University of Northern Iowa Higher Learning Commission Accreditation Review

CHAPTER 3: CRITERION ONE: MISSION AND INTEGRITY


Core Component 1a: The organization’s mission documents are clear and articulate publicly the organization’s commitments.
Core Component 1b: In its mission documents, the organization recognizes the diversity of its learners, other constituencies, and the greater society it serves. 
Core Component 1c: Understanding and support for the mission pervade the organization.
Core component 1d: The organization's governance and administrative structures promote effective leadership and support collaborative processes that enable the organization to fulfill its mission.
Core Component 1e: The organization upholds and protects its integrity.
Criterion One Summary

The organization operates with integrity to ensure the fulfillment of its mission through structures and processes that involve the board, administration, faculty, staff, and students.

 

Core Component 1a: The organization’s mission documents are clear and articulate publicly the organization’s commitments.

The University of Northern Iowa’s institutional mission is defined by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, in Policy 6.04 as follows: 

 

college of ed-gym

The University of Northern Iowa is a comprehensive university whose mission is to provide high-quality undergraduate programs founded on a strong liberal arts curriculum and selected graduate programs that meet the educational and career needs of the students it serves.  In fulfilling its tripartite mission of teaching, research/creative activity, and service, the University provides an educational environment with personalized learning experiences for students and a broad range of services designed to enhance the lives and livelihoods of Iowans.

 

a. Consistent with its historic purpose, the University of Northern Iowa shall 
    provide early childhood, elementary and secondary teacher preparation and
    educational leadership programs that prepare pre-K–12 teachers and
    educational leaders for service throughout Iowa and around the world. 

 

        b. The University shall provide a broad range of undergraduate programs and 

            selected graduate programs consistent with its mission as a comprehensive
            university.

    
        c. The University shall serve the ongoing needs of communities throughout Iowa by contributing to the provision
            of an educated citizenry and by providing opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to provide services to

            Iowa communities as part of their academic, co-curricular, and extra-curricular activities.[1] 

 

Furthermore, under Board of Regents, State of Iowa Policy 6.05 Strategic Planning, the University of Northern Iowa and the other regent institutions are required to develop, maintain, and update a strategic plan that includes statements of mission, vision, values, and culture.  The strategic plan and its elements must be consistent with the Board’s plan.[2]

 

In adherence to the Board of Regents mandate, UNI developed a mission statement for the planning period of 2004-2009:

 

The University of Northern Iowa is a comprehensive institution dedicated to providing a personalized learning environment, founded on a strong liberal arts curriculum.  It is committed to being an intellectually and culturally diverse community.  The University focuses both on undergraduate education, and on selected masters, doctoral and other graduate programs.  It is characterized by excellence in three areas: teaching and learning; research, scholarship, and creative work; and service.  Through its varied endeavors, UNI shares its expertise with, and provides service to, individuals, communities and organizations throughout the state, the nation and the world.[3]

 

The mission and vision also clearly articulate the constituents of UNI.   The commonly used tagline for UNI, “Students First,” is based on a mission commitment of being “dedicated to providing a personalized learning environment” with a focus on undergraduate education.  Iowans and their communities are constituents, as are the greater national and global communities.  UNI’s Values statement articulates a concern for the “well being of its students, faculty and staff” and among its objectives is maintenance of a “safe and supportive working and living environment ... that promotes individual wellbeing.”  Thus, in a variety of ways and throughout its mission documents, UNI recognizes its constituents and their importance to the institution.

 

The mission and vision statements are supported by five overarching goals:

  • Providing intellectually challenging and character-building experiences in a personalized learning environment.
  • Maintaining a faculty distinguished by creative and intellectually rigorous teaching and scholarship.
  • Focusing the institution on addressing critical local, state, national and global needs.
  • Promoting a campus culture characterized by diversity, collegiality, mutual respect, organizational effectiveness, and shared responsibility.
  • Providing and maintaining appropriate resources for effective and efficient University operations.

Each goal is further supported by up to seven objectives.  Together these are meant to provide guidance to University administration, faculty, and staff in carrying out their day-to-day work in ways that will help UNI achieve its stated mission.  For example, Goal 1.0 states that UNI will provide intellectually challenging and character-building experiences for its students by maintaining excellence in academic programs and providing a liberal arts education.  This general mission commitment was further supported by a March 2002 statement on, “The Purpose and Goals of the Liberal Arts Core.”  Recognizing the need to update the University community’s understanding of the role of the LAC, the Liberal Arts Core Committee updated that statement and it was subsequently approved by the Faculty Senate in October 2009 .[4]  Other statements are still to be developed.  Similarly, the group working on the Foundations of Excellence Philosophy Dimension found no specific guiding philosophy or rationale for education of first-year students.  

 

The University has three main priorities: be known as a leading undergraduate institution; be known as a leader in pre-K–12 issues; and enhance the economic, social, and cultural development of the state. The President clearly articulates these priorities and consistently communicates them to campus and community groups,[5] and they have become the foundation for University planning.

 

The development of the mission statement over time can be examined by comparing the components of the mission for the last three strategic plan cycles.

 

Table 3.1 Comparison of UNI Mission Statements from the past three strategic plans

1996-2001

2001-2006

2004-2009

Public university

A comprehensive institution

A comprehensive institution

Emphasis on undergraduate education

Focuses [both] on undergraduate education that emphasizes a personalized learning environment

Focuses [both] on undergraduate education 

Founded on a strong liberal arts curriculum

Founded on a strong liberal arts curriculum

Founded on a strong liberal arts curriculum 

Offers masters and selected doctoral programs that contribute to the intellectual vitality of the academic community

Selected master’s, doctoral and other graduate programs that provide specialized educational experiences

Selected master’s, doctoral and other graduate programs 

Provides a diverse, dynamic learning environment

Committed to providing a diverse, dynamic learning environment

 

that emphasizes a personalized learning environment

Dedicated to providing a personalized learning environment 

Characterized by excellence in teaching

 

Increases knowledge and promotes student growth through scholarship and service

Characterized by excellence in teaching, research and service

Characterized by excellence in…teaching; research, scholarship and creative work; and service

Shares its expertise with individuals, communities and organizations

Incorporates scholarship and service to individuals, communities and organizations throughout the state, the nation and the world

UNI shares its expertise with, and provides service to, individuals, communities and organizations throughout the state, the nation and the world

 

 

 

Committed to being an intellectually and culturally diverse community 

 

Many elements of the mission have stayed the same, as one would expect, but the evolution of the mission over the past 13 years is evidence of an awareness of the changing external environment for higher education and of a changing conception of institutional character.

 

A similar analysis of the UNI vision statements over the same period gives evidence that the institutional leadership regularly evaluates and revises its mission documents as appropriate to changing internal and external factors. 

 

Table 3.2 Comparison of UNI Vision Statements from the past three strategic plans

1999-2001

2001-2006

2004-2009

University community that nurtures intellectual vitality

 

Characterized by a multicultural and inclusive community

A commitment to excellence coupled with continuous improvement

 

 

Recognized nationally as innovative, dynamic and exciting

Nation’s finest public comprehensive university

The leader among the nation’s finest public comprehensive universities

Known for educational quality, student-centered focus, scholarship, teacher-scholar faculty and service beyond campus

Known for high quality learning environments and a genuine sense of community

High quality learning environments

 

 

Socially responsible contributions to the State of Iowa, the nation and the world

 

The UNI focused mission statement, “The University of Northern Iowa offers a world-class university education, providing personalized experiences and creating a lifetime of opportunities.” appears at the bottom of the home page, visible to students, parents, prospective students and their parents, faculty, staff, and other visitors to the UNI Web site.  A person interested in the more extensive mission statement would have to search the UNI Web site to locate the current mission documents.[6]  The “Students First” tag line, featured prominently on the institutional homepage, is well known and often referred to as the essence of the institutional mission.  The University should consistently promote its mission documents with both external and internal constituencies.

 

Strengths

  • UNI has a strong and clear mission statement and vision which it appropriately reviews and updates as needed to match its changing environment and internal community.

Challenges

  • UNI’s most recent strategic planning process was delayed because of the lengthened strategic planning timeline of the Board of Regents.  The Board did not complete its strategic plan until spring 2010.  UNI began its process in fall 2009 but the draft plan[7] cannot be finalized until it is approved by the Board of Regents.
  • The mission needs to be supported with specific and measurable goals that are consistently communicated to campus and community constituents.

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Core Component 1b: In its mission documents, the organization recognizes the diversity of its learners, other constituencies, and the greater society it serves. 

The University’s mission statement both recognizes the contribution diversity makes to students’ education and sets the foundation for how the University will maximize the benefits campus diversity offers. 

 

Through an examination of the statements of mission, culture, values, and goals, it is possible to clearly identify the University’s ambitions and commitments.  Each of these documents demonstrates the high value the University of Northern Iowa places on diversity and the role it plays in personal development and education. 

 

diversityWithin the mission statement itself, the University proclaims that it is “committed to being an intellectually and culturally diverse community.”[8]  To attain the benefits a diverse network of individuals provides, the University values “intellectual and academic freedom, dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.”[9]  The academic development of its students is accelerated by increased exposure to others who have different cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.   The President also has issued a statement on diversity that not only reaffirms UNI’s dedication to diversity but also outlines what diversity has to offer in terms of both the individual and the community.[10] 

 

As described in the 2004-2009 strategic plan, UNI’s culture includes “an open, ethical and caring community that promotes diversity, honesty, integrity, respect, fairness, trust, and civility among its members.”[11]   Through this culture statement the University of Northern Iowa identifies itself as an institution dedicated to creating, maintaining, and defending this set of values among University constituents and those they may affect.  The University asserts that increased levels of cultural awareness should be a vital component of students’ educational experience. 

