Dance department receives high national accreditation

Mercyhurst College’s dance program joined 74 other institutions that have been awarded national accreditation through the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD). This honor was announced at a conference in St. Pete Beach, Fla., on Sept. 10 through 12.

Dance department chair Tauna Hunter and a number of other faculty members worked as a team in applying for this award. For 18 months, the department conducted a self-study of curriculum, faculty, facilities and alumni.

After that time, an accreditation team visited the campus and offered recommendations. The department, along with the administration, worked for one year addressing the recommendations.

“It was a very painful and long process of self-evaluation,” Hunter said. “No one single person wrote the self-study; we were all involved in the analysis and evaluation of the department.”

NASD was founded in 1981, and is an organization of schools, conservatories, colleges and universities. To qualify for this accreditation, a program must meet national standards set by NASD.

The dance department is affected in many ways by being awarded national accreditation. The value of a Mercyhurst College degree in dance is enhanced for current and future graduates.

“The award gives the dance department a national ‘stamp of approval’ that we meet the highest standards for a collegiate dance program,” Hunter said.

“We worked very hard to attain this status and I feel very honored to have been bestowed with this gift of validation,” Hunter said about the accomplishments.

Assistant professor of dance Christine Hay assisted in composing the document’s final draft.

“It was worth it as we were able to make many positive changes to our program through the self-study and guidance of the NASD committee,” Hay said.

The dance department’s national accreditation honor is not the only occasion they have to celebrate; this year marks the department’s 35-year anniversary.