Accreditor suggests improvements for University of Iowa business college

'They set out to improve the quality of business education'

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University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business was urged to make “significant progress” in respect to its masters and doctorate programs, according to an accreditation report discussed Monday during a Board of Regents committee meeting.

But college administrators on Monday said that’s well underway — citing new initiatives and program improvements.

“The college looks forward to these external reviews as a way to support our commitment to student success, programmatic innovation, and stakeholder impact,” Tippie Dean Sarah Gardial told The Gazette.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International visited the UI business college in 2014 to review its accreditation — which is awarded to educational programs that meet national standards, indicating graduates are prepared for entry into the profession.

Many employers, graduate schools, and licensure, certification, and registration boards require graduation from an accredited program “as a minimum qualification.”

After Tippie’s 2014 review, the business college was accredited for the maximum five years — through the 2018-2019 school year. And the college’s accreditation status is not at risk, according to Board of Regents spokesman Josh Lehman.

Kurt Anstreicher, senior associate dean for the college, said accreditation typically comes with suggested improvements. And the administration is glad to have the suggestions.

“It’s inconceivable you would get a review that says, ‘Everything’s fine, we’ll be back in five years,’” he said.

“They set out to improve the quality of business education,” said Ken Brown, associate dean of undergraduate education for the college.

Before the next review, accreditors said Tippie “needs to make significant progress with respect to its assurance of learning programs for the MBA and Ph.D. programs.” Specifically, according to the audit report, Tippie should implement and further develop a “mature assurance of learning process for its portfolio of MBA and Ph.D. programs.”

The college also should evaluate academic qualifications of faculty in the management and organizations area, “as it is generally not sufficient for an area engaged in doctoral education.”

“It will be important for Tippie to hire or otherwise develop additional academically-qualified faculty in this area,” according to the report, which mentions a lower percentage of academically qualified faculty in the management and operations department compared with other departments.

The report also found doctoral student placement varies widely among the college’s programs.

“Tippie may wish to consider placement quality in its future allocation of resources across its Ph.D. programs to provide appropriate incentives to departments,” according to the regents report.

Some students commented, per the review, on perceived differences in quality between full-time Tippie faculty and adjunct faculty providing instruction in some of the remote locations.

Dean Gardial told The Gazette her college has made “considerable progress” over the past three years in the areas of concern by implementing a “strengthened assurance of learning tracking system for all MBA programs, as well as hiring an additional tenure track faculty member in entrepreneurship.”

The review also noted strengths in the college, including its John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center’s “significant level of outreach,” and experiential learning opportunities afforded to students.

College administrators on Monday told the regents committee about new undergraduate initiatives and requirements — bolstering that portion of its curriculum and programming.

Still, the report notes, Tippie is affected by the same factors facing business schools nationally — including increased competition from non-traditional entities, changes in the content and pedagogy of business education, state funding reductions, along with changes in business practices.

“While the University of Iowa is the major, state research institution in the state of Iowa, a constraining factor facing Tippie is the relative lack of differentiation between the three major state universities in terms of policies and resource allocation,” according to the report. “Challenges facing Tippie include developing its brand and niche among business schools, building strengths across the college units, improving the physical facilities, increasing diversity among students, faculty, and staff, and enhancing the undergraduate curriculum.”

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