Shepherd art programs receive NASAD accreditation

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV—Shepherd University’s Department of Contemporary Art and Theater has been approved for membership in the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The B.A. in art education and the B.F.A. in graphic design, painting, photography, computer imagery, printmaking and sculpture were approved for accreditation. Shepherd’s program is only the second in West Virginia to receive the accreditation.

Rhonda Smith (left), chair of the Department of Contemporary Art and Theater, and Dow Benedict, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, are both excited the department has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Rhonda Smith (left), chair of the Department of Contemporary Art and Theater, and Dow Benedict, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, are both excited the department has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

“It establishes what the art department has known for a very long time—that our programs are unique and that they offer a really good learning experience for our students,” said Rhonda Smith, chair of the Department of Contemporary Art and Theater. “That has been validated by this accreditation, so we’re really, really pleased.”

Dow Benedict, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, said earning accreditation from NASAD has been a long and demanding process that involved a thorough examination and evaluation of facilities, faculty, curriculum, students, and graduates.

“NASAD accreditation is the highest level of peer evaluation that can be achieved by a visual art and design program,” Benedict said. “They have only accredited about 350 schools in the world, and accreditation by NASAD indicates Shepherd has achieved a standard expected of a program of premier quality.”

Benedict pointed out Shepherd joins other accredited schools in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., metro region such as the Maryland Institute College of Art and Design, the Corcoran School of Art and George Mason University.

The Sculpture I class recently spent the afternoon on the patio between CCA I and CCA II creating small metal pieces. Art Professors Christian Benefiel and Mike Mendez oversaw the process, which involved using a small furnace fired by used cooking oil to melt scrap metal that was poured into molds the students made.

The Sculpture I class recently spent the afternoon on the patio between CCA I and CCA II creating small metal pieces. Art Professors Christian Benefiel and Mike Mendez oversaw the process, which involved using a small furnace fired by used cooking oil to melt scrap metal that was poured into molds the students made.

“Accreditation of the visual arts program at Shepherd places us in a highly unique respected category of school,” Benedict said.

Smith said she often fields questions from prospective students and their parents asking if the program is accredited, and she hopes the fact that it is will make coming to Shepherd a more attractive option for students interested in pursuing art.

“I think for lots of people accreditation becomes one of those things they’re looking for in a college,” Smith said.