UNK Welcomes NCA

North Central Self Study
Chapter 2: UNK and the North Central Association

Chapter Objectives: (a) review UNK's accreditation history, (b) identify NCA's 1994 comments and relevant UNK actions since then, and (c) state how UNK meets the General Institutional Requirements.

  1. Accreditation History
    1. Institution founded as a 2-year state supported normal school in 1903; first students arrived in 1905.
    2. Nebraska State Normal School at Kearney accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1916.
    3. Four year programs accredited after institution became Nebraska State Teachers College at Kearney.
    4. Master's level programs accredited in 1962 (preliminary) and 1971 (full). Campus became Kearney State College in 1962.
    5. Specialist Degree accredited in 1976.
    6. 1984: decennial review resulted in continued accreditation for all programs.
    7. 1991: campus affiliation statement, as University of Nebraska at Kearney, approved.
    8. 1994: decennial review resulted in continued accreditation for all programs, with the next comprehensive review scheduled for 2003-2004.
  2. 1994 NCA Report: Observations and Current Situation

      "The quality of the student body has dramatically improved . . . ." (Page 4).

      "The transition [into the University system] has occurred in orderly fashion . . .. shifts in policy and practice have been addressed head-on and appear to be in place with only a small portion of people still settling in and accepting these changes . . . . With a strong level of internal and external institutional support, the Chancellor has an opportunity to move the campus forward in an aggressive manner." (Page 8).

      "The voice of the [faculty] Senate was heard and respected . . . . The relationship between the University and the Union can best be described as exemplary." (Page 8).

      "There is a strong effort to decentralize decision-making and to increase the levels of participation." (Page 9).

      "The Museum of Nebraska Art is an outstanding resource for the region. The Art Department is an exemplary Department . . . ." (Page 15).

      "The Chemistry Department is a major asset." (Page 16).

      "Community relations are effectively handled and are a significant part of the campus." (Page 26).

      "There is a strong "ethic of caring" among all segments of the campus. Institutional pride and confidence are high and individuals are dedicated to the campus." (Page 30).


      "[F]unding] . . . remains weak for the size and scope of institutional activity." (Page 4, 13).

      "The level of teaching loads continue as a concern, particularly with the increased scholarly expectations resulting from the new mission statement. The use of overloads remain as a compounding problem." (Page 4). "[S]upport mechanisms for research, grant, and scholarly activity are underdeveloped." (Page 5). "Purposes and goals in relation to a distinctive research function are not clearly understood by the community at large or the campus." (Page 6). "Various support mechanisms for increased scholarship are not in place. Also, there is a campus-wide lack of faculty development plans." (Page 15). "While some funds have been allocated, there is a lacking in the overall level of institutional support for research and scholarly activity." (Page 18). "There are critical weaknesses in terms of faculty travel, released-time, and sabbaticals. The teacher scholar model discussion needs to be formalized so the campus can clearly articulate the relationships between teaching and scholarship." (Page 28).

      "The institution has not yet developed an overall plan for graduate program development." (Page 4-5).

      "Several pieces of the . . . [general education program] . . . remain incomplete." (Page 5). "[I]t is critical that the institution resolve the remaining questions and fully implement the revised program. . . . The portion on multicultural courses has not been established." (Page 16-17).

      "[T]here is a critical need . . . to address the low level of financial support and weaknesses in selected programmatic [library] collection development activity." (Page 5, 12). "The library is funded marginal at best . . . . A substantial collection development effort is needed." (Page 28).

      The level of support for the library, academic operations, instructional equipment, and support staff is extraordinarily weak." (Page 29).

      "The campus has not established a comprehensive or strategic institutional planning process. Steps need to be taken to the campus can more effectively operationalize plans, communicate actions, and establish priorities." (Page 30). "It is particularly important that the institution "take advantage" of the self-definition process to clearly articulate [its] unique role and mission . . .." (Page 6).

      "A clear definition of diversity is lacking . . .. There is a need to recruit a diverse student body capable of enrolling in all programs, particularly the honors program . . . . A more proactive recruitment strategy needs to be implemented [to increase minority faculty]." (Page 6-7, 14). "[T]here is a clear lacking of an Affirmative Action Plan . . . aggressive practices for promoting Affirmative Action are needed." (Page 27). There is little evidence of aggressive efforts [to achieve diversity goals]." (Page 31).

      "There is a clear lacking in the number of services personnel across campus." (Page 27).

      "[I]nstability and direction at the state level deserve institutional attention." (Page 9).

