Faith in God is not a mere platitude believers learn
through experience that God has a plan far better
than human intellect can envision. Believers are to
walk by faith. – Dr. John Brock
Almost immediately, I traveled to the NCA’s headquarters in Chicago, merely hoping to find some literature regarding accreditation with NCA. Surprisingly, a distinguished gentleman greeted me. “I’m Thurston Manning, president of this organization.” Shaking my hand, he continued, “Please, call me Ted.”
He then led me to his executive office, where we talked for three hours about the accreditation process. When I brought up Maranatha’s small size, he was encouraging. “There are really only four criteria for accreditation with NCA: a) the institution must have a mission consistent with higher education, b) it must have resources organized to accomplish that mission, c) it must show evidence that it is accomplishing that mission, and d) it must demonstrate that it has the capacity to continue doing so.”
After I reported back to Maranatha’s president and administration, we decided to move forward with NCA as long as God kept the door open.
The Board of Trustees called a special meeting with a delegate from the NCA. They wanted to ask questions, express concerns, and receive accurate, unfiltered information directly from an official. On May 5, 1989, the NCA sent Dr. Jean Mather, who interacted graciously through an intense Q&A session lasting several hours. At the end of the meeting, board members were satisfied. Subsequently, the full Board of Trustees officially approved pursuing accreditation with the NCA.
Hard Work, a Curve Ball, and a Home Run
The Maranatha family rejoiced to see God’s direction. Although opposition continued against accreditation, the institution felt the hand of God more strongly than the pressure from outside.
Perceiving the need for God’s help, the administration and faculty prayerfully began the massive institutional self-study. Could this endeavor be accomplished, or would it too end in embarrassment?
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
The NCA accreditation process begins with completing a General Institutional Requirements (GIR) document of about 20 pages. Following its completion and approval, a candidacy self-study is conducted, culminating with a NCA team campus visit. If the study and visit are successful, NCA grants candidacy status, which allows immediate financial aid and credit transfer—the two benefits Maranatha needed most.
Much of the work from the aborted effort with AABC was easily adapted to NCA requirements. Once the GIR was completed, Maranatha began to conduct its candidacy self-study, an effort that led to many improvements.
Maranatha officially received candidacy status on February 15, 1991. In addition to granting student benefits, this achievement signified that the NCA believed Maranatha had the potential to achieve Initial (full) Accreditation within ten years. Candidacy self-studies were required every two years until accreditation was achieved. Maranatha’s administration trusted that within this ten-year window it would be ready.
Financial aid began flowing to students upon the attainment of candidacy status. Many students began receiving Pell Grants and Guaranteed Student Loans.
Then, without warning, all colleges who had attained candidacy status were notified by the US Department of Education that all financial aid would be discontinued for candidate colleges and universities and would not be given until Initial Accreditation was officially achieved. Not only would students lose financial aid, but they would also need to immediately begin repaying all loans! This change would be devastating to Maranatha students. What was God doing?
The second candidacy self-study rough draft had already been sent to Maranatha’s staff liaison, Dr. Steve Crow. I anxiously called Dr. Crow. “We just received a disturbing letter from the USDOE regarding termination of financial aid to Candidate-Status college students.”
“We got a copy, too,” Dr. Crow replied. “It is creating an uproar in the higher education community, but I just finished reading the draft of your candidacy self-study. You’ve made remarkable progress—why don’t you rewrite this as a self-study for Initial Accreditation?”
“What?” I said. “I thought we would have up to 10 years to get ready?”
“True” said Dr. Crow, “but I think you are ready now.”
The Rest is History
In near-panic mode to beat the deadline for the cut-off of financial aid, the faculty, staff, and administration worked all spring and summer of 1992. The candidacy self-study was revised to meet the requirements for Initial Accreditation, and the final draft was submitted to NCA in the early fall of 1992.
God gave favor to Maranatha in the eyes of the visiting team, and we officially received accreditation on February 6, 1993.
The accreditation process was a wonderful ride full of bumps of learning and turns of discovery. We could never have imagined that when Maranatha embarked upon its accreditation with AABC in the fall of 1987, we would ultimately be granted regional accreditation with NCA/HLC within six years!
God moves in mysterious ways
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Achieving regional accreditation increased Maranatha’s opportunity to thrive. Through the years, accreditation has provided the structure needed for institutional improvement. It has also been the means by which many doors have been opened to Maranatha for preparing students to serve the Savior “To the Praise of His Glory!”