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UNK Welcomes NCA

North Central Self Study
Appendix B: College and Department Outcomes as a Result of Strategic Planning

College of Natural and Social Sciences

Strategic Plan: 1995-2005

The College has 13 Long-Range Objectives (1995-2005) and six Near-Term Initiatives (3-5 years), for each of which three to six specific objectives are listed. These various goals can be grouped into a limited number of key major themes:


An examination of the different themes emphasizes that planning and development efforts have utilized the 1994 NCA report to assist with identifying strategic goals that focus upon enabling the College to better meet its stated mission to enhance student development with a qualified and diverse faculty. Improvement of specific programs has relied quite extensively on the information provided by Academic Program Reviews.

Outcomes as a Result of Strategic Planning Efforts:

Except as noted differently, the bases for the changes below are the same as the rationales cited above for the key goals.

  1. Developing an outstanding faculty
  2. Diversifying the faculty and curriculum
    • Faculty diversity has increased through active recruiting. Since 2000, the College's 17 tenure-track hires have included six female and three minority faculty members.
    • A committee is developing a proposal for an Ethnic Studies minor.
  3. Improved facilities and equipment
    • There are now computer laboratories with up-to-date equipment and specialized disciplinary software in Copeland Hall, Bruner Hall, Otto Olsen Hall (the Unix/Case lab called for in the Strategic Plan), and Founders Hall.
    • The computer laboratories, as well as faculty and department office computers, are supported by a College Information Technology Coordinator.
    • The final two years of the Criminal Justice B.S. degree are now available via distance education.
    • The Biology M.S. degree became available to students via distance education in summer, 2003.
    • Ten multimedia classrooms are now available in Copeland, Otto Olsen, and Bruner Halls, paid for by the Technology Fee.
    • The Copeland Hall renovation was completed in 1996. The building houses the Departments of Sociology, Geography and Earth Science; History; and Psychology, and the Dean's Office.
    • A three-year, $6.5-million deferred repair and maintenance project in Bruner Hall of Science (Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Health Sciences) was essentially completed in December, 2003.
  4. Strengthening the performance of departments and programs
    • Teaching and research excellence are recognized by campus-wide and university-wide awards. Since 1995, two CNSS departments (Psychology and Political Science) have won the university-wide teaching excellence award. Individual CNSS faculty members have won two university-wide awards for teaching. They have also won, since 1995, 30 campus-wide awards for teaching, research, and service.
    • The Social Work Program received full national accreditation for the first time in 1997.
    • In 2003, the Social Work Program and Criminal Justice Department were merged into a Department of Criminal Justice and Social Work. These two professionally-oriented programs are complementary; both prepare a large number of majors for bachelor's level career entry and emphasize internships.
  5. Developing focused areas of excellence
    • The goal of recognizing "areas of excellence" was met through the prioritization process, in which seven CNSS programs were designated as priority programs. Special "excellence funding" ($235,000 in FY 03) is available to CNSS priority programs.
  6. Supporting enhanced student learning
    • Faculty-guided student research is now widespread in the College. In 2001, CNSS students made 130 research presentations at campus, regional, and national scholarly meetings, and produced 11 publications of their work.
    • There is now a Health Sciences Department with a full-time director responsible for recruiting and advising students in Health Science programs.
  7. Enhancing service to the state and cooperation with other educational institutions
    • The Dean meets regularly with a 13-member Advisory Council composed of successful individuals (e.g., doctors, teachers, a computer-services executive) in careers served by CNSS programs.
    • The College has partnerships with literally dozens of outside entities, including other NU units, federal, state, and local governmental agencies, and private firms, for enhancement of teaching, research and service activities.
  8. Developing new M.S. and M.A. degrees
    • The College now offers the M.A. degree in History (instituted in 1996), and the M.S. in Biology (1995). Both were recommended by Academic Program Reviews in 1993 and 1994, respectively.
    • The M.S. Ed. program in Mathematics was suspended in 1999 due to low enrollments. The 2002 Academic Program Review recommended that it be either revived or terminated. In 2003, after the loss of a vacant faculty position because of budget cuts, the program was terminated.

Successes and Concerns Since 1994


The successes over the last decade can generally be recognized by empirical measures presented above.

Future Plans:

An analysis of the outcomes accomplished to meet the goals of the College indicates that the goals have been essentially met and continue to be developed. An analysis of the strengths and concerns indicates that the College continuously evaluates its progress toward meeting those goals and notes adjustments needed for future planning to maintain program vitality. The strategic planning process appears to rely on the evaluative information provided from the earlier (1994) NCA recommendations in combination with input from APR's from individual departments.

At a more specific level, each of the departments engages in strategic planning and development to continually maintain the student's learning experience. Examples of outcomes as a result of strategic planning in each department since 1994 are listed below. A more inclusive description of their planning and accomplishments is included in departmental reports filed in July-September of 2003 which are presented in the archives.

Departmental Outcomes
Department of Biology
Department of Chemistry
Department of Computer Science and Information Systems:
Department Of Criminal Justice And Social Work: Criminal Justice:
Social Work Program:
Health Science Programs:
Department of History:
Department of Mathematics and Statistics:
Department of Physics & Physical Science:
Department of Political Science:
Department of Psychology:
Department of Sociology, Geography and Earth Science: Geography Program:
Sociology Program:

The College of Natural and Social Sciences has utilized information from a variety of sources for fulfilling the mission(s) of the College and its respective departments. The long range goals of the College addressed concerns discussed in the 1994 North Central accreditation self study recommendations that were relevant to enhancing its ability to fulfill the College's and UNK's mission statements. There is a coherent organization of stated academic goals of the departments with the College's and UNK's overall stated intents regarding student development as described in their respective mission statements. The program changes since 1994 illustrate a coordinated effort at both the College and department level to enhance learning opportunities for students. The evaluative information to set goals and make changes has relied quite extensively on program self studies such as the NCA, APRs, and accreditation agencies. This reflects the orientation for data collection and analysis at the program level that was established prior to the last NCA report. A shift is occurring within departments to utilize student assessment data. It appears to be inconsistent at present, but should become more prevalent as the institution better utilizes that type of data in the future.


In most of the programs, there has been a coordinated effort to utilize a variety of sources of evaluative information to enhance program development. In all cases, the academic program changes served to enhance the Mission of the respective department in its goal of better facilitating student learning. At this point in time, it appears that the basis or rationale for change at the Department level is reliant on the APR and accreditation self study process. This strategy is congruent with the assessment, evaluation, and planning strategy that has been used since the previous NCA (1994) report. Use of student assessment data to facilitate the change process should increase as departments more fully develop and use that resource base.

Other sections in this appendix: