North Central Self Study
Chapter 2: UNK and the North Central Association
1994 NCA Team Report
3. Other Evaluative Comments
The 1994 report offered several other advisory insights (pages 31-32). These were not requirements or conditions of accreditation, but where possible, they could aid UNK's improvement efforts by addressing them.
Consider the identification, development, and funding of a small number of centers of excellence.
The 1995-2005 strategic plan featured an objective to produce focused excellence in the colleges' academic programs. The commitment to do so is evident in each college's plan. In 1999-2001 the University-wide academic prioritization effort gave added focus to this work. UNK identified 14 programs for priority support; these have received special funding from Central Administration and campus resources.
Establish the degree audit program as a high computer priority.
A degree audit summarizing institutional requirements, General Studies, and major/minor programs requirements is available to juniors (58 earned hours) on-line via WebEASI. Students may consult with academic advisors or the Office of Student Records and Registration at any time to review degree progress. Degree audit is used for graduate students upon their admission to a degree program, essentially serving as the student's program of study. Graduate students have access to degree audit at any time.
Identify an outside consultant to assist the campus in the establishment of a comprehensive faculty development program.
Over the course of the past 10 years a number of consultants have been brought to campus to assist in the formation or expansion of several faculty development programs. Most notable are the development of the Center for Teaching Excellence and the further development of the Office of Sponsored Programs, both of which have been advised by external consultants. More recently a consultant provided guidance to UNK administration, department chairs and faculty on the organization and functioning of an Assessment Office.
Establish a process to totally reassess space utilization across the campus to find more effective ways of utilizing existing facilities.
A number of new construction and renovation projects (discussed further in Chapter 4) have vastly improved the quality and quantity of UNK classroom, laboratory, office, conference, and meeting areas from one end of the campus to the other. As the inventory of excellent space has expanded and poor space has been replaced or taken off-line, systemic deficiencies have been minimized. In addition, the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance directs a centralized scheduling system that schedules all non-academic space on campus. Classrooms are scheduled through the Registrar's Office.
Suggest that the campus prepare a five-year Library Collection Request to the Board of Regents.
Because of the key role played by the library on each campus, a University of Nebraska system-wide effort has been made to enhance the holdings and services of all University libraries. Several system-wide requests have been presented to the Board of Regents, and just this past year University President L. Dennis Smith successfully proposed budget enhancements for the UNK (and other campus) Library. This was accomplished in spite of significant budget reductions.
Recommend that the program review process and the findings from assessment efforts connect directly with the planning/budgeting process.
Efforts to address this concern are currently underway. As discussed in Chapter 5, an Assessment Office is being created to help in the coordination of these activities. The Director of Assessment will not only provide direction to that process, but will also be responsible for the five-year cycle of Academic Program Reviews. In addition, the Director of Assessment will be a member of the Strategic Planning Council.
Expand the planning process to include action-oriented plans, targets, time frames, costs, and measurable outcomes.
Generally, UNK's intent to connect strategic plans to actions, costs, and outcomes was early evidenced in the 1995-2005 Strategic Plan itself. Especially in the plans developed by major campus units, it outlined long-term and short-term objectives, key programs, and projected costs. Other plans show similar effort to link goals and resources; from information technology to student recruitment to construction and renovation of the campus infrastructure (these are available in the Resource Room).
Utilize outside consultants to assist in the development of a campus-wide effort to implement the institutional diversity statements.
Such an initiative has been undertaken, led primarily by consultant Dr. Joe White, as discussed above.
UNK has been accredited by NCA since 1916. The last decennial review in 1994 found UNK in compliance with all standards and granted full accreditation. General Institutional Requirements are addressed in Appendix A. The remainder of this study will address the NCA Criteria.