ACC Granted ‘Candidate for Accreditation’ Status

Post a Comment » Written on February 20th, 2008     
Filed under: News
ORLANDO, FL (February 20, 2008) – Alaska Christian College (ACC) today received the “candidate for accreditation” status it had been seeking from the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) over the past five years.

“Now we’re recognized as an excellent educational institution by our accrediting organization as well as the U.S. Department of Education,” said Keith Hamilton, ACC president since its founding in 2001. The decision could significantly influence the future of the school’s students because they will be able to receive state and federal financial aid, as well as transfer credits to other accredited institutions.

A review panel at the ABHE annual convention needed only three minutes of deliberation following a 35-minute presentation by school officials before rendering its decision. “They stood and applauded when they gave us the news,” Hamilton said.

The school is eligible to be fully accredited in three years. The ABHE will continue to monitor the work of the school during that time.

Most of the students at the school in Soldotna come from small and even remote villages. The college helps students transition from village life to their first year of college.

Less than five percent of Alaska Native high school graduates complete even their first semester of college, statistics show. Alaska Christian College operates part of its program in cooperation with nearby Kenai Peninsula College, an extension of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

“They (panel members) were really impressed with our mission to Alaska Natives,” Hamilton said.

The ABHE committee was not the first to recognize the college’s work. During a celebration of the school’s five-year anniversary in 2006, Alaska Lt. Governor Loren Leman told the gathering, “Alaska Christian College (ACC) is one of the best things happening in education in Alaska.” Leman was the first Alaska Native elected to statewide office.

The ABHE decision will not change the school’s need for donations to continue further financial assistance to students and growth of the school’s offerings, Hamilton said. The government aid will not cover all of the costs, and students have a difficult time making up the difference.

Unemployment in some villages runs higher than 40 percent, and many of the students must help their families with subsistence farming and fishing during breaks in the school year, Hamilton said.

School representatives had not expected to learn the committee’s decision for another two days. Schools generally are notified on the Friday just prior to the annual banquet so that all of the newly accredited institutions can be honored.

Hamilton said it is unusual for a school to achieve the “candidate for accreditation” status so soon after its formation. He recalled the words of the ABHE executive director when the college began its process: “No one that I know of has, in the history of the association, had the audacity to seek accreditation with such a young institution.”

Today, that audacity was rewarded, and Hamilton is looking forward to Friday’s banquet, when that pride again will be on display. “We will be wearing our Kuspuk outfits,” Hamilton said, referring to the Native Alaskan clothing.

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