WestConn High honors for business school
Graduates of the Ancell School of Business at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury will have a further leg up on the competition now that the school has received accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
David G. Martin, dean of the Ancell School of Business, said the designation places WCSU among the top 5 percent of business schools in the world. Martin said there are about 15,000 business schools throughout the world and just over 800 are AACSB accredited.
“It’s a very unique and high-quality group,” Martin said. “We’re in a pretty special class of schools.”
John B. Clark, president of WCSU, said the accreditation immediately lifts the profile of the business school and makes students’ resumes more enticing to prospective employers.
“It confirms and documents the excellent education they receive at the Ancell school,” he said. “The accreditation also illustrates the excellence of our faculty members, whose work now ranks officially among the best in the world.”
Clark added that the designation adds an extra layer of prestige to the university as a whole. Most of the departments at WCSU hold accreditations.
“Recognition of the business school by AACSB is another point in our message that WestConn offers an exceptional education that can be considered by highly motivated students,” he said.
WCSU joins Connecticut business schools with the accreditation including Yale, the University of Connecticut, Fairfield University, Sacred Heart University, Quinnipiac University, University of New Haven, University of Hartford, the Coast Guard Academy and Central Connecticut State University.
There are two other business accreditations, but Martin said the AACSB is the most prestigious.
“We have said for years that the Ancell School of Business has been performing at a very high level for a long time, and this proves it,” said Dr. Missy Alexander, WCSU provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Long time coming
Earning it was not an easy process. Martin became the dean of the Ancell School of Business four years ago and made earning the designation his top priority.
“We had to get ourselves focused on accreditation. It’s a rigorous and lengthy review. It typically takes about five years,” Martin said. “It was a lot of work and everyone contributed: the 32 full-time faculty members, the adjunct professors, the office staff, the library personnel. It permeated the organization, including the president and provost.”
In the spring of 2016, he brought the deans of three other universities to WCSU to take part in a mock visit. The visiting deans pointed out some areas that needed improvement and Martin oversaw the changes.
“We have worked for several years toward AACSB accreditation, but David Martin and the Ancell School faculty and staff have led us over the finish line,” Clark said. “We relied on their knowledge and work to build a business school deserving of this most prestigious accreditation.”
The review process looked at the school’s strategy, finances, assessment methods, curriculum and faculty. Martin has great familiarity with the process as he has been involved with AACSB in various volunteer capacities since the late 1990s.
“The two more important words with AACSB are ‘continuous improvement,’” he said. “We want to get better in whatever we do.”
The AACSB was founded in 1916 and is based in Tampa, Fla., with additional offices in Amsterdam and Singapore. It offers accreditations for business and accounting programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels
Western’s accreditation is valid through 2023 when it is due for another review.
About 900 students take business courses at the Ancell School of Business, which offers a variety of bachelor’s degrees in addition to MBA and MHA, or Master of Healthcare Administration, programs. The bachelor’s degrees include accounting, finance, management, management information systems and marketing.
The school was endowed in 1980 by Nathan Ancell, founder of Ethan Allen, the home furnishing company headquartered in Danbury.
Martin said WCSU educates a student body with a different profile than many of its state counterparts. About 45 percent of the students are first-generation college students. Martin said the goal with many students is to move them from “blue collar to white collar careers” and the AACSB accreditation will help in that regard.
“At the end of the day it comes down to this: We have a well-run business school,” he said.
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