August 1, 2012 – Dr. Jerry Mobley, an associate professor in the Fort Valley State University’s College of Education, is feeling good these days. After six years, the former chair of the campus’ school counselor education program and his department received a stamp of approval from one of the nation’s leading accrediting organizations.
The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, the blue-ribbon standard for the nation’s counselor educator programs, recently accredited FVSU’s graduate degree program until 2014. FVSU is the only historically black university in Georgia, and one of six nationwide, to receive CACREP approval for their school counselor program. In addition, the program is the only accredited one offered in Middle Georgia.
“Having CACREP accreditation makes our school counselor program a premiere one,” said Dr. Edward Hill, FVSU’s College of Education Dean.
CACREP is an independent organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, a nonprofit collective of colleges and universities that promote regulation through accreditation. From July 12-15, the three-member visiting team arrived in Fort Valley to conduct its assessment process. They interviewed FVSU faculty, students, administrators and field supervisors who managed current students enrolled in the program.
Mobley, who led FVSU’s preparations for CACREP approval, explained that preparations for CACREP accreditation began in 2005. The school counselor education faculty learned at a Board of Regents’ conference called “Raising the Curtain” that all University System of Georgia counselor educator programs should obtain the CACREP seal of approval.
“The process was very much like [preparations for] Southern Association of Colleges accreditation,” says Mobley. “We sent a self-study in to CACREP. They reviewed it, asked questions, and we responded. At some point in time, they said that the program is a strong, valid candidate; then, they came to verify it.”
According to Hill, FVSU President Dr. Larry Rivers and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Julius Scipio were instrumental in making accreditation for the program a reality.
“The commitment from FVSU’s administration—the Office of the President, the Office of Academic Affairs and the College of Graduate Studies and Extended Education—for the school counseling educator program has been superior,” said Hill.
Not only did FVSU officials provide money to hire three fulltime professors (to meet CACREP’s 2009 accreditation requirements) and two adjuncts, they also funded $10,000 to upgrade library resources at the university’s Warner Robins Center branch.
“The level of stuff we have in Galileo [journal database] is amazing,” said Mobley. “Dr. Annie Payton [former director of FVSU’s Hunt Memorial Library] made sure that students had enough hard copies of the books.” The program has 269 holdings in the library, with another 3,000 mental health programs. These include books, three journals and 44 online journals, plus another 325 related online journals.
Dr. Teah Moore, interim chair for the school counselor education program, says that CACREP accreditation means that the program will draw more high caliber students.
“One student e-mailed me to check and see if we’d received accreditation,” said Moore. “The student’s decision to enroll at FVSU was based on whether CACREP approved our program. Many counselor-related jobs or graduate schools don’t accept applicants from programs that haven’t been CACREP accredited. The student was finally happy to learn that our accreditation was approved, and will be attending our school.”
In addition to the College of Education’s recent achievement, the department holds accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Hill says that the graduate program’s accreditation is only the beginning.
“It’s our goal to have other College of Education programs accredited,” said Hill. “The accreditation process helped the school counselor education faculty to undergo a self-reflection process to find ways to make the program even better. It’s going to take all of our stakeholders to do this, [including] the school districts, faculty, alumni, administration and students.”
For more information about the school counselor education program, call (478) 825-6365.
Christina D. Milton, writer
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