Board of Funeral Service Education reaccredits Mortuary Science program

Hunter Wallace
Staff Writer

hvcc_night 2-27-17-3118Photo By Mike Schafer| The Hudsonian

The colleges mortuary science program received re-accreditation from the American Board of Funeral Service Education in Oct. 2016.

The decision to re-accredit these programs was made by the Committee on Accreditation (COA), who visited the campus in June 2016.

“The visiting committee prepares an On-Site Evaluation Report, which is submitted to the Committee on Accreditation and reviewed by the program. The site team members spent three days on campus,” said mortuary science Department Chair Lori Purcell, in an email interview.

Currently, there are 59 degree programs accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education. In order for mortuary science programs to receive re-accreditation, the COA must submit a report of their findings during an on-site visit, as well as make a decision.

The COA offers re-accreditation in three, five or seven year intervals; HVCC received seven years of re-accreditation with no stipulations.

In order to retain re-accreditation, mortuary science programs must maintain a yearly average of 60 percent or greater.

“The curriculum is required to keep a yearly average of the National Board Exam Pass Rate and should the department fall below this rate, there are consequences, such as the program receiving a warning, notice or suspension,” said Purcell.

We finished fall and spring 2016 with 88 and 93 percent respectively. In 2017, we are currently looking at a 100 percent success rate,” said Purcell.

It is believed that the Maureen Stapleton Theater previously housed a morgue for students in the mortuary science program. However, others think this to be a rumor. Purcell provided clarification on the matter.

“The mortuary science program started in the campus center under the theater. The morgue, prep-room, classroom and faculty offices were all under the theater. All mortuary science classes and embalmings were held in this area,” said Purcell.

Purcell continued to talk about how being part of the mortuary science program years ago gave students a particular reputation.

“We were known as ‘the students behind the creepy red doors.’ The entrance was the carport under the campus center and the doors were painted red. Being a grad of the program when it was in the theater, I can say we are all familiar with the many ‘secret’ passageways to the theater,” said Purcell.

Students in the mortuary science program graduate with an A.A.S. degree, but are required to pass the National Board Exam, an assessment of content knowledge required for students to practice as licensed funeral directors or embalmers. A one-year internship at a licensed funeral
home follows, with students given the option to take the law exam. Upon passing this test, students become licensed funeral directors and potentially go on to become managers or owners of funeral homes.

According to Purcell, “Mortuary science is a profession that requires dedication, skills and the understanding that it is a 24 hour, seven-days-a-week career. It is rewarding but requires a special person when dealing with losing a loved one.”

Lori Purcell may be contacted by phone at (518) 629-7369 or by email at

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