Vermont College Of Fine Arts To Receive Accreditation

Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) is receiving accreditation by the largest accrediting body for public and private schools in New England and the oldest regional accrediting association in the nation, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). At a record pace for an independent college, VCFA was recommended for accreditation at a meeting of NEASC’s Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE). “Achieving NEASC accreditation demonstrates VCFA’s commitment to rigorous academics, a dynamic learning community, and a sustainable business model,” said Thomas Christopher Greene, President of Vermont College of Fine Arts. “This is a major accomplishment for our community.”

What is normally as much as a five-year process was accomplished by VCFA in less than two. Con Hogan, Chair of VCFA’s Board of Trustees stated, “The accreditation gives VCFA an important acknowledgement of excellence at a key time in our renaissance.” Vermont College of Fine Arts was launched out of a desire to maintain the programs and the academic nature of the campus which were under the threat of being dismantled and sold piecemeal. Tom Greene, a novelist, MFA in Writing alumnus and longtime administrator in the College, and Bill Kaplan, a real estate professional with expertise in community-based projects, led the two-year effort to purchase the physical campus and three academic programs. Assembling a highly experienced Board of Trustees and securing $12 million in funding, the group formed the independent, and now accredited, VCFA.

“Accreditation means that an objective outside look has concluded that the College is fiscally sound and responsible,” says Trustee Bob Atwell, a former President of the American Council on Education and a current board member of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. “It is a testament to the quality of the institution as measured by its academic programs, its governance, and the successes of its graduates.”

VCFA Trustee Katherine Paterson, currently serving as the US Library of Congress Ambassador of Children’s Literature, describes the accreditation with a literary allusion. “Vermont College of Fine Arts is truly the ‘little college that could.’ We’ve huffed and puffed our way through mountains of requirements both academic and financial and come to this exciting pinnacle. In our world today we need art that will challenge our assumptions, illumine our darkness, and heal our moral ills. By granting full accreditation in this short time, NESAC affirms that this little college has produced and will continue to produce the artists who will give society that art.”

Though the college is newly independent (in the past the programs were under the umbrella of Norwich University and Union Institute & University) the three MFA Programs have been around for some time. The MFA in Writing Program will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2011 and the MFA in Visual Art and MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults were begun in 1991 and 1997, respectively. Since achieving independence, the application numbers for these programs have doubled and enrollment is at an all-time high.

With the accreditation process behind them, President Greene and his team will now focus on the objectives of their 5 year strategic plan that the Board of Trustees recently approved and endorsed.

About NEASC and CIHE
The Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges is the regional accreditation agency for colleges and universities in the six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The Commission is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a reliable authority on the quality of education for the institutions it accredits. The Commission is also recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), affirming that its standards and processes are consistent with the quality, improvement, and accountability expectations that CHEA has established.

About Accreditation
Accreditation is a process of peer review that the educational community has adopted for its self-regulation since early in the 20th century. It is a voluntary process intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education, making it worthy of public confidence. Institutions choose to apply for accredited status, and once accredited, they agree to abide by the standards of their accrediting organization and to regulate themselves by taking responsibility for their own improvement.

About VCFA
Vermont College of Fine Arts is a national center for education in the arts, a place where the creative expression of individuals is nurtured and a sense of community flourishes. VCFA is the only graduate school in the country devoted exclusively to fine arts education, and the first independent college to form in Vermont since 1983. Offering three nationally successful Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees in Visual Art, Writing, and Writing for Children & Young Adults, VCFA’s alumni are among the most celebrated authors and artists working today.