Reaccreditation Acknowledges School of Music's Excellence


CHICAGO, IL (January 30, 2009) – Growing up in crowded Shanghai, China, cellist Yu Wei may not have anticipated a distinguished career as a musician with the New York Philharmonic. Likewise, when Deborah Wanderly dos Santos was discovered at a music festival in Brazil, the violinist from a disadvantaged family probably did not imagine that she would one day perform for the Pope as a member of the Youth Orchestra of America.

Besides a great deal of talent and tenacity, these two have something else in common. Both traveled a long way to study at North Park University’s respected school of music, which recently received reaccreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music in December 2008.

With 67 undergraduate majors, 13 minors, four concentrations, one certification, 24 non-major/minor scholarship recipients, and 14 graduate vocal performance majors currently, the school has nearly 70 years of success stories since it was first accredited in 1940.

“This important reaccreditation reflects 68 years of quality by which North Park University’s school of music conducts its business,” explains Rebecca Olthafer, music admissions counselor and director of the school’s operations. “It speaks to a continued sense of public trust, as well as to professional quality in music.”

For students, Olthafer explains, accreditation provides accountability and assurance that the program in which they are enrolled is engaged in continuous review, meeting nationally endorsed standards in the music profession. Typically, the accreditation process includes self-evaluation by the institution combined with an on-site review by a team of evaluators, and judgment by an accreditation commission. Reviews focus not only on educational quality, but also on institutional integrity and educational improvements.

“Graduates of North Park’s music program have gone on to professional music careers as instrumental and choral music educators, leaders of worship, performers with world renowned opera companies, symphony composers, and business executives,” Olthafer notes. Some have even gone on to prominent administrative positions in higher education, like North Park University’s Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Charles Peterson, and its Dean of the School of Education Rebecca Nelson.

“Music plays an integral part of a liberal arts education in that it cultivates general intellectual ability,” adds Olthafer, emphasizing that music creates an integrated emotional and intellectual experience and promotes cooperation, collaboration, and community. “Regardless of degree or career goal, music in a liberal arts education can help students maximize learning . . . building well-rounded, intelligent individuals that can adapt to our ever changing and challenging world.”