 

global health

The emphasis the University places on both recognizing diversity and fostering its contribution is highlighted within the University’s community values:

  • Expansive awareness of multiple perspectives characteristic of a global society.
  • An ethical, caring and diverse community characterized by pluralism and civility.
  • An appreciation of people with different backgrounds with an emphasis on gender, race/ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities, socioeconomic class, and national origin.[12]

The values a University holds must not be merely words but instead must stimulate action.  Numerous University goals correlate with UNI’s mission to maintain a vibrant and diverse university community:

 

Objective 1.5: Broaden and enrich the intellectual and learning experiences of students by increasing the number of U.S. racial and ethnic minority and international students, faculty, and staff.

 

Objective 2.1: Recruit and retain a highly qualified and diverse faculty.

 

Goal 4.0: Promote a University culture characterized by diversity, collegiality, mutual respect, organizational effectiveness, and shared responsibility.

 

Objective 4.1: Employ recruitment and retention strategies that will increase the number of U.S. racial and ethnic minority, international and protected-class students, faculty, staff and University officials.[13]

 

To address the University’s diversity goals, President Allen formed the Diversity Council to provide leadership and coordination; the Diversity Advisory Committee to provide input and ideas; and College Diversity Councils to help meet specific goals and objectives.  The creation of the Diversity Matters Web site by the Office of Compliance and Equity Management provides a forum to share resources, recognize individual contributions, promote diversity initiatives, and report progress in meeting diversity-related goals to its constituencies.

 

Data gathered by the Student Satisfaction Survey and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) provide evidence that UNI expresses its values concretely.  For example, when asked if the University values all of its members regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, age, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, physical disability, or socioeconomic status, 72% of UNI students responding to the 2008 Student Satisfaction survey agreed or strongly agreed that the University does so.[14] 

 

In this same study, by comparison, less than 13% of these students reported having experienced a prejudicial remark made on the basis of one of these factors.  When asked if the University is effectively preparing its students to be contributing members of a multicultural/multinational world, almost 57% of students responded that they either agree or strongly agree.  Over 64% of these students stated that they have had positive social interactions with students of different backgrounds or beliefs than their own.[15]

 

Data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) provide additional evidence of University support for values related to diversity.  The 2007 administration of NSSE and FSSE showed that 34% of faculty and 39% of UNI seniors felt that UNI put very much or quite a bit of emphasis on encouraging contact among students from different economic, social and racial or ethnic backgrounds.  The 2009 NSSE for UNI showed 45% of UNI seniors responding very much or quite a bit in response to this survey item.

 

Strengths 

  • The mission documents, including the statements on culture, values, vision, and goals clearly identify the University’s commitment to diversity.
  • Students agree that the University values being a place that is welcoming to diverse individuals and one that seeks to prepare them for a diverse and global world.
  • The Diversity Council, Diversity Advisory Committee, and College Diversity Councils address diversity-related goals.
  • The Diversity Matters Web site is available to share resources and promote diversity initiatives.

Challenges

  • Mission documents need to be made more readily accessible and promoted to all UNI constituencies to improve their understanding and commitment.

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Core Component 1c: Understanding and support for the mission pervade the organization.

As previously noted in this chapter, the Board of Regents policy on Strategic Planning (Policy 6.05) requires that the University of Northern Iowa’s strategic plan be consistent with the Board’s overarching plan for Regents institutions.  The Board must agree to the overall strategic direction of the institution, and annual progress reports must be presented to the Board.  As a result, the Board demonstrates that it fully understands and supports the mission of UNI through its approval processes.

 

Evidence of understanding and support of the mission by faculty, staff, and students is less clear.  No specific research has been conducted in the recent past to assess recall of the mission statement.  Anecdotal evidence reveals that most employees are able to sum up their understanding of the mission in a way that reflects the major elements of the formal statement: comprehensive, liberal arts, student-focused, service to community, state, and nation.  Likewise, the mission of the institution is communicated to parents and new students during orientation, to enrolled students throughout their campus experiences, and to new faculty and staff during orientation sessions. 

 

Due to Board policy, planning and budgeting activities are guided by the mission.  UNI is directed by the Board of Regents to develop plans and budgets which “reflect the overall mission, goals and priorities of the institution, and show in clear terms how the institution intends to accomplish its strategies.” (Policy 6.05)  As the succeeding chapter on Criterion Two demonstrates, the University uses an inclusive approach to campus planning, and decision making is guided by the resulting strategic goals and objectives. 

 

In an age of economic turmoil and declining state support, the University demonstrates careful stewardship of the funds generated through tuition, state appropriations, and grants and giving by making mission-driven strategic decisions.  One example of this strategic planning, budgeting, and decision making is the Academic Program Assessment initiated in August 2008.  In the first phase, a task force developed a model of self-assessment to be applied to all academic programs.  One of the key components of this model was assessment of the centrality of the mission to each program.  Other assessment criteria included student demand, the quality of teaching and curriculum, scholarly and creative accomplishment by the program’s faculty, and outreach and engagement in the community.  These criteria are also closely tied to accomplishment of UNI’s mission.  Based on the evaluations of these criteria, a second task force recommended that programs be phased out, maintained, or reorganized. 

 

Another example of mission-guided planning was the decision to participate in the Foundations of Excellence® (FoE) program.  The mission statement’s focus on personalized learning environments grounded in the liberal arts, particularly for undergraduate students, was a key reason for undertaking the FoE review. 

In assessing UNI’s accomplishment of this core component, it is important to evaluate the goals of administrative and academic subunits for congruence with the organizational mission. At UNI, a number of administrative and academic units have developed their own mission, goals, and objectives, many of which are available on the UNI Web site.  

 

Strengths

  • The Board of Regents has a clear understanding of UNI’s mission, and its decisions as a governing board reflect support for the mission.
  • Faculty, staff, and students share a general understanding of the University’s mission.
  • Planning and budgeting activities are driven by the University’s mission and linked priorities.

Challenges

  • Evidence needs to be gathered to determine the extent to which campus constituencies understand and support UNI’s specific mission statement.
  • Although some academic and administrative subunits have articulated missions and goals which are congruent with the overall mission and vision, this practice needs to be followed in all areas.

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Core component 1d: The organization's governance and administrative structures promote effective leadership and support collaborative processes that enable the organization to fulfill its mission.

At the highest level of governance, the Board of Regents works collaboratively with the three Iowa public universities to serve the people of the State and promote higher education that will provide Iowans with the skills necessary for 21st century leadership.  Although the University of Northern Iowa is in alignment with the overall strategic plan provided by the Board of Regents, the Board acknowledges the administrative and governance structures of each university and states explicitly:

 

prairie researchThe Board expects the universities, in accordance with their respective missions, to

  • Provide a high-quality, accessible education to all students, in concert with Iowa’s other educational entities;
  • Engage in high-quality research, scholarship, and creative activities to enhance the quality of life for Iowans and society in general;
  • Provide needed public services;
  • Support economic development in partnership with public and private sectors.[16]    

Furthermore, the Board provides clear communications concerning policies, procedures, and expectations of each of the Regent institutions on its Web sites and through its regular public meetings throughout the year.[17]

 

Under Iowa Code Sec. 262, the Board of Regents selects the president of the institution and provides a review at least annually. In addition, the Board must approve the president’s selection of the provost, vice-presidents, and directors of major institutional units.

 

At the institutional level of governance, UNI presently is organized into four major divisions.  Academic Affairs is headed by the Executive Vice-President and Provost.  Student Affairs, Marketing and Advancement, and Administration and Financial Services are headed by vice-presidents.  These individuals, along with the Special Assistant to the President for Board and Government Relations and the Assistant Vice-President for University Marketing & Public Relations, comprise the President’s Cabinet, which is responsible for setting institutional policy and advising the President on strategic and operational matters.  Effective July 1, 2010, a recently announced reorganization will eliminate the Division of Marketing and Advancement, which includes the Offices of University Marketing & Public Relations; University Development, which includes the UNI Foundation; and Alumni Relations, which includes the UNI Alumni Association.  The current division vice-president will continue to serve as president of the UNI Foundation, reporting to the President.  University Development and Alumni Relations will continue to report to this individual.  The assistant vice president for Marketing & Public Relations will have a new title, executive director, Office of University Relations, and will report directly to the President.  This realignment is expected to result in “streamlined strategic and integrated marketing decision making.”  For example, it will facilitate university marketing staff’s ability to “focus on a more strategic student recruitment program with the Office of Admissions, and work directly with each college on their marketing and strategic plans.”[18]

 

science classroomThe Executive Vice-President and Provost provides vision for academic affairs, guides academic planning and assessment of academic programs, and provides overall administrative leadership to the division.  The Provost works collaboratively with the Academic Affairs Council on academic matters including policy, programs, budget, and personnel.  The Council is composed of the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs, the deans of the five undergraduate colleges, the deans of Continuing Education and Special Programs, the Graduate College, and the Library, and assistant provosts for International Programs, Sponsored Programs, and Information Technology.

 

In summer 2009, Dr. Gloria Gibson became the Executive Vice-President and Provost.  She identified the following as her priorities for the institution:

  • Provide intellectually challenging experiences for undergraduate students by offering a strong liberal arts core and dynamic degree programs; and promote and encourage excellence in graduate education.
  • Support a faculty distinguished by their creative and intellectually rigorous teaching and scholarship.
  • Promote interdisciplinary collaborations between faculty, departments, and colleges that will result in courses and degree programs addressing current and future global, cultural, social, economic and/or political issues.
  • Focus on diverse educational delivery systems including innovative online programs and degrees.
  • Integrate an international/intercultural dimension into the university fabric by increasing student exchange programs, aggressively recruiting international students, and advancing internationalization in research, teaching, and service.
  • Encourage faculty to seek external funding and collaborative opportunities through the resources of the Office of Sponsored Programs.
  • Advance UNI’s commitment to diversity in all areas (recruitment of faculty, staff, and students; campus climate; curricular and co-curricular activities).

The Vice-President for Student Affairs oversees Admissions, Career Services, the Dean of Students, Financial Aid, Maucker Union, Center for Multicultural Education, the Registrar, the Department of Residence and University Health Services.

 

The Vice-President for Administration and Finance manages Athletics, Business Operations, the Event Center, Facilities Services, Financial Accounting & Reporting, Human Resources Services, Public Safety, Technology Systems and Services, and University Events.

