Newly Accredited: University of Mary Washington on Earning AACSB Accreditation
Lynne Richardson, dean of the University of Mary Washington College of Business, shares how the accreditation process helped formalize many of the good things the school was already doing.
In this blog series, AACSB is spotlighting business schools around the world that have recently earned AACSB Accreditation. We ask the business school leadership about their journey to accreditation and what the new achievement means to them. In this interview, Lynne Richardson, dean of the University of Mary Washington College of Business, shares how the AACSB accreditation journey helped bring structure and attention to the good things the school was already doing as well as encouraged more engagement with alumni and businesses.
Why was it important for your school to undergo the rigorous process of earning AACSB Accreditation?
When the college of business was formed in 2010 after a merger of the business faculties on two campuses, the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors expected the college to be AACSB accredited as an indicator of quality. So we began the journey!
What did you learn about your school through your accreditation journey?
As we began, we learned that we were doing so many things well, especially related to student experiences and learning. But we realized we needed to create a more formal system to capture this information as a way to share. We also recognized that the classroom experiences had propelled graduates to successful careers. We began involving more alumni in activities with the college, such as becoming mentors, speaking in classes, and serving on a newly formed advisory board. They were enthusiastic about their Mary Washington business education!
What were the most challenging and rewarding parts of the accreditation process?
The biggest challenges were learning the accreditation “language” and expectations, as most of the original faculty and staff had not worked in an AACSB-accredited institution, and then creating research agendas focused on increasing peer-reviewed publications among the faculty.
The most rewarding parts were seeing the faculty embrace research agendas and assessment activities and creating more engagement with the local business community and alumni.
What impact do you hope to see from having achieved AACSB Accreditation?
As a quality indicator, we expect that our campus colleagues will recognize and appreciate our successful journey and what it means to the campus community, but especially to our students. Some employers and potential international university partners have shared that they expect to work with an AACSB-accredited institution; this should create more opportunities for us.
What advice would you give to another school approaching the accreditation process?
Faculty understanding and buy-in is key, but someone must be the accreditation “expert.” Because achieving accreditation is a multi-year process, recognize that you need to just keep making progress. Some days you will feel like you make an inch of progress, while other days it seems like a foot. Be patient, keep the faculty engaged as part of the process, stay focused, and you will arrive at your destination.
Lynne Richardson is dean of the University of Mary Washington College of Business.