Las Vegas, N.M. — The New Mexico Highlands University School of Education’s Rehabilitation Counseling Program received official notice of accreditation from the Council on Rehabilitation Education. The accreditation is for eight years, the maximum level possible.
The Rehabilitation Counseling Program at Highlands is the only master’s degree program of its kind in New Mexico.
The Council for Higher Education recognizes the Council on Rehabilitation Education, or CORE, as the accrediting entity for master’s degree programs in rehabilitation counseling.
In summary, the CORE examiners wrote in their report, “The Rehabilitation Counseling Program at Highlands functions effectively with quality faculty, adequate resources, and a comprehensive curriculum.”
“I am pleased but not surprised that our Rehabilitation Counseling Program has received the maximum accreditation, just as the entire School of Education received the maximum accreditation earlier this year from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education,” said Highlands University President Jim Fries. “Our education faculty has worked hard to ensure our students are well prepared professionally.”
Doug Main is the Rehabilitation Counseling Program coordinator at Highlands and directed the university’s CORE accreditation process.
“This CORE accreditation provides evidence that the Rehabilitation Counseling Program meets rigorous quality standards,” Main said. “Our graduates are prepared to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities in New Mexico.
“Accreditation will give our graduates a strong competitive edge when they apply for rehabilitation counseling positions in New Mexico and throughout the country. With accreditation, a big benefit for our students is that they can take the national certification exam while they are still in school with us,” Main said.
Main, who joined the Highlands University faculty in 2009, earned his Ph.D. in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Previously, he taught at Eastern New Mexico State University in Portales and Emporia State University in Emporia, Kan.
The Rehabilitation Counseling Program already has a strong track record of its graduates landing jobs in rehabilitation counseling.
“Despite economic downturns, the employment rate of our graduates is nearly 90 percent,” Main said.
Back in February, the Council on Rehabilitation Education examiners visited the Highlands University main campus in Las Vegas to evaluate the Rehabilitation Counseling Program. The examiners also evaluated the in-depth self study of the program that Main wrote.
Some highlights from the CORE examiners’ report include:
The program’s faculty is highly qualified, possessing doctoral degrees as well as experience in rehabilitation work, teaching and scholarly research publication.
The program’s faculty and staff are committed to their students. Students in the program report excellent rapport with faculty.
The program has close ties to public, federal and nonprofit vocational rehabilitation agencies in New Mexico.
The program’s innovative and effective use of online distance learning tools, such as interactive television, allow the program to reach out to students throughout New Mexico.
Main said that Highlands offers in-class instruction with rehabilitation counseling professors onsite at both its Las Vegas campus, where he is based, and its Rio Rancho Center.
“Rehabilitation counseling professor Dr. Kathrynn Dziekan at the Rio Rancho Center has done an outstanding job in the classroom and in recruiting new students to our program,” Main said.
For the accreditation self study, Main said that rehabilitation counseling staff member Kathy Montano was instrumental in organizing the logistics for the process.