 

An organizational chart[19] shows the lines of authority and responsibility within each of the divisions. For a number of years the chart has been available to the campus community on page 17 of the printed campus directory.

 

UNI has a long history of shared governance with its faculty.  Faculty participate in governance of the institution through the Faculty Senate, which represents the faculty in decisions regarding educational policy and curriculum and may formulate and recommend policies to the President or to other units of the University.  In addition there are faculty committees that address a variety of issues of importance to the governance of the University, including these:

  • University Curriculum Committee,[20] which reviews undergraduate curriculum proposals and makes recommendations for changes in existing curricula to the Faculty Senate;
  • Liberal Arts Core Committee,[21] which initiates or receives proposals from Colleges for changes in the Liberal Arts Core program;
  • Educational Policies Commission,[22] which researches and reports on broad curricular and educational policies to the Faculty Senate.

These and other University committees insure that faculty have the opportunity to engage in policy making and exercise appropriate control over curricular and educational matters. A full listing of faculty committees can be accessed using the drop-down menu on the Committees Web page.[23]

 

Faculty are represented by United Faculty, and their employment relationship is governed by the Master Agreement with the Board of Regents, which is renegotiated every two years.  Approximately 30% of tenured and tenure-track faculty are dues-paying members of United Faculty.[24]  The agreement contains rules governing salaries, benefits, summer employment, faculty evaluation, leaves, and maintenance of personnel files. Grievance procedures are described in Articles Ten and Eleven of the contract.[25]  The Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs meets with the union leadership monthly to discuss issues of mutual concern and to deal with issues arising under the contract.  The Associate Provost also provides support to deans, directors, and department heads in interpreting and implementing contract provisions.

 

In the 2008 UNI-United Faculty report on The State of AAUP Principles at UNI, slightly over a third (34.1%) of the United Faculty membership surveyed reported dissatisfaction with shared governance at UNI.[26]  Because there is not always a clear indication of how or when recommendations will be implemented, there is concern from some United Faculty members that their contributions to shared governance are not valued or appreciated by academic administrators.

 

There are multiple channels of communication for keeping administrators and faculty members engaged in shared governance to accomplish the University’s mission.  The President’s Office maintains a Web page which contains information about the President’s strategic priorities, frequent budget updates, presentations to the University Council, special messages from the President to the campus, texts of speeches, and links to a variety of internal resources with information about administrative operations.  To further facilitate communication, the President meets with the Campus Advisory Group, which includes student, faculty, and staff representatives of the various campus leadership and stakeholder groups.  The President also addresses the entire faculty at a fall faculty meeting to report on activities and accomplishments of the previous year and to present priorities and challenges for the upcoming academic year.  In addition, Fall Convocation is held annually for students, faculty, and staff to review accomplishments of the previous year, discuss priorities, and acknowledge the excellence of faculty and staff.

 

The Provost and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs regularly attend Faculty Senate meetings.  The Provost meets regularly with Senate leaders, and the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Senate are invited to attend the Council of Provosts’ meeting held the day before a Board of Regents meeting and also to be present at Board meetings.  Beginning in FY10, the President and Provost met twice each semester with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Faculty Senate.  The President and Provost annually visit with all academic colleges, and the President annually visits with most non-academic units. 

 

Administrative officers generally maintain open-door policies.  Electronic forms of communication including UNI Online, and broadcast e-mails are also used to communicate with faculty members about administrative issues.  Task forces and ad hoc committees with faculty, staff, and administrative representation are frequently formed to study issues and make recommendations.

 

Strengths

  • The President has created an online presence that allows easy access and understanding of organizational structure, policies and procedures, and University committees.
  • Faculty interests are represented by an active Faculty Senate and union (UNI-United Faculty).
  • There are multiple channels of communication between faculty and administration that encourage collaboration and shared decision making on issues important to faculty.

Challenges

  • In an era of rapid change, administrative structures need to be reexamined frequently to ensure that the institution is in a strong position to fulfill its mission. 

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Core Component 1e: The organization upholds and protects its integrity.

UNI is committed to upholding and protecting its integrity.  One way in which it shows this commitment is through the policies and procedures it has in place for long-term planning, both as an organization and by division.  These include procedures for long-term academic planning.[27]  In developing its long-range plans UNI is expected to relate program projections to the mission of the institution; the mission is to be used as a reference point for both planning and setting of program priorities.  The program study reports and any related mission changes must be reviewed and approved by the Board of Regents before proposed changes can be implemented.  UNI must complete this program review every two years.  These processes keep the institution from drifting away from its mission and help to focus UNI on strategic priorities.

 

The Board of Regents also insures that the institution protects and upholds its integrity through its centralized internal audit function.  The Board employs a central director who oversees the work of operational auditors on staff at each of the three Regent institutions.  UNI has two operational auditors.  Each spring the audit director and campus staff meet with administrators to identify areas of potential risk or concern for the institution.  An audit plan is then developed for the upcoming fiscal year.  In addition, key administrators may request an internal audit at any time during the year if they become aware of situations that need attention or if they want to seek process improvements.

