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:
- Developing outstanding faculty members, through recruiting, faculty development, and development of workload policies, promotion and tenure criteria, and faculty governance participation. Rationale: The need for UNK and the College to work to develop a faculty consistent with its new status in the University was emphasized in the North Central Association Final Report of 1994 (hereafter, NC Report) (pp. 9, 15, 28, 32).
- Recruiting a more diverse faculty and supporting a bias-free learning environment. Rationale: NC Report (pp. 6-7, 16, 27, 31).
- Improving facilities and equipment for teaching and research. Rationale: NC Report (pp. 16, 24, 28).
- Strengthening the performance of departments and programs, especially through Academic Program Reviews. Rationale: NC Report (p. 12).
- Developing focused areas of excellence. Rationale: NC Report (p. 32).
- Supporting enhanced student learning, especially experiential learning such as student research. Rationale: NC Report (pp. 16-17, 22, 29)
- Enhancing service to the state and cooperation with other educational institutions, through such steps as collaboration with public schools, the Medical Center, and the Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR). Rationale: These are in line with general goals for UNK promulgated in the 1995 Strategic Plan, Chapter 4, Institutional Goals 4 (Educational Outreach) and 5 (Service to Nebraska).
- Developing new M.S. and M.A. degrees that complement undergraduate strengths and address demonstrated needs. Rationale: NC Report (pp. 18, 33); department Academic Program Reviews.
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.
Developing an outstanding faculty
- Faculty research and presentation are supported by College travel funds, as well as by campus research grants and external funding facilitated by the Office of Sponsored Programs. External research funding in the College in 2001 was $649,373. In 2001, CNSS faculty produced 32 refereed articles and essays, thirteen book chapters, 12 book reviews, and 95 presentations at scholarly meetings.
- Release time for scholarship is now broadly available, regulated by a College policy (adopted in 1995, revised in 2001) on the research productivity necessary to sustain such release.
- Departmental policies in the College on faculty evaluation, promotion, and tenure were revised in 1995 and 1996 in response to the NC report. College guidelines concerning scholarship in evaluation, promotion, and tenure were revised in 1995.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Workload, promotion and tenure policies have been adjusted in recognition of the teacher-scholar model, and CNSS faculty members have become quite productive in research, publication, and winning external funding.
- CNSS students have become much more active in carrying out and presenting faculty-guided research.
- The facilities and equipment available to faculty and students have greatly increased in quality and quantity. College computer labs and faculty computers are now sufficient, up-to-date, and systematically maintained.
- There has been some success in diversifying the faculty.
- The College's strong emphasis on excellent teaching has been recognized by numerous campus and University awards.
- Priority programs have been identified and have received supplementary funding.
- Recent substantial budget cuts have cost four faculty positions and 2.75 FTE staff positions, and led to the merger of two departments. Maintaining program quality in affected departments will be a challenge.
- With the loss of equipment and discretionary funds to budget cuts, replacing computer (and other) equipment on schedule will be another challenge.
- It is quite possible that budget cuts will continue.
- It appears that enrollments are on the upswing, especially in Health Sciences. Meeting the needs of departments that are essential (e.g., Mathematics), but not designated as priority programs, will be difficult.
- Nearly a quarter of College faculty (23) are 59 or older. Over the next decade it will be a major challenge to replace retirees with high-quality hires.
- As allowed by retirements and restored funding, new hires will be targeted to areas most crucial to the College's mission, and in greatest student demand.
- We will continue efforts to attract and retain female and minority faculty members.
- Within the limits of available resources, new ways of linking with other institutions and serving the state will be sought (e.g., possible further links with the University's Public Policy Center).
- We will continue to encourage and facilitate external funding for the resources it can command to secure equipment, support students and faculty, and underwrite student learning.
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.
Department of Biology
- Shifts and additions in the curriculum to address both internal conceptual perspectives about Biology and external professional demand (e.g. advances in molecular biology and GIS in field biology).
- Renewed emphasis on the undergraduate research project (BIOL 420) that has led to enhanced quality and external recognition.
