Is Well Worth the Work
For colleges of business at historically Black colleges and universities, gaining accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is very important. Having accreditation shows the school meets the same high standards as AACSB accredited majority schools. AACSB accreditation also indicates to Black students and future employers that the school, while committed to providing the comfort and support that only an HBCU can provide, also is committed to preparing students for success in the mainstream.
The AACSB requirements are simple, straightforward and adaptable to any school. A school must show that the mission of the school guides its daily activities and its short- and long-term goals. It also must show evidence of teamwork among faculty, administrators, students, alumni and business constituencies. Finally, it must have necessary processes and procedures in place. All of these activities must have supporting documentation. This is a lot of work, and at HBCUs, the already overworked faculty will have to do most of it, but it is doable. Moreover, considering that the requirements are mission-driven and therefore school specific, any school that works at it can receive AACSB accreditation. And, with only about 10 percent of HBCUs being accredited compared to approximately 30 percent of majority institutions, AACSB accreditation is a must if HBCUs want to maintain their credibility as quality institutions of higher learning.
I taught at the College of Business at Grambling State University in Louisiana during the time that it was in AACSB accreditation candidacy. I encourage all colleges of business to consider AACSB accreditation. To that end, I provide some helpful hints that I picked up from our experience.
n Basic needs. Each school needs a foundation from which to start. This foundation is the dean. He or she must want accreditation and be willing to give time, money and power to the faculty to set the necessary processes and procedures in place. He or she also must develop and maintain relationships with outside stakeholders, such as alumni, businesses and future employers. Just as important is the college’s mission statement. It must be well thought out and acceptable to all the above mentioned constituencies. Faculty involvement is also important. This was easy for us. Nearly everyone jumped at the chance to set the policies for tenure and promotion, and distribution of travel funds. Moreover, the state said it would shut us down if we could not get accreditation. How’s that for motivation to get involved?
n Things that would have made the process easier. During the candidacy period it is very important to make things as pleasant and professional as possible. In our case, we needed money for basic supplies. It is difficult to believe you work at a great school when it rations paper and markers. In addition, we could have done very well without politics and power plays.
n Mistakes we made. You should get the rules early, understand them, and follow them. We made our biggest mistakes because we did not follow the rules. We focused on outcomes like the number of successful alumni and let the processes, procedures and documentation that the AACSB really wanted fall by the wayside. Another mistake we made was thinking that we were special to the AACSB because we were an HBCU. We had to follow all the same rules as any other school.
The accreditation process was a powerful learning experience. It helped us to become a much better school. We got a better understanding of who we were and what we needed to do. I am sure that with the will and the desire, almost any college of business can become AACSB accredited and receive the same benefits that we did.
— Dr. Linda Holmes is an assistant professor of accounting in the College of Business and Economics at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.
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