Southern Connecticut State University's master of library science program is no longer nationally accredited. Earlier this month, the American Library Association heard Southern's appeal of a June decision to withdraw accreditation. Yet on Monday, October 28, the school was notified the ALA has upheld its original decision. The program had been on probation for several issues, including an outdated curriculum, and faculty productivity.
So how does this affect a prospective student to Southern's MLS program? Richard Conroy is the Director of the Essex Public Library and President of the Connecticut Library Association. WNPR asked him what it means to have a degree from a non-ALA accredited program.
"It's the difference between going to a prestigious university like Yale or Harvard or a community college," Conroy said. "There's nothing wrong with community colleges but if you're a company with a high level person with professional qualifications then you look for a person that goes to a school that's been accredited."
As of Thursday afternoon, current students still had not been notified by the school.
Dr. Gregory Paveza, the interim dean of Southern's Graduate Studies program, said the university is naturally disappointed in the decision, but plans to re-apply for ALA accreditation in the future. In a letter provided to WNPR, the ALA had informed Southern as far back as 2003 that there were problems with its master's program.
Meanwhile, current students in Southern's MLS program will have two years to finish their work and will still be able to receive an ALA accredited degree. That affects 134 full- and part-time students. But it appears the accreditation woes have hurt enrollment. Earlier this month, Southern said 175 students were enrolled.
With the ALA's decision, there is no longer an accredited master's program in library science at any college or university in Connecticut.