North Central Self
Chapter 3: Criterion One
The institution has clear and publicly stated purposes consistent with its
mission and appropriate to an institution of higher education.
This chapter has reviewed UNK's purposes, the collaborative and inclusive processes by which they have been developed, articulated, and disseminated, and the ways in which they are evaluated and translated into programs on a continuing basis. It has also noted the primacy given at all times to educational missions and particularly to excellence in undergraduate, residential education.
Among the most notable achievements of the last decade has been an increasing focus, through classically strategic planning, on the mission assigned UNK. Initiatives have been launched, programs have been institutionalized, achievements have been realized, and momentum has been sustained even in difficult fiscal circumstances. Nevertheless, important issues require sustained planning attention:
- It is unlikely we can reach Regental goals for qualitative development (top-30 status among like institutions nationwide) without sustained public understanding of -- and support for -- our commitment to excellence. To stabilize public funding and increase private giving to UNK, campus, University, and state government leaders must solidify the fundamental bargain in Nebraska between the University and its citizens. Accordingly, two-way communication about UNK's strengths, contributions to the state, and needs will be increasingly important from a strategic standpoint in the years immediately ahead.
- Policy declared at all levels of state and University administration has defined the role of graduate education at UNK. General parameters are clear: UNK will offer graduate programs that are developed from existing resources and that serve demonstrable need. But especially during resource-constrained recent years, some faculty members have worried that UNK's commitment to graduate education might diminish in the future. In order to continue to attract and retain excellent faculty and students for graduate programs without detracting from our undergraduate educational capabilities, UNK planners must take special care both to nurture graduate faculty and programs and to articulate their importance and contributions.
- Similarly, established policy highlights the importance of residential programs at UNK. This has both academic and non-academic ramifications. From the non-academic student development standpoint, it emphasizes the importance of an energetic campus life and multiple student leadership and engagement opportunities. From the academic standpoint, it suggests a degree of primacy for programs delivered on-campus in the residential context. Especially as off-campus programs in distant communities have endured budget reductions recently, some citizens have become concerned that the University is receding from a commitment to make University education accessible throughout the state. To some extent this is a matter of perception: UNK and the University remain committed to outreach, but that work must now take different forms using modern distance education technology. It is also a matter of communication, calling for constant attention to a broad and inclusive dialogue about UNK purposes, priorities, and resource limitations. However, without diminishing educational and development capabilities on campus, UNK planners must also strike a programmatic balance that attends to important regional needs. This will be a significant challenge calling for innovative application of technologies and close coordination with other campuses.
Next: Chapter 4: Criterion Two
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