ROCKPORT — Maine Media has achieved accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). Membership with the commission recognizes the quality and educational excellence in the programs of study at Maine Media.
Maine Media President Michael Mansfield noted the accomplishment. “Maine Media has been on a remarkable journey over the last 50 years. What an exceptional achievement,” he said. “This is an important acknowledgment of the creative spirit here on campus, and the human energy that makes this place so electric. We were founded on the very idea that artists share, teach and learn from one another. This recognition from the New England Commission of Higher Education gives compelling testimony to that idea.”
Accreditation and membership with the Commission carries many benefits, including the expansion of student access to federal financial assistance programs for both Maine Media’s low-residency MFA program as well as its two professional certificate programs in photography and filmmaking. The Commission also conferred approval for Maine Media’s distance education programs, further enabling online certificate programs, virtual courses and workshops.
Academic credit in various programs of study, such as advanced level and master workshops, could now be eligible for transfer to other accredited colleges and universities through new institutional partnerships and credit sharing agreements.
The Commission is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as an authority on the quality of education for the institutions it accredits. The accreditation process itself is rigorous and verifies that Maine Media meets or exceeds nine distinct standards including mission and purpose, planning, governance, research, teaching, resources, educational effectiveness and institutional integrity.
Nils Tcheyan, chair of the board of directors said, “Accreditation supports students at Maine Media to meet their creative potential and affirms the value of our innovative programs as educational models evolve. The process and relationship with NECHE, including critical self-evaluations over an eight-year period, has made us a better educational institution. Initiated under President Meg Weston in 2015 and guided by President Mansfield since 2020, this represents the achievement of a core strategic goal. The board particularly wants to recognize Provost Elizabeth Greenberg for her commitment and leadership throughout this process and her focus on our mission to enable students to achieve their creative potential.”
Since beginning the process of accreditation, Maine Media has evolved as an institution of higher learning and adopted the commission’s standards to strengthen its education programs, financial health and governance responsibilities. In addition to raising academic standards and affirming new learning opportunities for students in that time, Maine Media has also established a $1 million operating reserve titled The Keystone Fund, and secured an endowment from the Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation in excess of $1.1 million. Maine Media has also designed and implemented programs online and extended access in real time for students around the globe.
Elizabeth Greenberg, Maine Media’s Arnold and Augusta Newman provost said, “I am thrilled that Maine Media College has achieved accreditation. This recognition affirms our commitment to providing students with a rigorous and comprehensive education in the media arts through life-long learning opportunities for students of all ages from 14 to 100. Maine Media is a unique institution in the landscape of higher education, and the process of achieving accreditation has strengthened and improved our programs for adult learners to pursue their creative aspirations. I am inspired by the opportunities that can now be available for the school and our students.”
Not by coincidence, Maine Media celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. In addition to accreditation, a major exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art titled “Drawn to the Light: 50 Years of Photography at Maine Media” opens June 15. Other anniversary events include an expanded workshop program, public lectures, a Visionary Awards Dinner, and a special edition book to be published in September.
President Mansfield added, “We have a great deal to celebrate. Our 50th year finds Maine Media in a particularly bright moment, and accreditation adds a lot of light. We’re embarking on a strategic planning process that will undoubtedly benefit from membership with the commission. In terms of advancing human understanding and imagination in visual art – implicit in our mission – it’s an entirely new chapter for our school and for the arts in Maine.”