The University of Lynchburg has been reaccredited by the National Association of Schools of Music until the 2030-31 academic year.
“[It’s] a recognition by our peers at the national level that our offerings in the study and performance of music meet our peers’ nationally established standards for music study at the college/university level,” said F. Johnson Scott, III, an assistant professor of music at Lynchburg.
Scott called the reaccreditation an “exciting accomplishment” for Lynchburg and added, “It’s national, so in a sense it puts you on the national stage with your peers.”
Lynchburg, which offers bachelor’s degrees in music and music education, is one of only 14 colleges and universities in the commonwealth of Virginia to be accredited by the NASM. Only two of these institutions are private, like Lynchburg, which is of great significance to Scott.
“It’s really very exciting, given that all but one of the other schools are state universities and colleges,” he said. “We’re approved and accredited by the same organization that accredits James Madison, Old Dominion, and other state universities, and we meet the standards for our music program in the same manner they do.”
Lynchburg was first accredited by the NASM in 2104. According to Scott, accreditation isn’t mandatory and it’s the college or university, not the music program itself, that’s accredited. It’s an exhaustive, multistep process, but Scott said it’s worth it.
It starts with a self-study that covers a host of areas: purpose of the institution and music program, program size and scope, financial support, faculty credentials, library resources, recordkeeping, advising, technology, recruitment and retention, health and safety, and others.
“It really makes you take time addressing your program,” Scott said.
The self-study is then reviewed by two visitors — faculty from comparably sized colleges or universities that are selected by the NASM. The visitors “do a deeper dig,” Scott said, examining the entire University curriculum and addressing questions or concerns about courses that appear to be music-related.
For example, he explained, a couple of Lynchburg’s history classes include music components, but in the end were not deemed “music courses.” As one might expect, Music History and Literature, a music department course, was.
“They go through the entire course catalog and … request syllabi to look at courses that appear to address music. They accredit colleges and schools and institutions in the big broad sense, not simply programs. That means when they work on accreditation, they review our entire catalog.
“If any course offers more than 20% music, it has to be reviewed.”
They also visit the University. “They observe teaching in multiple classrooms and rehearsals,” Scott said. “They observe private lessons and they request recitals by music majors from across the spectrum, from a variety of perspectives, freshmen through seniors, and across the different instrumentations and voices.
“They’re looking at it as holistically as they can.”