Monday, October 2, 2023
  Announcements, Around Campus

By Amanda A. Taylor-Uchoa

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – UTRGV has been granted accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD) for its dance program – which means the UTRGV Dance Department has met the highest standards in providing dance students educational services.

The accreditation also means the UTRGV Dance Department officially meets national standards for schools of dance set by professionals and experts in the field. 

The decision was made by the organization's commission, which is comprised of elected peer representatives of member institutions.

Dr. Jeffrey Ward, dean of the UTRGV College of Fine Arts, said membership in NASD puts UTRGV’s dance program in an elite status with the finest dance programs across the country.

“The NASD visitors raved about the quality of our faculty, facilities, degree offerings, performance – and our amazing students,” Ward said.


The accreditation process took a total of two years, from 2021 to 2023, and included having representatives from the UTRGV Dance Department attend annual conferences, write a self-study, and prepare for hosting two NASD visitors for a campus visit.

The comprehensive review process ended with the announcement of accreditation membership at the 2023 NASD annual conference in Tucson, AZ.

Dana Shackelford, chair of the UTRGV Dance Department, said the accreditation process helps dance departments tighten up and enforce important policies and procedures, resulting in a better organization and more efficiency.

“Degree programs are scrutinized in making sure the percentage distribution of the credit hours of required courses meets standards for professional degrees versus dance education degrees,” Shackelford said.

Another important aspect of NASD accreditation is exemplary consideration of the health and safety of dance students. Proper dance floors, necessary health and safety policies, and available treatment plans or care of injury are especially important with dance activity.

As a result of the recent accreditation, Shackelford said, a new Dance Department Student Organization has been developed, granting current and future dance students more representation and voices on decisions within the department.


Dr. Dahlia Guerra, special assistant to the dean of the UTRGV College of Fine Arts, said there is potential to draw even more students to the dance program, which encompasses the UTRGV Ballet Company, the Dance Ensemble, Ballet Español, and the internationally recognized UTRGV Ballet Folklórico.

“Educational accreditation requires institutions to maintain high standards, which boosts accountability and helps build trust in the college or university,” Guerra said. “All of that can dramatically increase students’ interest in the courses of accredited universities.”

Shackleford said she believes UTRGV provides a unique higher education dance program in the programs offered. Within the study of folklórico, flamenco, modern dance and ballet, the draw to students to practice these forms may increase.

“UTRGV Dance Department graduates will have the honor of saying that they earned their dance degree from an NASD-accredited institution, and that informs potential employers and dance graduate programs that their degree comes from a prestigious and serious school of dance that meets national standards,” she said.

“NASD accreditation is a well-deserved pat on the back for the hard-working and dedicated faculty, staff, and talented students of the UTRGV Dance Department. I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this successful accreditation process,” Shackleford said.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.