St. Bernard's Reaccredited for the Next 10 Years
Jul 11, 2023
Stephen Loughlin, Ph.D.
There is a great deal of work that goes on behind the scenes at St. Bernard’s to provide the educational experience for which we are well known. One of the more humble and rather consuming projects of late has been that of the reaccreditation of our institution by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).
For those of you who are not familiar with the nature and the importance of accreditation, this is something that most educational institutions engage upon to assure both present and future students of a high quality of curricula, instruction, and student support. In our case, St. Bernard’s put itself forward as a graduate Catholic theological school, one that offers a full range of educational opportunities from its four Master’s degrees to a wide variety of certificate programs. These directly address the needs of the Catholic communities St. Bernard’s serves, both here in upstate New York and across the United States, providing not only for their personal enrichment, but in many cases for their ministerial service to the Church. Every student that engages our services must have a reasonable assurance that the claims St. Bernard’s makes and the outcomes the school seeks will be delivered upon, particularly as our programs position each and every student to take up the vocation to which they are called and to serve effectively the people of God. Accreditation is the means whereby this very assurance is provided.
This process, undertaken in earnest since the Spring of 2021, offered the school the opportunity to examine and reflect upon the full scope of its activities to see whether its mission and vision were sufficiently incorporated into the entire range of its academic programs and the varied offices, structures, and operations necessary to support them. To accomplish this, we drew upon the whole of the St. Bernard’s community to form committees charged with examining ten standards established and agreed upon by all educational institutions that seek recognition through ATS, standards that articulate the goals to which graduate schools aspire in providing the very best education that they can to their students. What these committees discerned through this communal discussion formed the basis of a Self-Study that was submitted to ATS for its consideration, specifically for that team of people ATS sent to St. Bernard’s this past March that was charged with examining whether and to what degree St. Bernard’s had addressed these standards in its operations.
Their judgment, just this past month confirmed by ATS’s Board of Trustees, was that St. Bernard’s admirably addresses all these standards in its programs and supporting operations. We were found deserving not only of the continued appellation of a graduate school, but were commended for the manner by which the administration, staff, faculty, Board of Trustees, alumni, and donors all united in true friendship and love to realize the reasons for which St. Bernard’s exists. ATS thus judged St. Bernard’s worthy to receive the maximum time for reaccreditation, ten years, and, in addition to this, offered us sage advice in the areas in which we could improve as an institution during this time.
Our gratitude is immense, both to ATS for its efforts on our behalf, but also and especially to everyone within the St. Bernard’s community that has made and continues to make our school, its programs, and operations possible. May we continue to serve our Lord in this fashion and to ever give thanks to Him for the graces and the love that He has bestowed upon us.