WMU News

CELCIS only fully accredited program in Midwest

March 2, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Since 1975, students from Algeria to Zaire have recognized the Career English Language Center for International Students at Western Michigan University as one of the best places in the United States to learn English.

Now, the nation's first and only accrediting body for intensive English programs, or IEPs, has recognized CELCIS (SELL-sis) as one of a select few U.S. programs and institutions that qualify for accreditation.

The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation was formed in 1999 and announced its inaugural list of five-year accredited programs and institutions this past summer--just as CELCIS was beginning its 25th anniversary celebration.

"There are over 500 IEPs in the United States and we're among the first 12 to receive accreditation," says Laura Latulippe, director of CELCIS. "What a wonderful birthday present. This accreditation shows that we not only provide high-quality instruction, but already employ some of the best practices in our profession."

Of the 12 programs and institutions to be accredited, CELCIS is the only one located in the Midwest. Four are in Texas and one each is based in Washington, D.C., and the states of Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.

WMU began offering CELCIS in 1975-76 to prepare second language learners to study at American higher education institutions. Depending on their proficiency level, students remain in the program for two months to a year.

Initially, CELCIS had a strong career focus, with students taking specially designed classes to help them get ready for specific major areas of study, such as business and the social sciences. Today's program has a broader emphasis--preparing students to succeed academically, regardless of their major areas of study.

About 75 students from more than 20 countries participate in CELCIS each semester and session. After a quarter of a century of operation, thousands of international students from 89 countries have learned English through the program.

CELCIS graduates have included members of various royal families, Olympic athletes, visually and hearing impaired students, members of the Vatican's papal Swiss Guard, a pair of doctors from Bulgaria and a Baptist minister from Siberia who was part of a prisoner exchange during the Carter administration.

"The program really gave us confidence in dealing with others," says Munir Sindi (MOO-near SIN-dy), a former student from Saudi Arabia who enrolled in August 1975 when CELCIS opened its doors. "Besides learning grammar, composition and so on, we learned about the American culture, which was very different."

Sindi, now an architect with a firm he co-owns in Makkah (Mecca), Saudi Arabia, spent a year in the program after arriving rather unexpectedly in America.

He had planned to go to England and study about the United States for three weeks, then make arrangements to enroll in a language training program here. Unfortunately, a mistake on his visa forced him to skip England and come immediately to the United States.

"I didn't have the vaguest idea about anything," Sindi says. "I was in the New York embassy and they told me about this new program in Kalamazoo (CELCIS), so I came here. On the Greyhound to Kalamazoo, a nice lady sat by me. She offered to help me contact Dr. Hendriksen, the director of the program, and he came down and picked me up."

Despite the shaky start, Sindi completed his language training and went on to receive a bachelor's degree from the University of Detroit in 1982 and a master's degree from the University of Kansas at Lawrence in 1988.

"I have a lot of respect for all of my professors, especially those in Kalamazoo," he says. "My (CELCIS) teachers were such nice people. They were very educated, open-minded and dedicated. Back then the training was excellent, and I bet it's even better today."

The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation might well agree.

"The overall impression of CELCIS is that it is a mature, well-run IEP that has strong support on its host campus and respect from its students," the commission says in its site review summary. "Policies and procedures have been thoughtfully developed and carefully documented. Conditions for successful work and learning are optimal."

For more information about CELCIS, call (616) 387-4800 or visit their Web site at <www.wmich.edu/oia/celcis>.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
616 387-8400