Southeast Dance Program Earns NASD Accreditation

Southeast Missouri State University’s Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance have received five-year accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).

NASD is the national accrediting agency for dance and establishes national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees and other credentials for dance and dance-related disciplines, and provides assistance to institutions and individuals engaged in artistic, scholarly, educational, and other dance-related endeavors.

“We are so pleased to receive NASD accreditation at Southeast and to be part of NASD’s prestigious 82 member organizations,” said Rhonda Weller-Stilson, director of the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

This means Southeast has the same quality training program as such universities as: Point Park University, California Institute of the Arts, Butler University, Florida State University, The Ohio State University, University of Arizona and the University of Illinois.

Additionally, Southeast is now one of only two institutions in Missouri to earn NASD accreditation, said Hilary Peterson, coordinator of dance and assistant professor at Southeast.

“This places our program on a national stage and signifies a standard of excellence in dance training here at Southeast,” she said. “NASD accreditation places our program amongst other top-tier dance programs in the United States and demonstrates the University’s commitment to offering quality dance training and education.”

Every component of the University’s dance program is covered by NASD accreditation, including mission and purposes; ethics and integrity; content and quality of the curriculum; performance and choreography quality; number and quality of faculty, staff and students; facilities and operations; academic and production budgets; professional development; recruitment, admissions and retention; and diversity.

“Accreditation provides Southeast’s dance program the opportunity for continued growth in the quality of course work, technical training and performance programming required of pre-professional dancers,” Peterson said.

Weller-Stilson said Southeast has been working on NASD accreditation for many years, beginning 13 years ago with a major commitment by the Board of Regents and the administration to build and develop the River Campus and its facilities, the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts, and The Conservatory of Theatre and Dance.

In 2001, with the overhaul of the then Department of Theatre and Dance, the dance program was revamped and the Bachelor of Arts in dance and Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance were created. In 2014, a faculty position was created to coordinate and implement administrative and curricular procedures.

“Everything coming together allowed the dance program to focus on growth and sustainment to become a professional training program,” Peterson said.

Southeast joined and participated in NASD as a non-member institution. NASD consultants also visited in 2014 to help Southeast dance program faculty develop elements of its program. A self-study was completed and forwarded to the NASD Commission on Accreditation for its consideration.

A NASD team visited Southeast and compiled a report of necessary action items.

In the fall of 2016, NASD voted to defer Southeast’s bid for accreditation, requesting the program provide additional information about its degree requirements and budget as well as increase the number of faculty. Resolution of these items began last spring, and the program received approval to hire its fifth faculty member who began teaching this fall semester.

This past summer, Southeast submitted the University’s official response to the 2016 NASD Action Report, Peterson said. The Commission on Accreditation reconsidered Southeast’s initial study, its response to the visitation team report and the official response to the NASD Action Report.

“Our faculty, staff and students have worked very hard on strengthening the dance program and bringing this accreditation to our campus,” Weller-Stilson said. “It is an honor to receive this accreditation, and we are proud of everyone involved with this process.”

Southeast’s Conservatory of Theatre and Dance trains students with a multitude of extraordinary experiences and contact with industry professionals worldwide, preparing them to launch extraordinary careers when they graduate.