October 20, 2010

Chemistry-biochemistry department re-accredited

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill -- A national accrediting agency has once again given its stamp of approval to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The American Chemical Society has granted a five-year re-accreditation to the department’s Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programs, lending its prestige to the long-standing SIUC programs through 2014. The accreditation follows several years of preparation, officials said.

ACS is a congressionally chartered organization representing professionals in all fields of chemistry and sciences involving chemistry, and is a leading accreditation body for chemistry programs in the United States. Gaining its approval is important not only for the University, but also its students, officials said.

“Having accreditation through ACS demonstrates that you are giving the training in chemistry that meets the same expectations and standards that you would get in any other such-accredited program at any other university,” said Gary R. Kinsel, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at SIUC. “This is a major accomplishment and it took a lot of hard work by a lot of people in our department, and they deserve the credit.”

The ACS’ Committee on Professional Training conducted the review and cited the SIUC programs’ rigorous standards, as well as the “good curricular breadth of the coursework” in approving its request. It also commended the department for re-fashioning portions of its approach to reflect changes in the ACS guidelines for accreditation related to curriculum.

Kinsel said the new guidelines prompted department personnel to review the curriculum structure to ensure it was teaching both foundational and in-depth courses in analytical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. In some cases, this required simple adjustments while in others, wholesale reorganization.

“It took us the better part of two years to get everything ready to comply with these new guidelines,” Kinsel said. “Much of what was in the new guidelines we were doing already, but it took a lot of work to get it all organized. It’s also given us lot of flexibility in terms of being more creative in specialties and tracts we can design for students.”

Jay C. Means, dean of the College of Science, said the chemistry and biochemistry department is one of the longest-accredited departments in the college and the University. Its most-recent five-year accreditation -- the longest accreditation period ACS awards and another sign of its confidence in SIUC’s programs -- will help the University maintain the programs’ strength for students and research, he said.

“The ACS is acknowledging the hard work the faculty has done, as well as the ongoing excellence in terms of offering a diverse and rich curriculum for undergraduate students,” Means said.