Industrial engineering program awaits accreditation, state approval

Delays push back start of the new Ashland University degree a year


Logan Gray

Dauch College of Business and Economics

Ashland University’s (AU) planned industrial engineering program is awaiting approval by the Ohio Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), says Dan Fox, interim dean for the College of Business and Economics.

“The next phase is to get it approved by the Higher Learning Commission, as well as the Ohio Department of Education,” said Fox. “So it’s in that process right now. We submitted the application shortly after it was approved in May, and then the Higher Learning Commission and Ohio Department of Education did a joint review visit, and then peer reviewers come in, and they review the program, and then they make recommendations of whether the program should be approved, or whether it should not be approved.”

The program was initially approved by AU in May of 2022. Still, its approval process by the commission and the Ohio Department of Education was delayed when a reviewer had some familial health problems.

“I think it’s back on track, and so we’re working with HLC, and we should hopefully have news we hope within the next month or two of whether it’s approved or not,” he added.

AU President Dr. Carlos Campo stated, “We’re not gonna be able to intake students for this fall, so it looks like it will have to be next fall before we take any students in the program.”

Due to the delay in review, the program cannot be advertised to prospective students.

While the university has approved the program, it cannot be advertised until the HLC and the Ohio Department of Education approved it.

“We’re excited too. It’s been hard; some coaches have contacted me and said, ‘Hey, we have a student that’s interested,’ and I just say, ‘You know, it’s not approved yet.’ I can not say that we have a program yet,” Fox said. “While we have the program approved at the university, it hasn’t been approved by [the] Higher Learning Commission and the Ohio Department of Education. So that’s where we’re at.”

“I think what it will allow us to do is to provide a program that right now in the marketplace is popular. Engineering is popular, and so, we have quite a few students who inquire if we have an engineering program right now, and we say no, so it doesn’t give us an opportunity,” he added.

The main focus is planned to be industrial engineering.

“It’s kind of one of the older engineering-type degrees,” said Fox. “And we chose that one because we felt that was doable for Ashland, it doesn’t take a significant amount of labs and equipment. [As] mechanical as you can imagine, you have to have quite a bit of laboratory space for your classes. Chemical engineering would be the same thing. You would have to have quite the lab and resources to do that.”

The spaces required for the engineering program would occupy some labs already on campus rather than generating new labs.

“We’re gonna retrofit an existing lab that we have, is our plan to do… probably put some better equipment in it,” he stated.

According to Fox, the Archers donated $700,000 to the new engineering program.

“Bob Archer gave money to the program, so there’s sufficient funding,” Fox said. “If we do need any additional kind of lab equipment or software, we have it.”

“It’s a way for us to attract a student right now that’s interested in engineering, that otherwise will not come here,” he continued. “I think it has the potential to offer for the entire university something we haven’t been able to do before and that is attract the students in high school that decide they wanna be engineers. And because of that, they don’t give us a look. Now they’re going to give us a look.”