North Central Self Study
Chapter 2: UNK and the North Central Association
1994 NCA Team Report
Evaluation and Current Situation
The 1994 Report offered several evaluative comments which the institution might address as it transitioned into the University of Nebraska and identified a number of institutional strengths and concerns. A synopsis of the current situation on each point is provided below.
1. Institutional Strengths
The strong institutional commitment to decentralized decision-making processes is a major strength (p. 9).
All campus constituencies remain committed to a collaborative decision-making process. Where responsibility for decision resides with top administrators, they continue to employ numerous consultative mechanisms to obtain the best available information and advice. Examples of such mechanisms include regular meetings between the Chancellor (and, separately, the Vice Chancellors) with the Faculty Senate executive committee; the Staff Senate Executive Committee; the Chancellor's Advisory Committee, composed of community leaders; and the Information Technology Advisory Committee, which is also broadly representative of students, faculty, and staff constituencies. Substantial authority resides with colleges and their faculties, with the Faculty Senate on matters that concern more than one college and with the graduate faculty and Graduate Council on matters related to graduate education. The University of Nebraska Board of Regents and the University of Nebraska at Kearney Education Association address collective bargaining issues.
The Museum of Nebraska Art is an outstanding resource for the region. The Art Department is an exemplary department in the College [. . .of Fine Arts & Humanities]. Its prominence and prestige, its active faculty, and its strong students and successful alumni support this designation. (p. 15)
The Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) remains a community landmark whose programs enrich cultural life throughout the region. The Chancellor and the Dean of Fine Arts & Humanities have continued to play prominent leadership roles as, internally, the unit has undergone several management transitions. MONA staff has been increasingly professionalized and now includes directors of education and development. At the time of the last NCA report, the UNK budget for MONA was $116,051. The current (2003-04) allocation is $154,795. This allocation has been reduced by $24,678, going forward, as a result of overall budget reductions enacted for the campus.
The Art Department also remains a key UNK strength. UNK's 1995-2005 Strategic Plan targeted the department's graphic design program to be developed as a center of excellence. Later, in the University-wide academic prioritization process, its visual communication and design programs were included in a designated UNK academic priority, Applied Information Technology.
The Chemistry Department is a major asset. (p. 16)
The department remains one of UNK's strongest with both veteran and younger faculty highly committed to excellence in teaching and in research with students. It participates (with the biology department) in a designated UNK academic priority program area, Health Sciences. Since 1994 its capital equipment budget has more than tripled, and the department has also been a primary beneficiary of annual grants from the University of Nebraska Foundation (see Chapter 1) and other internal and external sources. Bruner Hall of Science, which houses the department, has benefited from deferred maintenance renovation over the last three years. Its summer Chemistry Camp for outstanding high school students has been a model outreach initiative. The Chemistry Department received the very first University of Nebraska University-wide Department Teaching Award (UDTA) in 1993. Since that time, the recognition has also been awarded to the UNK Department of Psychology (1999) and the UNK Department of Political Science (2003).
Community relations are effectively handled and are a significant part of the campus. (p. 26)
Chancellor Kristensen, a former Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, is a recognized statewide leader and remains a prominent participant in the region's civic life and community leadership. He represents UNK on a variety of community, state, and regional boards and organizations. Formal campus-community linkages at his level include the Chancellor's Advisory Council and citizen representation on a variety of committees. He also systematically visits communities, schools, media outlets, and civic/service groups throughout the region. Primary staff responsibility for external links and communication is vested in the Vice Chancellor for University Relations, who oversees an active news bureau and campus-wide marketing and communications activity.
There is a strong "ethic of caring" among all segments of the campus. Institutional pride and confidence are high and individuals are dedicated to the campus. (p. 30)
This remains a key resource and advantage for the institution. Particularly, as UNK has dealt with recent fiscal stresses, employees have nevertheless remained focused on their mission: educating and serving students. UNK has always attracted - and continues to attract - faculty devoted to excellence in teaching and learning. They enjoy their work and want to do it well. Similarly, UNK administrators and staff take pride in serving an institution that puts first priority on providing students an excellent education. Personalized interaction with, and service to, students remains a core value and the dominant dynamic on campus, whether in academic departments or administrative and student service offices. Pride in achievement has been buttressed by the progress made on many fronts in the 1990's (summarized in Chapter 1).