North Central Self Study
Chapter 2: UNK and the North Central Association
1994 NCA Team Report
2. Institutional Concerns
While some funds have been allocated, there is a lacking in the overall level of institutional support for research and scholarly activity. (p. 18)
Major initiatives in this area include enhanced assistance for faculty grant writing, a generalized movement from 12-hour teaching loads to 9-hour loads for faculty desiring to engage systematically in research activity, and focused investment in research particularly involving undergraduate students. It is also pertinent that Regental Policy enacted in 1995 (RP 2.1.6) defined research/scholarship expectations for each University of Nebraska campus. Using Ernest Boyer's categories, the policy indicates that while faculty at all campuses may engage in all types of research, "scholarship at UNK should emphasize teaching and integration of knowledge." The UNK mission statement contained in the Comprehensive Statewide Plan, published by the Nebraska CCPE, notes that most UNK research is directly related to instruction or professional development of the faculty.
Since 1994, UNK has placed greater emphasis on encouraging and assisting faculty in their pursuit of external support for research. As a result, this measure of scholarly activity at UNK has increased markedly. In academic year 1994-95 a full-time director was hired for the Office of Sponsored Programs, which had earlier been staffed by a Graduate Assistant. Over the intervening years that office has become a fixture within Academic Affairs, identifying grant opportunities, conducting workshops, and assisting faculty with grant submissions. The results are evident in the following data:
|External Grant Activity, 1993-2004|
Equally important, in December, 1994, the Chancellor launched an initiative to move away from the 12-hour teaching assignment model toward a 9-hour model for faculty who wished to pursue research/scholarship beyond the activity required for scholarly teaching. The aim was to preserve UNK's historical emphasis on teaching while also recognizing university-level scholarship and research expectations. Today, the "normal" teaching load for faculty remains 11-13 hours, but faculty may obtain 3 hours of reassigned time for research on a continuing basis if they meet minimum scholarly productivity requirements outlined in college policies.* Productivity is evaluated yearly, through the annual review process. In the College of Education (COE), state (NDE) and NCATE standards heavily influence workloads. Faculty assigned only graduate level instruction, such as those in Counseling and School Psychology and Educational Administration have 18-hour teaching loads for the academic year. COE faculty assigned both undergraduate and graduate classes have 21-hour load expectations, and those teaching only undergraduate classes may be assigned 24-hour loads. In the Fall of 2002, 38.6% of UNK's full-time faculty received reassigned time for scholarship.
Finally, UNK has made a major effort to promote undergraduate student involvement in collaborative research with faculty. This is now a hallmark of education at UNK. Among the initiatives in this regard are the exceptional student participation in the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, the establishment of both a Student Research Day and an Undergraduate Research Journal, and institutional and faculty membership in the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR). After participating in CUR's Institute on Institutionalizing Undergraduate Research in 2001, UNK developed its own plan. First among the ideas proposed was the establishment of an Undergraduate Research Council (URC), which was formed in 2002 and now administers research funding for students. Also in 2002, UNK received a $50,000 NCUR/Lancy grant to start a summer student-faculty research program. Called the Platte Studies Seminar and funded externally for two years, this program has been highly successful and will not only continue but will be expanded with institutional funding. For the summer of 2004, $180,000 will be available for student-faculty research support through this program.
* These policies are available in the Resource Room.