January 25, 2018 at 2:46 pm

OPIE Earns Five-Year Initial Accreditation

Faculty and staff in the Ohio Program of Intensive English pose for a photo with the certificate they received from the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation acknowledging the program’s initial five-year accreditation.

Faculty and staff in the Ohio Program of Intensive English pose for a photo with the certificate they received from the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation acknowledging the program’s initial five-year accreditation.

Ohio University’s Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE) ended its 50th anniversary year on an especially high note, receiving the highest degree of initial accreditation from the nation’s leading accrediting body for intensive English programs.

Accreditation achievement

Established in 1967, OPIE was the first university English language program in Ohio and continues to be one of the leading English programs in the United States. Over the past 50 years, thousands of students from throughout the world have enrolled in OPIE courses on the Athens Campus designed to improve their English and prepare them linguistically and culturally to live and study/work in the United States. OPIE’s work has resulted in countless international connections for Ohio University and a more diverse campus and community.

The OPIE office was notified in mid-December that the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) had granted the program a five-year initial accreditation, the highest degree of initial accreditation awarded by the accrediting agency. The decision followed an approximately two-and-a-half-year comprehensive review of the program that included the development of a self-study report and a three-day site visit from a CEA review team.

A specialized accrediting agency focused on post-secondary intensive English programs and institutions, the CEA’s mission is to promote excellence in the field of English language teaching and administration as well as to protect the interest of students through accreditation of English language programs and institutions worldwide. With its accreditation, OPIE joins the ranks of 334 sites worldwide and only eight sites in the state of Ohio.

Dr. Gerry Krzic, portrait

Dr. Gerry Krzic

“This achievement means many things for OPIE and Ohio University, but, most importantly, it means that we’re assured that our program meets the highest professional standards,” said Dr. Gerard Krzic, who has served as director of OPIE since 2005. “If a student wants to come and study through OPIE, they’re going to be assured of a quality experience. I think we had that already, but now it’s officially confirmed and recognized by the highest professional accrediting organization of its kind.”

Krzic noted that the accreditation is the result of efforts made by the entire OPIE team as well as individuals employed in OHIO offices that routinely interact with OPIE, including the Office of Admissions, International Student and Faculty Services, and the Linguistics Department. He extended special thanks to Becky Challenger, an OPIE associate lecturer and assistant director for outreach and curriculum who served as the accreditation self-study coordinator and spearheaded the accreditation process.

“It is such a relief to see the formal confirmation of the quality of our program reflected through this accreditation decision,” Challenger said, noting that the accreditation process began in June 2015 when OPIE submitted its application to the CEA.

Rebecca Challenger, portrait in her office

Rebecca Challenger

According to Challenger, the self-study part of the process began in January 2016, culminating in a self-study report OPIE submitted to the CEA in March 2017.

“There were 44 standards that we had to respond to that ranged from our curriculum and student services to our administration, fiscal capacities and internal review processes,” Challenger said. “It was an intense process that required comprehensive responses to the standards that the CEA had developed as being best practice standards in the field of intensive English programs.”

OPIE divided the CEA standards into committees that were tasked with drafting the responses.

“Our entire faculty had some voice in the writing of our report,” Challenger said, giving special credit to the individuals who chaired the committees. Those individuals included: Linn Forhan, the former assistant director of OPIE who recently retired after 40 years of service to OHIO; Kristina Guyton, an associate lecturer in OPIE; Sally Hatfield, an associate lecturer and Bridge level coordinator in OPIE; Krzic; Karen Schmitt, an associate lecturer in OPIE; and David Telega, a lecturer in OPIE.

“This recognition builds on OPIE’s already well-established legacy,” Krzic said. “It’s another component of Ohio University that is being recognized internationally, and I think it will help us with the prominence of our name, with our visibility and with the recruiting of students.”

“Ohio University boasts a history rich in global engagement and service. That history is made even richer by programs like OPIE that bring the world to Ohio University and Ohio University to the world,” said President M. Duane Nellis. “OPIE’s accreditation is yet another example of the University’s commitment to academic excellence. Just as Ohio University serves as Ohio’s first and finest university, OPIE serves as the first university English language program in Ohio, one of the finest in the nation and now stands as one of the elite programs accredited internationally.”


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