Atlanta -- Dr. R. Alan Culpepper, dean of Mercer's McAfee School of Theology, attended the biennial meeting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in Pittsburgh, June 22-24, to receive full membership into the group as an accredited school of theology.
Accreditation was granted for five years, the longest amount of time ATS will grant a school seeking initial accreditation.
"Receiving ATS accreditation is a milestone event for McAfee because it affirms that the School has an excellent academic program and that it is sound financially," Culpepper said.
Although Mercer University and its nine colleges and schools are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, ATS accreditation lends credibility to the School and is an endorsement of its direction.
ATS accredits more than 240 theological schools, seminaries and divinity schools representing all of the major Christian denominations. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, ATS is the theological education accrediting body for the United States and Canada.
Mercer's McAfee School spent two years in the accreditation process. The first classes at McAfee began in the fall semester of 1996, and the first class graduated in May 1999. In accordance with ATS rules, a school can only begin the accreditation process after it has graduated a class and only at the June biennial meeting, which is held in even-numbered years.
ATS granted McAfee associate member status in June 2000, which marked the beginning of the accreditation process. McAfee then was required to submit an application and host a visit by an ATS staff member.
Following the application and visit, McAfee was allowed in September 2000 to apply for candidate status on an accelerated time schedule because of its strength and quality. That notification triggered the yearlong self-study, which was submitted to ATS in November of 2001.
In February of this year, ATS sent a three-member accreditation team to visit McAfee, and that team returned a recommendation for full, five-year accreditation. The ATS Commission on Accreditation met at the end of May, and notified McAfee of their decision to accredit in early June.
"Finishing the accreditation process has helped McAfee to complete essential tasks in solidifying the School's early development," Culpepper said. "We took accreditation very seriously and as a result are now able to more effectively serve our current students, alumni and sustaining churches."