 

Within the last two years, internal audits have been conducted on University spending controls, recharge centers rate compliance, adherence to policies on conflict of interest, elimination of deficit fund balances, international programs, export controls, and special compensation.

 

In 2008-2009, the President requested audits of Camp Adventure’s use of the procurement cards for travel and the Malcolm Price Laboratory School’s (MPLS) internal controls.  Camp Adventure offers programs for United States military installations, embassies, and corporate clubs and organizations worldwide.   MPLS, a part of UNI’s College of Education, is located on campus and provides a setting for clinical teacher education and research at the early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school levels.  In each case, the operational auditors’ examination resulted in a referral to the Auditor of State’s special investigation unit, and the state auditor recommended improvements in policies and procedures.  In each case, the President responded quickly to implement recommendations.  After release of the audit report on MPLS, the President made a strong statement to internal and external constituencies renewing the institution’s commitment to stewardship of resources entrusted to the University by students, families, and taxpayers.[28]  The administration of UNI operates with high standards of fiscal integrity.

 

UNI also is aware of and follows all laws governing its operations. The Board of Regents and UNI are creations of State law.  The Board was created under Iowa Code chapter 262.[29]   UNI is noted in chapter 262, along with the other Regent institutions and is also specifically and directly provided for in Iowa Code chapter 268.[30] 

 

The University employs a full-time attorney to oversee legal issues and work in concert with the Board of Regents and Office of the Attorney General, State of Iowa.  Full legal and financial reports are provided to the Board of Regents on a regular basis.  UNI also employs a full-time secretary/comptroller and closely follows industry standard practices.[31]

 

The Board and UNI must comply with other State statutes that apply to agencies of the state of Iowa and their employees.  Examples include Iowa Code chapters 20 (Collective Bargaining),[32] 22 (Open Records),[33] and 68B (Government Ethics and Lobbying Act, including the "gift law" in section 68B.22).[34]  Applicable federal laws include the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Higher Education Opportunity Act governing financial aid, and employment-related laws such as those governing wage payments, benefits, and discrimination and harassment. 

 

Specific Board of Regents rules or policies are found in the Iowa Administrative Code under part 681 Regents Board and in the Board's Policy Manual.[35]  Chapters 7 (Business Procedures) and 9 (Property and Facilities) of the Board's Policy Manual contain policies and procedures that insure fiscal honesty of the Board and UNI.  

 

UNI makes its policies manifest in a policy manual available online.[36]  The manual contains policies governing the administrative organization, academics, students, employment, public safety, facilities, University services, and legal affairs.  Chapter 13 contains affirmative action, equal opportunity, discrimination and harassment, and other general policies.  The Policies and Procedures Manual outlines several key rules governing federal and state lobbying and political activities (10.09) that ensure the University complies with the Hatch Act.[37]  An institutional policy review committee regularly meets to review all policies proposed by any person for adoption by the University before the policies are forwarded to the President for approval by the Cabinet. 

 

Additionally, the organization and procedures of UNI provide appropriate and relevant evidence of its integrity of operations.  For example, the UNI offices and personnel of Financial Accounting and Reporting Services, Office of Business Operations, Internal Audit, Financial Aid, and Office of Sponsored Programs/Grants and Contracts Administration promote and further the goal of fiscal honesty.  Fiscal honesty is fostered and supported with the regular use of the internal, external, and State audits mentioned previously.  Adherence to legal mandates is also enhanced through UNI offices such as the Registrar's Office, Financial Aid Office, Office of Compliance and Equity Management, University Counsel, Office of the Executive Vice-President and Provost, Human Resource Services, Purchasing, Facilities Services, and Environmental Health and Safety.

 

The Office of Compliance and Equity Management (OCEM) oversees and monitors University compliance with federal and state laws and regulations in the areas of civil rights in employment and education, such as Titles VII and IX of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Iowa Civil Rights Act.  The OCEM also reviews policies in these areas to ensure full compliance and serves as a liaison to external agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.[38]

 

The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) provides guidance to faculty and administrators on compliance with laws and regulations on research involving human participants and animals.  The office oversees Institutional Review Board (IRB) compliance and provides policies and procedures to prevent illegal and unethical conflicts of interest and offers general advice on scholarly responsibilities in the conduct of research.[39]  In compliance with Federal requirements, the office has developed policy and procedures governing research misconduct of both employees and students.  In addition, OSP reviews grant proposals and assists principal investigators with financial management of grant funds, including approval of special compensation payments from grant funds.

 

public safety-bikesOther University departments oversee compliance and inform the University community about pertinent laws and regulations.  The Department of Public Safety houses the campus police, who are state certified, fully licensed peace officers.  Public Safety coordinates with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in ensuring that criminal laws are followed on campus.[40]  The office informs the campus on issues including sexual assault, drug abuse, and crime prevention.

 

The University of Northern Iowa has developed and implemented a series of policies and procedures that are clear, accessible, and fair, guaranteeing the rights and specifying the responsibilities of constituents. The University’s Policy and Procedure Manual referenced above outlines these areas.

