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UNK Welcomes NCA

North Central Self Study

Chapter 1: UNK and the University of Nebraska:
The First Years

The initial chapter of the University of Nebraska at Kearney's 1994 Self Study Report reviewed the campus's history of growth "in size and mission." As prelude to the 2004 Self Study Report, this chapter summarizes the part of the developmental story that in 1994 had only just begun: progress within the University of Nebraska.

Contours of the Post-KSC Leadership Challenge

In the 1970's and 1980's Kearney State College grew to become the largest of Nebraska's state colleges. By the late 1980's KSC had launched a concerted drive to achieve university status, an aspiration fueled by a sense that, within Nebraska, the campus was uniquely dynamic and that it already had evolved beyond the limited role envisioned for state colleges.

A 1986 long-range planning document, The Possible Dream, outlined how KSC might develop into an independent public university -- a teaching university distinguished from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln primarily in the area of research emphasis. The strategy included (1) sustained emphasis on teaching, in a small-class format and with a comprehensive curriculum centered on a general studies core, (2) more graduate programs, (3) improved financial support, (4) strengthened instructional outreach, and (5) concentrated investments to develop faculty, and produce departmental excellence; to modernize and internationalize the curriculum, pedagogy, and campus life, and to provide "whole person" development opportunities for students.

Planners were optimistic about realizing this vision, but they also recognized that in new university garb the campus must deal with serious issues that had emerged in KSC's last years, including qualitative strains created by larger enrollments and expanded off-campus teaching, and low student retention and graduation rates. The Possible Dream also foresaw that a maturing institution needed a better planning process, one that would make plans purposeful, consequential and effective.

Kearney State College formally became the University of Nebraska at Kearney on July 1, 1991. After joining the University of Nebraska, UNK planners at first ratified the KSC-originated strategy presented in the 1994 NCA Self-Study Report. However, other ideas more circumscribed and focused than this earlier vision have regulated the planning process.

As a result of these realities, the planning landscape now includes the following strategic challenges:

The following review summarizes developments in several major areas that were emphasized during this period: planning, academics, student learning and student services, campus infrastructure, and enrollment. It concludes with a brief survey of remaining leadership challenges.

* Long-range goals identified in the strategy appear in the 1994 Self-Study Report, at 32-38.
** RP 2.1.6. Regents' policies are on file in the Resource Room.

Next: Chapter 1> Sections> Planning and Focus for Excellence