January 23, 2008
The University of Maine at Fort Kent has received specialized accreditation for its Bachelor of Science degree programs in Business, E-Commerce, Rural Public Safety Administration, and in Computer Applications with a concentration in Business through the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).
The IACBE is a premier professional accreditor of business programs for colleges and universities throughout the United States and internationally.The organization’s Board of Commissioners approved UMFK’s Business program accreditation at its November 2007 meeting, in Olathe, Kansas. The IACBE accreditation is valid for up to seven years. UMFK will need to be reaffirmed by the organization by April 2014. Through its specialized accreditation process, IACBE provides external assurance of an institution’s business programs, and ensures that characteristics of excellence are evident in the academic business unit. “Seeking professional accreditation for career oriented programs is one of the important ways we in higher education assure the public that such programs are of the very highest quality,” said UMFK President, Dr. Richard W. Cost. “Attaining such accreditation involves a lengthy and arduous process, but through the exhaustive self-study, the comprehensive review by a team of peers from other institutions, and detailed follow-up reports, we document our conformance to best international practice and adherence to the highest academic standards. It’s a tough process but one that we believe is very important to the public,” Dr. Cost added. The IACBE exists to promote, develop, and recognize excellence in business education. Its philosophy of accreditation is centered on student learning and operational outcomes, which makes it flexible and adaptable. Last spring, the UMFK Business Program submitted a multi-volume self-study to the IACBE, as a key component in the accreditation process. "The real importance of this accreditation is that it demonstrates that our students perform to market standards. Our students know that their education is comparable to that received at more famous and expensive institutions. The IACBE program is internationally accredited, and students can confidently apply for careers anywhere," said Dr. Roger Roy, associate professor of mathematics and business, who co-authored the department’s self-study effort. According to a description of its philosophy from its own website: “The IACBE is a leader in outcomes-based assessment and accreditation, in which excellence in business education is evaluated based on the results of the assessment of educational outcomes, rather than on prescriptive input standards.” The IACBE accreditation is particularly important as UMFK broadens its horizons, particularly to Europe and with the Project Maine-Quebec-France initiative that it has been advancing. The IACBE’s recognized international accreditation is crucial to such outreach efforts. The UMFK Natural and Behavioral Sciences Division, of which the Business and related programs are a part, started to take a serious look at specialized accreditation a couple years ago. Much of that impetus was driven by the efforts undertaken by the division during preparation of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) self study, as part of the re-accreditation of UMFK in 2005. In May 2007, a team from the IACBE’s New England Regional Assembly was in Fort Kent for an accreditation site visit to the campus. The New England Regional Assembly represents the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine. UMFK offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Business, Computer Applications, Electronic Commerce, and Public Safety Administration. These programs include a variety of specialized concentrations to enable students to tailor a degree to their particular career interests and goals. “For students considering enrollment in these programs, professional accreditation provides impartial assurance that they will be participating in a high-quality program. At the same time, accreditation helps prospective employers know that graduates are well prepared to enter these professions. Graduating from an accredited program can mean a great deal to a business professional,” Dr. Cost noted. There are two types of accreditation in higher education; regional and professional. Regional accreditation insures the public of an institution’s overall integrity; that is, is it true to its mission and does it have the appropriate resources to carry out that mission? UMFK is regionally accredited through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Professional accreditation assures compliance with high standards appropriate to specific professional degrees. UMFK currently is professionally accredited in its Nursing, Education, and Forest Technology programs. With the IACBE accreditation, it now adds the Business, Computer Application, E-Commerce and Rural Public Safety programs.