School of Business achieves highest accreditation

by Annika Bjornson | Staff Writer

After a decade of hard work and dedication, Whitworth has been awarded the highest level of accreditation for business schools. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) officially announced the decision on Dec. 2, congratulating Whitworth on its commitment to cultivating committed business leaders. 

Only 5% of business schools worldwide achieve AACSB international accreditation, as it is an extensive process. The Whitworth School of Business (WSB) first considered the accreditation in 2011 and started the process in 2014. They underwent extensive changes and evaluations to produce the final report, which rests at about 220 pages long. Some of the changes included altering curriculums, creating classes, switching textbooks, bringing in new professors and conducting more research. 

Associate Professor of Management and Marketing David Sloan is the chair of WSB. Sloan, an alum, is happy about this accreditation received from the AACSB peer review team. 

“The assurance of learning process forced us to articulate better the promises we make to our students,” he said. “[We] had to measure performance in each of these areas, and not only show not just where we were at, but also what we were doing to improve.” 

To measure the business program’s accreditation goals, many qualitative and quantitative studies of faculty, students and class outcomes took place. For example, to measure WSB’s goal of improving oral communication, a panel of instructors would visit classes where students were giving presentations to assess their skills and compare them over the years. 

Many stakeholders were involved in the process, including students, the business advisory board, community members, business owners and leadership on campus.  

One big emphasis of AACSB is development in areas of scholarship, so faculty must stay current with theories and research in their field. At the start of the process in 2011, Whitworth only had one faculty peer-reviewed journal article published per year. In recent years, there have been close to ten per year. 

According to Addie Grow, Assistant Director of Internships and External Relations, WSB’s 2019 and 2020 graduates had a career outcome percentage of 96% at six months post-graduation (meaning they were employed full-time, in an internship, accepted to grad school, participating in a volunteer program, or performing military duty). Also, 86% of WSB’s 2020 graduates had completed an internship or career-related work experience during their undergraduate years. 

Sophomore Brenden Archer studies marketing and percussion performance, hoping that he might be able to work with music businesses or in sound production. He is grateful for the variety, usability and adaptability of the skills he is learning in his business major. 

“I think the potential only goes upwards from there,” he said. “It’s great evidence of what the staff and faculty [here] are doing…and it gives us current students confidence that we can go places with this education.” 

Associate Professor of Economics and Business Robin Henager is excited about the outcome of this journey. 

“It was really about the promise we make to our students. The accreditation, in my mind, is all about how we can best serve our students. We are very proud that our students are graduating from an AACSB accredited business school,” Henager said. 

For further information on the AACSB accreditation, see | Whitworth University News