I remember vividly early summer of 2006 after the WordAlone Annual Meeting had just voted to move forward implementing an independent, autonomous, and fully accredited house of studies committed to the Biblical hermeneutic of the Lutheran Reformation. When writing the report that I had brought to the convention, I remember clearly thinking, “this is going to be a tremendous amount of work if we can pull it off.” I must admit that it has been a tremendous amount of work, and we did do it!
We have just been notified by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) that we have been voted to receive initial ABHE accreditation! Since we are already independent and autonomous, accreditation completes the original three conditions I specified that the Institute must possess. God be praised!
ABHE accreditation means that we are officially recognized now by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as an accredited US educational institution. ABHE accreditation, like Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation, is comprehensive and institutional. It is not less difficult to achieve than HLC accreditation, though unlike HLC accreditation, it recognizes the religious nature and religious challenges of its member institutions. (Yes, the annual meeting opens with prayer!) We like working with ABHE because they have definitely helped us be the best we can be without placing upon us some of the “political correctness” conditions of both HLC and ATS (American Theological School) accreditation.
Our newly accredited status has some immediate benefits:
We soon will be designated by ‘edu’ rather than ‘org’ in our url and will be eligible for all of the educational vendor bundling of large universities.
Our programs, now fully accredited, will meet the conditions specified by the federal government -- including the US military -- whose employees receive direct funding of continuing education.
We will be able to operate legally in all 50 US states and Canadian provinces as an educational institution rather than a religious organization.
Students can say that their degree is from a “fully accredited institution.”
Everybody should realize, however, that students will likely not learn more at ILT than before. ILT accreditation will not likely affect the quality of student educational experience. ILT educational products have always been of high quality, and it is difficult to improve when one is already doing it correctly.
What accreditation does is announce to the world that we are a “going concern” institutionally. We are not just involved in the ad hoc training of a few good pastors, but are an institution with multi-generational staying power, a comprehensive institution that has a seminary, but is also involved in granting academic degrees to those wanting to study theology to the glory of God.
The board, staff, faculty and students of ILT thank all of you who have prayed for us and supported us financially during this long process of achieving accreditation. We look forward to God’s future, trusting that ILT will continue to be a blessing to students, to the Church, and to the culture in which we find ourselves.
President Dennis Bielfeldt, Ph.D.