Division of Graphic Communication was provided university funds for faculty development for industry internships, and professional seminars and workshops. Florida A&M University also provided funds for the construction of the new School of Journalism and Graphic Communication that is schedule to be completed in spring semester 2005. Additionally, the accreditation process provided the eligibility for the Division of Graphic Communication to receive matching funds from the Florida state government for equipment and facilities. The ACCGC Accreditation approval has validated the Division of Graphic Communication academic program statewide and helped propel a State of Florida Program Review approval. Since Florida A&M’s accreditation by the ACCGC, student enrollment in the Division of Graphic Communication has increased by 25 percent.” “We learned a lot about not only ourselves but also about other programs in the United States by going through the self-study and site visitation. We now have something to benchmark against,” said Ferris State’s Klarecki. “Our administration places great importance on the status of accreditation and the ACCGC provided us with a means of acquiring a meaningful accreditation.” Cal Poly became the third program in the nation to receive accreditation. According to Dr. Penny Osmond, Associate Professor, who headed up the accreditation in the 2002 – 2003 academic year, “We felt the accreditation process would not only allow us to internally evaluate our program, but also to receive feedback from an outside organization. Everyone benefits from this type of evaluation and validation process. We have also found that becoming an accredited program gives us a certain level of respect amongst our colleagues campus-wide and additional credibility in industry. In fact, the university sees external accreditation as being so important that the administration paid all ACCGC fees. Therefore, the Graphic Communication Department’s budget was not impacted.” Klarecki pointed out that the Printing and Imaging Technology Management program at Ferris State constantly evaluates and changes its curriculum as a result of rapid changes that are occurring in the graphic arts industry. He further said, “The ACCGC process validated our efforts with regard to making meaningful changes. Academia is known for having a ‘snails pace’ of change. At Ferris we have been able to leverage the ACCGC’s evaluation to help speed our campus curriculum process. At Florida A&M, Mukes said, “Having gone through the accreditation process provided the graphic communication industry in Florida documentation that Florida A&M University has achieved high standards of instruction for its Graphic Communication students.” He said that, “…it also played a role in fostering public confidence in the educational enterprise and represents evidence that the university is concerned about maintaining high standards, enhancing institutional effectiveness and in improving higher education.” According to Mukes, faculty members at Florida A&M benefited by knowing that their teaching methods have been officially endorsed by an independent accrediting agency and that they are providing the level of education that industry expects. Mukes said, “The ACCGC accreditation has provided accountability to the citizens of Florida who pay for public education by demonstrating that their tax dollars are being effectively used. He further pointed out that accreditation has increased his programs visibility by 100 percent according to a self-study annual survey report of the Florida graphic communication industry. Cal Poly’s Osmond further pointed out that the university requires each department to go through a rigid “self-assessment” every five years. “The timing was great,” Osmond said, “Assessment has become a big focus on campus. Because of the accreditation we are ahead of the game compared to other departments. The university administration looked favorably upon this because the ACCGC review lent credibility to our department’s self-study.” Klarecki took a philosophical view of the Ferris program accreditation. He said, “In the current environment of increasingly tight financial budgets at the university, less corporate support as a result of poor economic conditions, and a lack of public awareness of print media, I would strongly encourage all university graphic communication programs to seek accreditation from the ACCGC. Accreditation will not solve all your challenges but it is one small piece of the puzzle. The more pieces you are able to gather and assemble the better off your program will be.” Harvey Levenson, president of the ACCGC and also department head of Graphic Communication at Cal poly, said, “One of our goals is to encourage every academic program in the graphic arts field to reach a standard that best serves preparing students to enter the dynamic and changing graphic communication profession. Then, through accreditation, we want the industry to know that they can rely on these programs for qualified graduates who are ready to contribute to the companies they join. While we presently provide accreditation for four-year Bachelor’s degree programs, we are also exploring the possibility of developing accreditation standards for two-year programs offering Associate degrees.”




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