Music department earns decade-long reaccreditation

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SVSU’s music department was just reaccredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). SVSU was first accredited for five years in 2009, making them part of the three percent of universities nationwide who earn accreditation by NASM on their first application.

The recent reaccreditation will last 10 years, the longest possible time a university can be reaccredited for.

“The reason to have an accredited program at all is usually to ensure that the program is meeting the highest standards nationally in that discipline,” Dean of the College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences Mark Peretz said. “This is just one way we can assure we are providing the best for our students.”

Unlike other accreditations, NASM is not only an accreditation for a specific program, but the entire university. As such, the process involves a thorough self-study of the music department and the university, including how fiscally sound the university is.

“We received the official letter of reaccreditation this January,” Music Department Chair Jane Girdham said. “We had to do a thorough self-study, which sometimes involved making small changes to the programs to meet the standards thoroughly. We then had two visitors from NASM come to campus for two days.”

Part of the on-site visit included meetings with President Donald Bachand, the Provost Deb Huntley and students. Students were given a private conference with the accreditors to learn more about the program and to hold a recital consisting of music majors from every class standing. Then, the accreditors evaluated the facilities and the music department in order to offer suggestions for improvement.

“These are professionals coming from the outside who have spent a month or two reviewing our self-study before they even come to campus,” Peretz said. “You have these trained individuals who are saying this is a really solid program.”

In fact, the accreditors gave very few recommendations to the music department. Renovations to the band room were in order, as was the creation of the wind ensemble under the guidance of the new director, Norm Wika.

“The band room was very inadequate, particularly because of in-built risers and bad acoustics,” Girdham said. “Our administration, who are very supportive of our being accredited, found the money to have the band room completely reinvented.”

Although attaining NASM reaccreditation is a time-consuming and detail-orientated process, the outcomes of attaining it are quite rewarding, not only for SVSU’s staff but for its music education students.

“Most of our music students are education majors, and the state said only NASM accredited programs could have students go for the licensing exam,” Peretz said. “It’s a very comprehensive process.”

SVSU has not only earned NASM reaccreditation but is one of only 650 universities in the nation that was. That speaks volumes to the quality education that music majors receive and the commitment of the music department has to setting high standards for themselves and their students.

“The department has done a very admirable job in maintaining its standards and evolving to meet the continually changing guidelines of NASM,” Peretz said. “I’m really proud of the faculty and students. They deserve a lot of credit.”