Department of Chemistry
- Enhancement of Biochemistry Teaching Equipment and Research Capabilities through National Science Foundation curriculum grant.
- $1.2 million in external grants for equipment, curriculum, and research since 1996 to support teaching and undergraduate research initiatives.
- Addition of Business/Sales and Environmental/Agricultural degree emphases, accompanied by the elimination of other redundant chemistry degree programs.
Department of Computer Science and Information Systems:
- The student technology fee has been used to establish a 3-year replacement schedule for computer equipment in the CASE/UNIX Lab.
- During the past 2 years scholarly productivity has been increased with the addition of 2 tenure track faculty members with degrees in computer science.
- Majors were consolidated from 6 down to 1.
Department Of Criminal Justice And Social Work: Criminal Justice:
- Establishment of a long distance education degree in Criminal Justice.
- Increase in student research with faculty.
Social Work Program:
- Maintain compliance with Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) educational policies and standards.
- Provide the Social Work Program with suitable physical facilities in Founders Hall that address space needs and promote a positive image of the program.
Health Science Programs:
- Increase in recruiting efforts by the office.
- Improvement in the working relationships with Good Samaritan Hospital.
Department of History:
- The Department of History has made a number of minor changes to its BAE programs to maintain consistency with College of Education requirements.
- The UNK History Master's Degree was approved by the Coordinating Commission in March of 1996 and was inaugurated in the Fall of 1996.
- Increased faculty expertise in a variety of areas including military and women's history have opened prospects for students to expand their geographic area of specialization.
- The Department also approved a new Graduate History Certificate program.
Department of Mathematics and Statistics:
- The Department initiated a project for developing a new mathematics course especially designed for prospective elementary school teachers.
- The Statistics Option major, the Actuarial Science Comprehensive Option major, and the M.S.Ed. Graduate Program were dropped by the department in the fall of 2003 as a consequence of low student demand.
Department of Physics & Physical Science:
- The addition of a highly qualified lecturer so that full time personnel can offer the Physical Science 100 classes.
- Established writing intensive (WI) sections of PHYS 205/206/275/276 courses.
- Incorporated calculator-based laboratory (CBL) and computer technology into PHYS 205/206/275/276 courses.
Department of Political Science:
- Added PSCI 345, Politics of Developing Nations, PSCI 450/850, Nations in Transition, PSCI 486/886, Public Policy Analysis, PSCI 489, Senior Seminar, PSCI 369, International Political Economy, PSCI 456, Field Study in American Foreign Policy.
- Revised PSCI 268, Introduction to International Politics, to a 100 level class PSCI 168 part of the General Studies offerings; PSCI 271, Politics in the Industrial Democracies.
Department of Psychology:
- One faculty position has been added in order to cover the demands for developmental and social psychology as well as expand into the field of Forensic Psychology.
- One faculty position was upgraded from a master's level lecturer to a tenure track assistant professor. Curriculum changes have led to more formal research preparation in introductory level research courses.
- Increased support for student research in the form of grants, research stipends, and travel support to conferences.
Department of Sociology, Geography and Earth Science: Geography Program:
- Developed departmental capability in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) by means of the addition of three new courses: Geog. 315 - Intro. To GIS, Geog. 316 - Advanced GIS, Geog. 443 - Special topics in Applied GIS. Established a Spatial Analysis Minor.
- Significant reorganization of all bachelor degree curricula in order to reflect GIS opportunities, current faculty resources and alterations in introductory physical geography course structures.
- Restructured degree programs necessitated by faculty resignations and the administrative decision to reduce department full-time faculty from 6 to 5.
- Have responded to student curricular needs by setting up a three-year rotation of courses.
- Developed a community emphasis in addition to the general sociology emphasis in the Bachelor of Science Degree.
- The Social Science Computer Laboratory has been upgraded with software appropriate to social science research classes.
- Special Topics courses have been added in areas of faculty interest.
- Students present research papers at various state and regional conferences.
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: