Transcript Staff

The University of Oklahoma Department of Aviation recently became the first in the Big 12 Conference to be sanctioned by the Council on Aviation Accreditation.

OU's is only the 20th aviation program among 285 in the country to achieve accreditation, officials said last week.

"Major airlines are looking for accreditation as a symbol of quality," said Glenn Schaumburg, OU director of aviation. "This distinction says a degree from an accredited program meets and exceeds industry standards."

James Pappas, OU vice president of outreach, said accreditation recognizes improvements made in OU aviation program in recent years. "With our fleet of 16 new airplanes and this accreditation, our aviation department is uniquely positioned to train the next generation of professionals," he said.

The OU aviation program underwent thorough scrutiny by a team of aviation experts to gain accreditation, Schaumburg said. "We started with a self study that took a year to complete. The study covered our library, course materials, instructors, equipment, paperwork, every aspect of the program."

After reviewing the study, a team from the aviation council visited OU for three days. "They followed up on everything we submitted," Schaumburg said. "They talked to instructors and aviation students and held an outbriefing before they left."

The council team sent a report on the visit to OU and to the council Board of Trustees. "The accreditation is good for five years," Schaumburg said. "In a year we will submit an interim report covering how we addressed some concerns."

The council would like to see more full-time OU faculty teaching aviation courses, Schaumburg said. Richard Van Horn, chair of the aviation program, is the only full-time professor. Adjunct professors teach most of the classes.

"They [the council] also want a new flight simulator for the program," Schaumburg said. "We would like to get alumni involved in that."

He said accreditation for academic aviation programs has existed for some time. Accreditation primarily benefits graduating students, he said.

"When our students graduate and go out in the cold, cruel world, OU accreditation will look good on their resumes ? especially students in aviation management and other non-flying aviation programs."

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