Cornerstone University Business Programs Receive ACBSP Accreditation
by Ellie Walburg (B.S. ’17)
Cornerstone University's traditional undergraduate and Professional & Graduate Studies (PGS) business degrees have been awarded accreditation through the Accreditation Council for Business Schools (ACBSP). According to their website, ACBSP "is a leading specialized business accreditation association committed to advancing excellence in business education worldwide."
With a commitment to providing students excellence in the classroom and beyond, Cornerstone began the application process for ACBSP accreditation.
"We wanted to distinguish ourselves from other business programs in the area, and we were excited by the challenge of having to adhere to a rigorous set of criteria for accreditation," Dr. Jeff Savage, dean of business for PGS, said. "We were motivated by the questions of 'How can we improve our programs for our students, and how can we distinguish ourselves from other schools?'"
Having this accreditation brings a great deal of value for CU, students and the community at large. "To be able to have an external accrediting body say they recognize we have a certain level of quality and we're committing to continuous improvement, that's a valuable thing to have," Dr. Rachel Hammond, Business Division chair for the university's traditional undergraduate program, said. "Not only does it help our students feel confident that they're receiving a quality degree but it also helps from a reputation standpoint in the business education community."
A site visit in February served as one of the last stages in the initial accreditation process. During this time, representatives from various parts of the university met with an ACBSP site team to share about the traditional undergraduate and PGS programs.
This accreditation provides recognition on a global level in a university and college environment. Only nine other schools in the state of Michigan hold this specialized accreditation for their business school programs, making it a key distinguisher in quality and excellence of business programs, according to Savage. Accredited business programs at PGS include B.S. Organizational Management, B.S. Business Administration and Leadership, M.B.A. and M.A. Organizational Leadership. Business programs at the traditional undergraduate level are also accredited.
Established in 1988, ACBSP Global Business Accreditation follows the standards of the Education Criteria Performance Excellence from the Baldrige National Quality Program. According to their website, these standards hold on the themes of systematic leadership, strategic planning, a focus on students and stakeholders, assessing learning outcomes, faculty focus, continuous improvement of curriculum and tracking student performance measures. These standards are designed to guide institutions toward thriving business programs.
With such a focus on continuous improvement, being approved for accreditation is as much a launching point as it is an accomplishment.
"The accreditation encourages us to make sure we're listening to our stakeholders," Hammond said.
One example of how CU has already focused their attention on stakeholders is through developing an advisory board of alumni and community members to provide a platform to receive feedback and further the continuous improvement process.
Accreditation means that "the university business programs have to do what all quality improvement programs influence you to do: Get better at the key skills and core competencies of our jobs by strategically planning around distinctively competitive advantages and resourcing those adequately," Savage said.
Pursuing this accreditation has been a team effort in gathering reports, information, strategic plans and so much more to ensure a successful process. In particular, Bill Riter, who spent many years teaching in the Business Division, "championed and was instrumental in leading the charge for accreditation," Hammond said.
"To pull off ACBSP accreditation, PGS and TUG Business Division leaders and staff had to collaborate effectively," Savage said. "It was such a rewarding process, and I look forward to having further, continued opportunities to work with one another on maintaining the accreditation, improving our programs and giving opportunities for our students."
Having such accreditation status paves the way for an exciting future in the success, rigor and practical applicability for CU's business programs.