By Rachel Shirey
MORROW — Clayton State University’s division of music was recently granted full accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).
“It gives us recognition that our music program has been recognized as meeting standards that all the really good schools of music have all over the county,” said Dr. Susan Tusing, chair of the Clayton State Department of Visual and Performing Arts. “Most of the universities in Georgia have this designation, but not all of them. So it just gives us recognition among our peers.”
Tusing also said this achievement will allow the program to attract more students and qualified faculty to help the program succeed.
NASM is a professional organization that specializes in accrediting degree and non-degree music programs at American colleges and universities.
It was established in 1924 and helps support artistic and academic excellence by setting national standards for music study.
It also conducts statistical research and policy analysis to promote the importance and achievements of music education.
NASM has 644 institutional members, including 21 public and private colleges and universities in Georgia.
Clayton State’s music program was granted full membership at NASM’s annual meeting in November, but Clayton State was initially granted associate membership in NASM in 2006, when the Department of Music was chaired by Dr. Douglas Wheeler.
Tusing said the program had to undergo an extensive process in order to earn their new accreditation status.
The music program was required to submit an involved self study on their institution, degree program and facilities like the rehearsal and instrumental facilities.
Following the write-up, NASM reviewed the report and sent a team of two members to visit and scrutinize the facility.
If the visitors saw deficiencies that needed attention, then the school would respond appropriately.
The program went through this process twice in order to earn its original associated membership, and now it’s full membership.
“We had our last visit in February of 2011, and so that was two years ago, so after their response and our response, a couple cycles through that, then we were awarded full membership,” Tusing said. “So it’s a lot of work on our part to get to that. It’s not something that’s just given out.”
She said the NASM accreditation is much like the university’s SACS accreditation, and is something that could be lost if the program is negligent.
“It’s possible for that to happen, but NASM has a lot of resources for music departments that if they see problems starting to arise, they have some resources to help you work through that so you don’t have to lose your membership,” Tusing said.
Tusing said she believes this will be exciting news for the music students, because their diplomas will have more credibility and standing.
“I think they’ll be excited about it and particularly the ones who were here a couple years ago when we had the visit, because that was a big deal.”