NEASC Accreditation Celebration: The Round Table on Quality Assurance in Higher Education.

To finish the day of festivities, Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane organized a round table, the topic of conversation of which was the place of quality assurance in higher education. The round table itself was staffed by Dr. Driss Ouaouicha, Dr. Barbara Brittingham, Mr. Larbi Belarbi, and Mrs. Amina Benkhadra, and was moderated by Dr. Wafae ElGarah. There were other attendees, including Al Akhawayn University students, faculty, staff, both current and former executives, former directors, partners, and higher education representatives from both the public and the private sectors.

The aim of the round table was to re-establish what accreditation means within AUI in order to look towards the future. It was agreed that while it is easy to oversimplify accreditation by conflating it with a mere state of being, it is much more than a mere certification. As Dr. ElGarah stated, accreditation “allows us to develop a culture—a culture of excellence, a culture of quality where everyone is constantly looking at ways to better improve his or her work” (ElGarah). Thus, while accreditation is the recognition of the institution’s excellence, it simultaneously provides that same institution with the tools to reach even higher: to do more.

This sentiment was echoed by Dr. Thomas W. Keef, President of Dallas University. Rather than thinking of accreditation as an end, Dr. Keef entreated the University officials to view it as a beginning. “Don’t allow yourself to become self-satisfied,” Dr. Keef told officials, “Now that you’ve reach accreditation. […] Be your own best competition […] you are more self-aware of who you are now: take that, and build on that.”

With the conclusion of the quality assurance round table, the Institutional Accreditation Day came to a close. As it ended, so too did a chapter of AUI’s history, but while the chapter is done, the book is far from finished.