Mary Baldwin Achieves New Level of Accreditation

December 12, 2012

Mary Baldwin University has reached a milestone in establishing graduate programs in health sciences and in the overall growth of the institution.

This week, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
(SACS) Commission on Colleges voted to clear the way for Mary Baldwin to become a Level Five institution and award doctoral degrees in up to three academic or professional disciplines. The decision helps facilitate the establishment of doctor of physical therapy (DPT) and doctor of occupational therapy (OTD) programs in the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences (MDCHS), planned to open in 2014.

“Attaining accreditation as a doctoral institution is a significant milestone in the history of Mary Baldwin University,” said Lyn McDermid ’95, chairwoman of the Mary Baldwin Board of Trustees. “Through the years we have stayed ahead of the curve through hard work and with an entrepreneurial spirit. The establishment of Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences, the latest demonstration of that spirit, takes the institution to a whole new level. The SACS approval of our change in status is exciting and gratifying.”

Mary Baldwin President Pamela Fox first delivered the news to faculty and staff via email from Texas, where she attended the annual meeting of SACS, the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. In her message, Fox thanked the team who worked in quickly to submit the ambitious proposal by October: Lew Askegaard, dean of institutional research, associate dean of the college and registrar; Linda Stanford, founding vice president of MDCHS; Lisa Shoaf, director of physical therapy; and Martha Modlin, project administrator for MDCHS.

The last time Mary Baldwin achieved a new level of accreditation was in 1991 with the advent of the Masters of Arts in Teaching program. The leap from Level Three, or master’s-level university, to Level Five is a major step, Askegaard said, adding that the process was carried out in record time and involved the addition of not one additional program, but two programs, plus the establishment of a branch campus, the first for Mary Baldwin.

“This was extremely unusual and extremely ambitious and to do it in six weeks is unprecedented. Level Five is the hardest level to make,” Askegaard said.

While there is much to celebrate, the final approval from SACS won’t be official until a site visit to the new campus in Fishersville in the 2014–15 academic year. MDCHS administrators also have initiated and continue to work within the appropriate processes for each new graduate program, including a master of physician assistant studies program, to become accredited by the organizations that govern each discipline.