Small-school accreditation the business of ACBSP – Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs

Dear Editor:

The articles written by Cheryl

Fields only present one perspective of “Taking Care of Business at
HBCUs” (Dec. 12, 1996). There is another specialized accrediting
association for business schools and programs besides the the American
Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

There are approximately 2,400 institutions of higher education that
have business programs in the five traditional fields of business
education — accounting, business administration, finance, management,
and marketing. The institutions may also have specialized areas of
study — such as human resources management, management information
systems, and public administration — which are a part of a business
academic unit and considered as business-related curricula.
Approximately half of these institutions are two-year colleges and the
other half are four-year schools, some of which have graduate programs.

Business education as a professional field of study is four times
as large as the next largest professional field which is teacher

In 1988, only 260 of those 2,400 institutions had their business
schools and programs accredited and the process was administered by
only one organization. Many of the remaining 2,140 institutions felt
that an alternative organization should he created to satisfy the
business accreditation needs of their institutions. Most of these 2,140
institutions had (and still have) student-oriented excellence in
teaching as their primary objective, as opposed to a heavy emphasis on
research. They wanted an accrediting organization that had this same
emphasis reflected in its accreditation standards.

Hence, the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs
(ACBSP), a new accrediting organization, was created with its primary
emphasis directed towards fostering excellence in teaching. ACBSP was
also founded to help institutions improve the quality and integrity of
business education.

What constitutes the difference between these two accreditation
groups? ACBSP, which has maintained since its inception that it should
complement AACSB, views its market niche as business schools and
programs offered by the mid-size and small institutions, as well as the
community and junior colleges. AACSB does not accredit associate degree

Requirements that academically qualified faculty hold terminal
degrees in their teaching field and the discounting of certain types of
scholarly and professional activity have made it virtually impossible
for many small-size, quality institutions to gain AACSB accreditation.
The organization’s standards have contained provisions that have made
transfer of credits extremely difficult, particularly from community/
junior colleges and unaccredited institutions. AACSB has primarily
accredited doctoral granting and large to mid-size programs with a
significant emphasis on research.

ACBSP exists to address the unmet needs of institutions which were
not served by AACSB. ACBSP stresses articulation and transfer policy
statements that facilitate the acceptance of community college credits.
It is committed to meeting the needs of business schools and programs
offered by mid-size and small institutions, as well as community and
junior colleges.

Since most, if not all, of the historically and predominantly Black
colleges and universities fall into this range, ACBSP is committed to
addressing the needs of these institutions of business education. The
experiences gained and lessons learned from working with institutions
can easily be applied to all other small to mid-size institutions
throughout the United States.

Because of previous and current propensities and priorities of
AACSB, the leadership of HBCUs were convinced that their business
programs were too small to even achieve accreditation. Moreover, the
HBCUs had to deal with what ACBSP believes is a “rebuttal presumption”:
Unaccredited business programs lack quality and integrity. ACBSP
believes that accrediting organizations are to provide an external
validation of the extent to which quality and integrity exists or does
not exist in a school of business or program. This approach requires
ACBSP program evaluators to make the assumption that some basic quality
and integrity existed before they visited the campus. The extent to
which that quality and integrity exists is ascertained by determining
whether or not the school of business or program meets the
association’s twenty-six standards.

Additionally, ACBSP believes that accreditation should not be
viewed as an event but rather as an integral part of the commitment of
business educators to the continued improvement of their business
schools and programs, and to the pursuit of excellence in all that is
done to prepare graduates to compete in a dynamic, ever-changing global
economy. Accreditation is a natural and logical step in the process of
continual improvement whereby programs in business education are
strengthened annually.

ACBSP is particularly interested in providing assistance to
historically and predominantly Black colleges and universities in
developing plans to achieve the association’s twenty-six standards of
quality. As the association builds an awareness of the standards of
quality and what constitutes excellence in business higher education,
it is expected that most of the historically and predominantly Black
colleges and universities will eventually complete their plans for
obtaining accreditation by ACBSP. The accreditation process of ACBSP
presents a proven way to demonstrate how to implement a plan for
quality improvement and enhancement

Quality business education in these institutions means that the
graduates can be-reasonably assured that they will be competitive in
the job market because of the commitment these schools have made to
achieving excellence in all business programs and activities. Other
attendant benefits would be increasing the number of graduates
attending graduate school and increasing the number of graduates who
become successful entrepreneurs.

Dr. Harold W. Lundy Executive Director Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs

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