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Ave Maria University Achieves Regional Accreditation

Ave Maria University has reached a major milestone -- full accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Dr. Belle Wheelan, president of the SACS Commission on Colleges, announced the association's decision early Thursday afternoon.

Accreditation by SACS, one of six regional accrediting organizations in the U.S., means, among other things, that most colleges and universities will recognize credits and degrees from AMU.

"We're delighted," said AMU Vice-President for Academic Affairs Jack Sites, who was the main person at the university responsible for the application.

"We've been looking forward to this day for many years," university Chancellor Tom Monaghan said in a news release.

Accreditation by SACS has been one of the university's major goals since its inception. AMU filed its application a little more than two years ago and was granted "candidacy" status by SACS in December, 2008. Before accrediting a school, SACS looks at a number of factors including the caliber of the school's faculty and students, its academics, and the institution's finances.

The accreditation applies to all of the university's operations, including its Latin American campus in Nicaragua.

AMU President Nick Healy said, "We feel privileged to have earned membership in SACS, and we are anxious to launch the next steps of our development.  Our future plans, like other institutions of higher learning, are to seek approval for new majors that are in demand from and important to our constituent student populations."

During the time a school's application for accreditation is pending, it may not make any substantive changes in its curriculum or academic degree programs. Now that AMU has received accreditation, it is eligible to seek approval from SACS to expand its academic offerings, including adding additional majors and post-graduate programs. Dr. Sites said that the university is in the process of preparing "substantive change" applications for authorization to offer degree programs at the Florida campus in psychology and business administration, both of which are offered at the Latin American campus.

SACS accredits more than 800 schools in eleven southern states. Members include The University of Florida, the University of Miami, Duke University and the University of Virginia. In Florida, Ave Maria is one of about 20 colleges and universities that are accredited by SACS to offer degrees at the doctoral level.

Click here for a copy of the university's news release in PDF form

Click here for story from Naples Daily News



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