(Macon and Atlanta)— The Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics of Mercer University has been inducted into an elite group of business schools worldwide who have received accreditation from AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Mercer School of Business received an official certificate marking its accreditation at a special ceremony in Montreal, Canada, on April 18. Of the 13 universities to receive initial accreditation at this year's AACSB International annual conference, only six are in the United States, with Mercer being one of them.
"Achieving AACSB International accreditation is a testament to the high caliber of the Business School's faculty, staff and students," said Mercer University President R. Kirby Godsey. "Mercer University is committed to providing the highest quality education possible to its students, and this accreditation is another indicator that we are accomplishing that."
Only 418 business schools out of more than 1,500 in the United States have this prestigious accreditation. Among the other institutions with business schools having AACSB International accreditation are Harvard University, Vanderbilt University, Baylor University, Wake Forest University and University of California-Berkeley.
AACSB International accreditation means the Stetson School of Business and Economics meets quality standards relating to strategic management of resources, interactions of faculty and students in the educational process and achievement of learning goals. The application process for accreditation takes a minimum of five years.
Mercer business professor Walt Austin, Ph.D., who coordinated Mercer's AACSB International accreditation efforts, said the School used the extensive application process as an opportunity to review and further strengthen its curriculum and programs.
"Achieving AACSB accreditation means that the Stetson School of Business and Economics not only has high quality to achieve accreditation, but also that it has demonstrated over the five-year candidacy period that it has effective quality control processes that will ensure that we provide a high-quality education in the future," Austin said.
During the candidacy period, the Business School reaffirmed its mission as student education. The School reduced faculty teaching loads, enriching the classroom experience, and overhauled the business curriculum to provide an education tailored to the needs of the student and the workplace. Business faculty strengthened their commitment to conducting research in the field and interacting with other practitioners.
At the end of the candidacy period, a team of deans from other AACSB International accredited business schools visited and evaluated all aspects of the School, talking with trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni. This peer review team then submitted a recommendation to the Board of Directors for AACSB International, who voted to grant accreditation to Mercer.
Among the strengths that the peer review team noted in its report was the School's faculty, which they stated "collectively and individually demonstrates attention to continuous improvement and innovation in teaching." The report also said that "interviews with students demonstrated a high degree of satisfaction with the faculty and with faculty availability outside the classroom."
Regarding the learning environment, the team stated that the University provided a strong sense of "family" culture on both the Atlanta and the Macon campus and credited its religious heritage and orientation in helping "inculcate values of respect, collegiality and mutual support."
Mercer was commended for its innovative Managed Academic Path to Success (MAPS) undergraduate curriculum for the bachelor of business administration degree. This interdisciplinary program, offered on Mercer's Macon campus, allows students to identify their interests and, together with their faculty adviser, develop a personalized program of study. The report stated, "MAPS builds on the close academic advisement relationship between student and faculty to provide a personalized approach to shaping an individual student's academic program."
The peer review team also noted the strengths of the MBA and Executive MBA programs at Mercer, finding both meeting AACSB International standards.
When learning of the accreditation, Mercer University Trustee Robert Hatcher, Georgia chairman of BB&T and President and CEO of MidCountry Financial Corp., said, "AACSB International is the most prestigious accreditation that a business school can receive. It represents a strong commitment to quality in the classroom and to the overall learning experience that goes far beyond the typical. Throughout my long association with Mercer, the University has always been dedicated to preparing students with the highest quality education possible. This accreditation simply reaffirms the University's efforts. I am pleased to have my grandfather's name on a school that is so committed to the highest standards in educating tomorrow's business leaders."
Established in 1984, the Stetson School of Business and Economics offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration in Macon with daytime and evening classes. In Atlanta, the School offers classes in the evenings and on the weekends for graduate degree programs and an undergraduate transfer program on the Cecil B. Day Campus. The School also offers undergraduate programs at Mercer's Regional Academic Center in Douglas County, and will begin offering its Executive MBA degree program at Mercer's Regional Academic Center in Henry County in January of 2005.
Founded in 1833, Mercer University has campuses in Macon and Atlanta as well as three regional academic centers. With 10 schools and colleges, the University offers programs in liberal arts, business, engineering, education, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, law and theology. For 14 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has named Mercer University as one of the leading universities in the South. The Princeton Review has listed Mercer among The Best 351 Colleges in North America.