Alaska Christian College was granted accreditation by the Association for Biblical Higher Education last week.
“We are approved by the U.S. Department of Education through our accrediting agency as a fully accredited institution of higher learning,” ACC president Keith Hamilton explained. “It’s that official stamp of approval from the federal government that we are meeting all the criteria necessary to be an accredited college.”
Randal Bell, Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Accreditation President, said for being in existence a short time, the college is excelling.
“I am proud of the school,” Bell said. “I am proud of the progress they’ve made in their short history. They are significantly transforming the lives of their students.”
Bell was able to visit the college one spring around graduation time.
“They had the students telling their stories, it’s a very moving experience,” he said. ”Some of the stories are such that it’s hard not to have tears in your eyes.”
ACC has been in the accreditation process for nine of the 11 years the institution has been established.
“It’s a victory for Alaska Native education and for the Kenai Peninsula as well,” Hamilton said.
ACC enrolled 49 students this semester, which is the largest class in the college’s history.
“Everything is looking really positive,” Hamilton said.
The next step, Hamilton said, is to receive authorization from the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education in July so the college can start offering an Associates of Arts degree in the fall.
“That’s the big plus on this one that we’ve been waiting for,” Hamilton said of the accreditation status. “It takes us to a new level of offering Christian higher education to Alaska Natives.”
Now that ACC has received accreditation, students may be able to transfer 100-level science and art credits to Kenai Peninsula College through a review process since public universities accreditation is controlled by regional accreditation bodies. Alaska’s public universities are controlled by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.
Paula Martin, KPC Assistant Director of Student Affairs, said they are working with ACC on a non-regional accreditation process.
“(That would) allow some of their 100-level courses in arts and sciences after review by our art and science faculty,” Martin explained.
Martin said the transfers can take place on a case-by-case basis.
“So that’s really a great opportunity both for ACC to have their students receive KPC credit but also for our faculties to work closely together,” she said. “And when we live right next door to each other, having the chance to work closely together is a great thing.”
Hamilton said the possibility of transferring credits would benefit students taking classes at both institutions.
“This allows us to seriously look at co-enrollment,” Hamilton said. “KPC and us are going to be able to share credits back and forth upon their approval.
“(That’s) great for our students who are here and there both. We have students that attend both places and this will help them to receive credit from both institutions towards their degrees.”
With ACC’s enrollment on the rise, Hamilton said the college is prepared for the increase in the near future.
“We’re prepared to house and enroll 60 students this fall,” he said.