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Oct. 12, 2011
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU’s chemistry program earns ACS accreditation

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Slippery Rock University has earned five-year accreditation from the Washington, D.C.-based, American Chemical Society, an accolade Donald Zapien, professor of chemistry, calls “a major milestone for our program.”

            Zapien said he had long pursued the prestigious accreditation. ACS, the world’s largest chemical society, thoroughly reviews the classroom programs, faculty, equipment and research under way at an institution of higher education before granting accreditation.

            “It has been a long and involved process, but well worth the effort. Our faculty and our administration have been overwhelmingly supportive of our efforts to earn accreditation. They were behind us every step of the way,” Zapien said.

            To cite an example, he said of the University purchased a $175,000 nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, which is used to deduce structure of organic molecules and is required by ACS as part of its accreditation standards.

            “I am certainly proud of all the hard work and study that went into obtaining ACS accreditation for our chemistry program, and I commend all of the faculty and staff involved in the process,” said Robert Smith, SRU president. “This is another accreditation that demonstrates the effort of all of SRU’s faculty in working to assure that our students have access to programs that meet and exceed national standards.”       

ACS promotes excellence in chemistry education for undergraduate students through approval of baccalaureate chemistry programs. ACS-approved programs offer a broad-based and rigorous chemistry education that gives students intellectual, experimental and communication skills to become effective scientific professionals.     

            In order to better understand ACS’s accreditation procedures, Zapien began attending the society’s national meetings in 2007. “I met with their officials, and I brought back to campus their guidelines so we could work on programs to meet their expectations,” he said.

            SRU’s chemistry department submitted its extensive self-study report in early-2010. The report covered all of the University’s course offerings, infrastructure, special programs, projects and research under way by department faculty.

The department was granted an opportunity to appear before the ACS’s committee on professional training in Boston. “The committee deemed our program well enough on its way toward accreditation to grant approval for a visit by a site evaluator,” Zapien said.

An outside evaluator came to campus in April where he met with department faculty, students, Bailey Library staff, administrators and others. “There was a meeting with 20 students and the evaluator got a good look at the department and its equipment before leaving to write his report,” Zapien said.

ACS’s committee on professional training accepted the evaluator’s report and granted the accreditation, he said. The accreditation approval was announced in Washington, D.C.

            “As an accredited institution, SRU students can now include that accreditation on job resumes and in interviews talking with potential employers. Employers often seek employees from accredited programs,” Zapien said. “The accreditation also shows SRU’s chemistry program is meeting national standards.”

            Earlier this year, SRU received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. That accreditation covered the entire University’s course offerings and program. The Middle States accreditation was granted with the notation that the University had met all 14 of the commission’s standards, and the commission gave SRU nine commendations.          The Commission on Sport Management Accreditation awarded the University’s sports management program accreditation earlier this year.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.