Aug. 28, 1997
KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's interior design program has earned the highest accreditation level offered by the nation's only accreditation agency dedicated to interior design.
The Foundation for Interior Design Education Research granted the WMU program a six-year accreditation following a rigorous preparation period and an intensive examination that took place this spring.
The foundation is a highly selective accrediting agency dedicated to upgrading interior design education programs across the country. The group is comprised of professionals and educators from within the interior design discipline.
"I'm delighted because the faculty have worked so hard on getting this program accredited and it verifies what we've always known -- that we have a very good program," says Dr. Linda L. Dannison, chairperson of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, which houses the interior design program.
Prior to granting the accreditation, the foundation evaluated many aspects of the interior design curriculum, including facilities, cohesiveness of the program, and faculty qualifications and workload. However, department officials say the most significant factor considered was the level of competence shown by students in their work.
"The accreditation agency is more concerned with what it sees students produce than what we say we do," says Pat B. Viard, assistant professor of family and consumer sciences and a long-time professor in the program. "The emphasis of the review is really on where the students are."
The WMU interior design program was created in the late 1970s and has evolved to a highly competitive, professional level program that requires an intense skill in design. A maximum of 18 students are accepted into the bachelor's degree program each year.
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