 

Students are governed by both by an Academic Ethics/Discipline Policy[41] and a Student Conduct Code.[42] Students are expected to observe the commonly accepted standards of academic honesty and integrity, which are further described in the policy.   Policies and procedures are in place for both undergraduate (12.02)[43] and graduate (12.01)[44] student grievances.  A routine review of academic ethics is currently underway by a committee of faculty, staff, students, and administrators under the direction of the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs.

 

The Student Conduct Code is administered by the Dean of Students and provides for a hearing procedure to insure student rights are protected.  The conduct code organizes offenses by which values have been contravened (honesty, respect, or responsibility) and covers non-academic settings and occurrences.  The Office of the Vice-President of Student Affairs maintains a student complaint log along with other evidence of compliance with University policies and procedures.  The Office emphasizes timely responses and follow-ups to complaints and grievances.  The Student Handbook[45] outlines student rights in a variety of areas, including in the classroom, access to records, and the prevention of harassment and discrimination.  

 

The Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Council oversees the academic progress of student athletes and monitors compliance with NCAA rules and guidelines.[46]  UNI has an NCAA faculty representative, who is part of the Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Council.  In spring 2010 a UNI football player was awarded the NCAA Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship.[47]

 

A Code of Ethics and Academic Responsibility for faculty outlines their scholarly responsibilities and their responsibilities to students, colleagues, the University, and the greater community of which UNI is a member.[48] The rights and responsibilities of merit staff employees[49] and P&S[50] employees are likewise stated clearly and regularly updated.  In each of these cases, policies and procedures provide for the consistent and fair implementation of these standards.

 

The University provides clarity and fairness in implementing policies in the area of finance.  The Financial Accounting and Reporting Services provide a listing of responsibilities their office has to the University community.[51]  Rules governing retention of financial records, open records laws, bank wires, and tax and insurance obligations are specifically detailed.  In 2005, the University, along with the other Regents institutions, entered into an agreement with the EthicsPoint reporting service to provide the University community with a means to make anonymous and confidential reports of financial misconduct that may involve criminal, unethical, or otherwise inappropriate behavior in violation of University policy or State law.  Individuals reporting or inquiring in good faith about potential financial misconduct or seeking guidance about how to handle suspected financial misconduct are protected from retaliation.[52]

 

Extension and auxiliary enterprises, such as Business and Community Services, [53] provide support and integrated service for business and community organizations and operate in an open atmosphere, fostering a culture of honesty, fairness, and transparency when dealing with their constituencies.

 

alumni member cheeringUniversity alumni are provided with numerous opportunities to become involved in the life of the University.[54]  The UNI Foundation[55] provides information to alumni on the actual use of any donations they make and through its “feedback” and “contact” portals allows alumni to respond to or raise questions of Foundation officials.

 

The University aims to be transparent to the citizens and elected officials of Iowa.  It maintains a vigorous media relations program and a comprehensive Web site.[56]  The University is in the process of adopting new content management software that will improve the appearance and use of the Web site.  In addition the President’s Office maintains a Web site[57] through which the President provides regular updates about the workings of the University and issues affecting it.

 

Throughout the year, the University receives many Freedom of Information requests, primarily from the media.  A log of these requests, and responses to them, is maintained by the Office of the University Secretary.  That office also is responsible for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.[58]  Great pains are taken to ensure that student information is handled according to federal and state laws.  UNI is committed to complying with FERPA[59] and HIPAA[60] regulations.[61]

 

Strengths

  • UNI’s leadership is dedicated to operating with integrity and fairness.
  • UNI complies in a timely fashion with Board of Regents’ policies calling for review of programs.
  • The University has a core set of policies and procedures governing the conduct of its students, faculty, and staff.
  • The University has procedures in place to protect the rights of its internal constituencies and to enforce their responsibilities to the campus community.

Challenges

  • The University has had a decentralized structure with a great deal of authority delegated across the University for oversight and implementation of policies and procedures.  Because of this, the University must be careful to ensure consistency in interpretation, application, and development of policy.
  • Not all University policies and procedures are systematically reviewed.
  • A delay in the Board of Regents’ strategic planning process has slowed down review and revision of policies and procedures.
  • The University’s mission should be more accessible on the UNI Web site.

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CRITERION ONE SUMMARY

The University of Northern Iowa has a clear, well developed mission statement, which is implicitly understood and supported by the Board of Regents, the administration, faculty, staff, and students.   Processes are in place to assist the University leadership in operating with fiscal prudence, legal fidelity, and integrity.  The leadership is dedicated to maintaining institutional integrity and operating with fairness and respect toward all its constituents.

 

The University has employed a decentralized operation and therefore needs to do a better job of articulating its policies and procedures to all internal constituents.  Policies need review, discussion by campus groups, and revision.  Furthermore, all faculty, staff, and students need to understand appropriate policies and procedures better in order to continue to operate in ways that most effectively support the mission of the University of Northern Iowa.

 

Strengths

  • UNI has both a clear mission statement and well-articulated strategic priorities.
  • The institution is keenly aware of the diversity of the society in which it operates and is striving to meet the needs of its diverse learners and constituent groups.
  • The organization has many processes in place for consultation and collaboration with its constituent groups.  The administration seeks input into plans for achieving its strategic vision.
  • UNI leadership is committed to operating with integrity and is implementing policies and procedures to assist in effective and sound operations.

