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.
Support for Freedom of Inquiry for Faculty and Students
The "law of the university" - i.e., policy enacted by the Board of Regents -- explicitly recognizes the centrality of academic freedom:
The University serves the people of Nebraska and the common good through learning, teaching, extension work, research, scholarship, and public service. Fulfillment of these functions requires the preservation of intellectual freedoms of teaching, expression, research and debate. The right to search for truth, to support a position the searcher believes is the truth, and to disagree with others whose intellect reaches a different conclusion is the fiber of America's greatness. It is, likewise, the strength of a great University, and its preservation is vital.
Board of Regents Bylaws 4.2
This principle is reflected as well in UNK's mission statement, which grounds our learning environment explicitly in principles of academic freedom.
Concomitantly, the law of the university enjoins every member of the UNK community to respect differing opinions, to teach in a manner that encourages free inquiry and the free expression of ideas by students, and to create and protect an atmosphere of intellectual honesty. (Board of Regents Bylaws 4.1). A standing committee of the faculty senate is explicitly charged to consider complaints that academic freedom has been abridged. (Bylaws 4.14.2, and UNK Procedures for Termination, Non-Reappointment, and Violation of Academic Freedom Cases (available in the Faculty Handbook and on the Academic Affairs website)).
In addition to these formal protections, UNK has deliberately sought to encourage great teaching, unfettered scholarship, research, and creative activity, and freedom of inquiry by all members of the campus community.
- Annual faculty awards (at campus level and University-wide) recognize exemplary teaching, research, and service. The most prestigious UNK faculty award, the Leland Holdt Distinguished Faculty Award, instituted in 1998, celebrates the best of UNK's scholars at our May Commencement exercises.
- Student research with faculty is a central feature of the UNK educational experience, and this work, too, has gained appreciable momentum in recent years. Criteria used in the 1999-2001 academic prioritization process highlighted excellence in student research; as a result, designated priority programs feature strong emphasis and notable achievements in that aspect of student learning. Moreover, UNK is a recognized pacesetter in National Conference on Undergraduate Research and student research generally. From a modest beginning with a handful of students attending NCUR in 1996, UNK has sent fifty or more students the past three years.
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