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UA library program faces loss of accreditation

By Eric Swedlund
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 2, 1999
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UA officials said yesterday they plan to "vigorously" appeal a decision to withdraw accreditation from the School of Information Resources and Library Science.

The American Library Association last month voted to rescind the official endorsement of the school, which could affect 161 students in the Master of Arts program.

"We are going to vigorously appeal the decision," said Holly Smith, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. "It is hard to imagine it won't be successful."

If the appeal fails, students will have 18 months to complete their degrees with the school's accreditation credentials intact.

Smith called the causes for the loss of accreditation "vague," saying specific reasons were not clearly outlined in the ALA's statement.

ALA's accreditation chairman, James Baughman, stated in a Feb. 1 letter that, "both faculty resources and budget resources that are allocated to the program are inadequate to achieve your own mission, goals and objective."

UA President Peter Likins stated in letter to the ALA that the university was "shocked" by the decision. He cited an ALA review panel's recommendation for the renewal of the school's accreditation, which was later overturned.

"It is our feeling there is something else going on here that they are not being very candid about," Smith said.

Likins' letter, dated Feb. 24, gave the ALA notice of an intent to appeal the decision and requested more information regarding the decision.

The UA will conduct a "strong and vigorous appeal of what certainly appears to be a capricious decision by (the ALA) committee," the letter stated.

UA officials have six weeks to file with the ALA's Executive Board, but requested additional time to clarify why the accreditation was denied, Smith said. The ALA board will then select a committee of at least five people to review the decision.

An external panel for the ALA visited Oct. 4-6 to review the program and make suggestions, but supported only monitoring the program.

The panel found that the program conformed to ALA standards, but recommended monitoring the school's program growth and hiring of more faculty.

"This has come to us as a complete surprise," said Judith Becker, acting director for the library school, in a letter dated Feb. 17.

John Holberg, a second year graduate student, said he was confident the school would have the ALA's decision overturned.

"I don't think finally the accreditation will be withdrawn," he said. "As we've seen from the evidence, they (ALA) don't have any grounds for withdrawing the accreditation."

Check out the UA's School of Information Resources and Library Science's homepage.