Areas for Improvement

  • In view of the fact that a new strategic plan is currently being written, the institution needs to develop ways to more effectively communicate its mission and vision to the campus community.
  •  University policies and procedures are not routinely reviewed.

Recommendations

  • Ensure that mission documents are readily accessible for all UNI constituencies through the Web site and other means.
  • Develop a plan to actively disseminate mission documents and encourage their integration into unit planning.
  • Align unit mission statements with the institutional mission.
  • Develop a timeline for appropriate regular review and update of University policies and procedures.

[2] http://www.regents.iowa.gov/StratPlan/stratplan2004-2009.html
[3] http://www.uni.edu/president/2004-2009-strategic-plan
[4] http://www.uni.edu/vpaa/lac/documents/pg-final.pdf
[5] http://www.uni.edu/president/president-allens-priorities-university-northern-iowa
[6] http://www.uni.edu/president/2004-2009-strategic-plan
[7] http://www.uni.edu/strategicplan/
[8] http://www.uni.edu/president/2004-2009-strategic-plan
[9] http://www.uni.edu/president/2004-2009-strategic-plan
[10] http://www.uni.edu/diversity/
[11] http://www.uni.edu/president/2004-2009-strategic-plan
[12] http://www.uni.edu/president/2004-2009-strategic-plan
[13] http://www.uni.edu/president/2004-2009-strategic-plan
[14] http://www.ir.uni.edu/dbWeb/pdf/surveys/satisfaction_08.pdf?CFID=32488&CFTOKEN=14529600
[15] http://www.ir.uni.edu/dbWeb/pdf/surveys/satisfaction_08.pdf?CFID=32488&CFTOKEN=14529600
[16] http://www.regents.iowa.gov/StratPlan/stratplan2004-2009.html
[17] http://www.regents.iowa.gov/
[18] http://www.uni.edu/accreditation/sites/default/files/Reduction%20of%20Administrative%20Units%20-%20Draft%20Response%20to%20Form%20H%20for%20BOR%20meeting%20June%202010.docx
[19] http://www.ir.uni.edu/dbweb/orgchart/
[20] http://www.uni.edu/vpaa/ucc/index.shtml
[21] http://www.uni.edu/committees/faculty/liberal-arts-core-committee
[22] http://www.uni.edu/committees/faculty/educational-policies-commission
[23] http://www.uni.edu/president/committees.shtml
[24] http://www.uni.edu/accreditation/sites/default/files/E-mail%20re%20Faculty%20Matters%20from%20Virginia%20Arthur%20to%20Michael%20Licari%2006-12-10.doc
[25] http://www.uni.edu/vpaa/09-11facultycontract/index.shtml
[26] http://www.uni.edu/accreditation/sites/default/files/The%20State%20of%20AAUP%20Principles%20at%20UNI%20-%20Spring%202009.pdf
[27] http://www.uni.edu/president/policies/201.shtml
[28] http://www.uni.edu/president/messages
[29] http://www.legis.state.ia.us/IACODE/2003/262/
[30] http://www.legis.state.ia.us/IACODE/1999/268/
[31] http://www.uni.edu/policies/
[32] http://www.legis.state.ia.us/IACODE/1999SUPPLEMENT/20/
[33] http://www.legis.state.ia.us/IACODE/1999/22/
[34] http://www.iowa.gov/ethics/legal/chapter68b.htm
[35] http://www.legis.state.ia.us/Rules/Current/iac/681/68113/68113.pdf
[36] http://www.uni.edu/policies/
[39] http://www.uni.edu/osp/irb
[40] http://www.vpaf.uni.edu/pubsaf/police_division/index.shtml.
[41] http://www.uni.edu/president/policies/301.shtml
[42] http://www.uni.edu/president/policies/302.shtml
[43] http://www.uni.edu/president/policies/1202.shtml
[44] http://www.uni.edu/president/policies/1201.shtml
[45] http://www.uni.edu/studentaffairs/deanofstudents/handbook/
[46] http://www.vpaf.uni.edu/iaac/mission.shtml
[47] http://www.uni.edu/this-is-uni/josh-mahoney-awarded-prestigious-ncaa-postgraduate-scholarship
[48] http://www.uni.edu/president/policies/610.shtml
[49] http://www.uni.edu/policies/510
[50] http://www.uni.edu/policies/520
[51] http://www.vpaf.uni.edu/fars/
[52] https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/report_custom.asp?clientid=10957
[53] http://www.bcs.uni.edu/
[54] http://www.uni.edu/resources/alumni/index.shtml
[55] http://www.uni-foundation.org/
[56] http://www.uni.edu/pubrel/newsroom/
[57] http://www.uni.edu/president/
[58] http://access.uni.edu/reports/cafr/
[59] http://www.uni.edu/registrar/schedule_fall2009/misc_info.shtml#9
[60] http://www.uni.edu/deanofstudents/faculty/disclosure
[61] http://www.uni.edu/president/policies/311.shtml