North Central Self Study
Chapter 3: Criterion One
The institution has clear and publicly stated purposes consistent with its
mission and appropriate to an institution of higher education.
Overview: Institutional and Educational Goals
The University of Nebraska at Kearney's purposes are declared in statute, in statewide and University-wide policy, and in the institution's mission statement. The University of Nebraska's statutory charter, the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education's Statewide Plan, and University of Nebraska documents describing UNK's purposes are available in the Resource Room. Essentially, they establish UNK's role and mission as the University of Nebraska's primarily undergraduate, residential institution with selected graduate programs.
The University of Nebraska at Kearney is Nebraska's public, residential university that is distinguished by its commitment to be the state's premier institution for undergraduate education. It aims to graduate persons who know the accomplishments of civilizations and disciplined thought and are prepared for productive careers, further education, and responsible citizenship. It seeks primarily to serve the needs of Nebraska through the operation of baccalaureate general academic and professional degree programs, and programs of graduate instruction, research, and public service, as authorized by the board of Regents of the University of Nebraska. The undergraduate and graduate programs are complementary and synergistic, and both are essential in the identity and mission of the university.
The university pursues the preservation, enrichment, and transmission of knowledge and culture across a broad scope of academic disciplines. It places the highest priority on programs of instruction and learning that educate students to be lifelong, independent learners.The university seeks a diverse student body representing a wide range of ethnic origins, interests, financial resources, and aptitudes, provided that each student is prepared to benefit from the course of study in prospect. Accessibility to the programs of the university is advanced through extending off-campus educational opportunities through selected degree programs, continuing education courses, cultural outreach, and economic development activities.
The university emphasizes excellent teaching, scholarship, and service designed to produce student learning. It strives for an active, student-centered learning environment grounded in the principles of academic freedom and responsibility. The university requires its baccalaureates to complete an area of specialization and an extensive general studies curriculum that emphasizes the liberal arts. An accomplished and diverse faculty, drawn from learning centers of scholarship nationwide, teaches the general studies curriculum as well as the curricula in the academic disciplines. The university supports scholarly and creative activities that involve undergraduate and graduate students, enhance instructional programs and student learning outcomes, and aid faculty professional development.
The university seeks to foster in each student personal and intellectual qualities essential to responsible life in society such as integrity, respect for others, initiative, diligence, quantitative skills, and capacities for clear thinking, speaking, and writing. These qualities are cultivated best through personal experience in the company of others, and the university thus affirms its tradition of residential education. Opportunities to engage with others in residential life and activities in arts, athletics, service, study, and social groups are integral to the educational mission of the university.
UNK's mission statement further defines the institution's values and vision. It affirms historical strengths as guideposts for future plans, notably:
- a commitment to excellence, and to distinction in undergraduate education;
- a comprehensive curriculum combining baccalaureate academic and professional degree programs, a general education segment spanning the liberal arts, and complementary graduate programs;
- an emphasis on great teaching and on scholarship, research, and creative activity that involves students, enhances instruction, and aids faculty development;
- a holistic view of student development embracing academic, co-curricular, and residential life experiences, and
- an overarching goal to produce graduates broadly equipped for responsible life in society.
Strategic Planning at UNK
UNK's 1995-2005 strategic plan translated those principles into guidance for future programming and budget decisions. It recognizes notable institutional advantages: a devoted faculty, exemplary students, an accessible and affordable campus, a long tradition of good stewardship, and an enviable location in a thriving mid-state population center. It also ratified abiding strategic commitments to scholarly teaching, to a rich array of campus-centered developmental opportunities for students, to student and public service, and to excellence in undergraduate education that is fortified by selected high-quality graduate programs. The plan set forth a comprehensive analysis of UNK's mission and situation and identified five broad goals:
- To solidify our position as the premier residential university for undergraduate learning and the provider of quality graduate programs in Nebraska.
- To expand our fiscal resource base and achieve further economies in academic and administrative operations.
- To attract, retain, and reward the accomplishments of talented people who preserve and enhance the university's learning environment.
- To make reasonable efforts in coordination with other institutions to extend the opportunity for university education to citizens in central and western Nebraska.
- To apply UNK capabilities in service of the well-being of Nebraskans.
Those goals have guided UNK's development via decisions on strategy, operations, and budgets since 1995. Divisions, colleges, and departments have been responsible for implementing and supporting this overall design in their plans and day-by-day management. The fundamental values, principles, and goals outlined in this document have in that sense unified campus development activities, providing conceptual coherence across a wide range of operations over time. Furthermore, they have been key guidelines through the budget cutting process required by state appropriations reductions since FY 2000-01. In both good and bad budget times, however, our central aim has been to protect, first and foremost, our capability to deliver excellent undergraduate, residential education. We have made that purpose clear at every opportunity.
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