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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU's range science program receives reaccreditation

The range science program in New Mexico State University's Department of Animal and Range Sciences has been reaccredited for 10 years by the Society of Range Management, proving that the program continues to provide a quality education to students by quality faculty.

"To be reaccredited shows that we have a strong program that is important to the department; to the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; and to the university," said Tim Ross, department head. "It is the measure of the quality of our program and our graduates and how they are going to perform in the professional arena."

Derek Bailey, an associate professor in range science, who took the lead in preparing the reaccreditation process, said there are few universities in the country that offer an accredited range science program. In North America, a total of 46 colleges and universities currently offer range science and management courses in their curriculum.

"We are one of only nine accredited universities in the country that also has an accredited range science program," said Derek Bailey. "Based on standards set by our peers and our administration, this program has met all the requirements for reaccreditation."

The department is accredited, but this process was specifically for the range sciences program.

As part of the reaccreditation process, faculty in the range science program were required to put together a self-evaluation and a written report about the program.

In November, a committee made up of representatives from accredited and nonaccredited universities, members of the Society of Range Management, and professionals from careers that potentially hire graduates from the range science program visited the NMSU campus. They spent three days talking to faculty members and graduate and undergraduate students in the program, as well as administrative staff. The committee also spoke with community members who have hired the program's graduates. Committee members wanted to get a feel for the employers' opinions about the quality of training and skills the students had after completing the program.

Bailey said the committee was looking for key components during their visit. They wanted to know the mission, goals and objectives of the program, and how those goals fit into the goals of the university. They wanted to know that the instructors are actively involved in research projects and whether the students have extracurricular activities available to them to help them enhance their skills in the program.

Ross said this process helps the department determine if it is providing the industry with graduates who are trained professionals capable of meeting industry needs.

Maintaining accreditation is also a way to attract potential faculty to the university and to justify training for instructors so they can continue to provide quality education, Bailey said.

NMSU first offered students courses in range science in 1925. This is the third time the program has been reaccredited for a new 10-year period.