Originally created 04/22/00

University tapped with designation



After seven years, Dr. Niren Vyas, head of the University of South Carolina Aiken School of Business Administration, can breathe a sigh of relief.

After seven years of listening to advisory boards, observing students and classes, updating curriculum and undergoing scrutiny, the school's bachelor's programs have been accredited by The International Association for Management Education Board of Directors.

The designation gives school faculty members validation for all their effort, Dr. Vyas said.

And they're starting over again almost immediately to be sure they keep the designation.

"This is the stamp of quality; they can say they attended a quality program," Dr. Vyas said.

"They can use this in the real world."

"The process of accreditation allowed us to look critically at our program and motivated us to bring it to a new level of excellence. (It) puts our business school in elite company."

But that does not mean the work is over.

Schools that are accredited have to be re-evaluated every five years.

That means faculty must continuously update and make changes between now and the next review.

"If these processes are in place, they will show you where the weaknesses are and where you need improvement," Dr. Vyas said.

"There is no finish line."

As of April, there were 373 accredited educational institutions in the United States out of 1,200 that offer an undergraduate business degree, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Dr. Vyas said some business schools haven't updated their curriculum for 10 years or more.

They saw no need to update as long as the Fortune 500 companies were the place to get a job, he said.

But the big companies are downsizing now, and smaller ones are emerging.

"Now, the business students are really going into high tech businesses, start-up companies and smaller companies. Their situation is different, you have to wear many hats -- the bottom line is we had to change our curriculum."

Dr. Robert E. Alexander, president of University of South Carolina Aiken, said this nationally recognized accreditation enhances the quality of a degree, essentially giving students a better degree for their money.

That helps when they apply to graduate school.

"This is a major feather in the cap of Dr. Vyas," Dr. Alexander said.

"It is his leadership that led us to this, and that of the faculty. ... I am particularly proud that all of our professional schools are nationally accredited."

Reach Lisa Lohr at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.