      "[S]ome [College of Business & Technology] faculty questioned exactly how the new criteria for research would affect them in the future. . . . faculty noted that reorganization of business majors to three departments from one) had decreased communications and cooperation and had increased turf protection and narrowness of perspective." (Page 10).

      "University and [College of Business & Technology] goals [re: AACSB accreditation and enrollment] may be at odds or, at least, now well understood by the faculty." (Page 11).

      "[T]here is little evidence that the program review process has produced significant change. A more action-oriented review process needs to be implemented that results in significant curricular change, program development, or program discontinuance." (Page 12, applied to all academic units. Also Page 18.).

      "The use of overloads [for continuing education/external programs] seems counterproductive to the institution's long-term objectives. The campus needs to reassess this practice and pursue alternative practices." (Page 19).

      "Considering the strength of [the Honors Program], funding is slim." (Page 20).

      "There are some campus concerns about enrollment." (Page 21.)

      "It was not clear whether sufficient attention is being paid to retention . . . . The institution needs to build a strong retention database and establish ongoing programs that facilitate campus-wide ownership in retention activities." (Page 21, 23).

      "There is an insufficient level of flexible [financial] aid produced by campus resources . . . . Private giving is important to the University's future." (Page 22).

      Advice for Improvement

      The review team suggested several steps to improve UNK's posture. These advisories were not requirements or conditions of accreditation.

      "Consider the identification, development, and funding of a small number of centers of excellence."

      "Establish the degree audit program as a high computer priority."

      "Identify an outside consultant to assist the campus in the establishment of a comprehensive faculty development program."

      "Establish a process to totally reassess space utilization across campus to find more effective ways of utilizing existing facilities . . ."

      "Suggest that the campus prepare a five-year Library Collection Request to the Board of Regents."

      "Recommend that the program review process and the findings from assessment efforts connect directly with the planning/budgeting process."

      "Expand the planning process to include action-oriented plans, targets, time frames, costs, and measurable outcomes."

      "Utilize outside consultants to assist in the development of a campus-wide effort to implement the institutional diversity statements."

  3. The General Institutional Requirements
    1. UNK has a mission statement, formally adopted by the governing board and made public, declaring that it is an institution of higher education.
    2. UNK is a degree-granting institution.
    3. UNK has legal authorization to grant its degrees, and it meets all the legal requirements to operate as an institution of higher education wherever it conducts its activities.
    4. UNK has legal documents to confirm its status as a public institution.
    5. UNK has a governing board that possesses and exercise necessary legal power to establish and review basic policies that govern the institution.
    6. UNK's governing board includes public members and is sufficiently autonomous from the administration to assure the integrity of the institution.
    7. UNK has an executive officer designated by the governing board to provide administrative leadership for the institution.
    8. UNK's governing board authorizes the institution's affiliation with the Commission.
    9. UNK employs a faculty that has earned from accredited institutions the degrees appropriate to the level of instruction offered by the institution.
    10. A sufficient number of faculty are full-time employees of the institution.
    11. UNK's faculty has a significant role in developing and evaluating all of the institution's educational programs.
    12. UNK confers degrees.
    13. UNK has degree programs in operation, with students enrolled in them.
    14. UNK's degree programs are compatible with the institution's mission and are based on recognized fields of study at the higher education level.
    15. UNK's degrees are appropriately named, following practices common to institutions of higher education in terms of both length and content of the programs.
    16. UNK's undergraduate degree programs include a coherent general education requirement consistent with the institution's mission and designed to ensure breadth of knowledge and to promote intellectual inquiry.
    17. UNK has admission policies and practices that are consistent with the institution's mission and appropriate to its educational programs.
    18. UNK provides its students access to those learning resources and support services requisite for its degree programs.
    19. UNK has an external financial audit by a certified public accountant or a public audit agency at least every two years.
    20. UNK's financial documents demonstrate the appropriate allocation and use of resources to support its educational programs.
    21. UNK's financial practices, records, and reports demonstrate fiscal viability.
    22. UNK's catalog or other official documents includes it mission statement along with accurate descriptions of:
      1. its educational programs and degree requirements;
      2. its learning resources,;
      3. its admissions policies and practices;
      4. its academic and nonacademic policies and procedures directly affecting students;
      5. its charges and refund policies; and
      6. the academic credentials of its faculty and administrators.
    23. UNK accurately discloses its standing with accrediting bodies with which it is affiliated.
    24. UNK makes available upon request information that accurately describes its financial condition.