Drake University‘s business school has decided to voluntarily give up its accreditation for one year, after failing to meet faculty research standards.
“This was a better course of action than the threat of revocation,” said Charles Edwards, dean of Drake’s College of Business and Public Administration. He said the college plans to reapply for accreditation to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business in spring 2015.
Drake officials emphasized that the decision has no impact on the university’s overall accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission and doesn’t reflect the business school’s quality of education.
The decision comes just before student applications to Drake are due May 1. “The timing is not the best,” Edwards acknowledged.
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business says its accredited schools “have been proven to provide the best in business education worldwide.” Drake’s business school has been accredited for 65 years. Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa are accredited through AACSB, as are some of Drake’s private school peers, such as Creighton, Bradley and Butler.
Drake met 20 of the association’s 21 standards in its last review in 2011, but failed to meet expectations for research productivity, such as the number of articles published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Drake was given two years to meet the standards.
Edwards said Drake increased money for faculty research and travel, and 25 percent of faculty members who weren’t publishing now are. But he said six or seven faculty members still must increase their productivity before Drake can meet the expectations.
Edwards said the faculty has had a “laser focus” on teaching and advising students, perhaps to the detriment of research.
Drake emphasizes that its graduates are ready for the workforce, and 99.3 percent of last year’s business graduates had jobs or were enrolled in graduate school within six months.
Drake’s College of Business and Public Administration has 1,100 undergraduate students — up from 700 to 750 a decade ago — and 450 graduate students, Edwards said.
Jim Wallace, chairman and CEO of GuideOne Insurance in West Des Moines, said the loss of accreditation won’t be an issue for recruiters looking at Drake graduates. “As an employer, it doesn’t bother me at all,” he said.
“I still think Drake has far and away the best actuarial school in the country and a good accounting school,” said Wallace, who is a Drake alum and a member of the university’s Board of Trustees.
“But let’s not kid ourselves, no one wants to lose any recognition or accolade,” he said. “This will cause the organization to take a hard look and come out better.”
Principal Financial Group also expressed support for the business school. “We receive a strong talent pool from Drake and do not believe that the loss of AACSB accreditation will change that in the short term. We’d be looking for Drake to work to reclaim the accreditation in the long term,” spokeswoman Susan F. Houser said.