CRITERION I: Mission


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Institutional Commitment to Excellence

There is a strong institutional commitment to excellence in the teaching provided by UNI faculty. This commitment is demonstrated by the high quality of the faculty who are recruited and retained by the University. All tenure-track University faculty hired in the last decade have the doctorate or appropriate terminal degree. Many of the faculty hired at UNI come with post-doctoral experience. The high quality of the student body is reflected by the mean ACT score of the entering freshman class (23.0 in 1999). The University's physical plant has received much attention over the last decade in the form of new and renovated academic buildings, attention to safety and handicapped-accessibility issues, and the building of a computer technology infrastructure that is essential to a modern teaching and learning environment. The Rod Library's commitment to excellence is evidenced by the many services it provides to the University community, including inter-library loans, photocopying, a dedicated microforms facility, document delivery, CD-ROM databases, and access for teaching and research purposes to ever-growing book and periodical collections. The Center for the Enhancement of Teaching, opened in 1993 and centrally located in the Library, serves as an important faculty resource for reaching new levels of excellence in their teaching.

The University's commitment to teaching excellence is further demonstrated by its assessment of the quality of the teaching and curricula at all levels through sets of internal and external measures. Student assessments of teaching are regularly conducted of probationary, of tenure-track faculty and, at least every five years, of tenured faculty in all departments. In addition, departments often use classroom peer observations and review of faculty teaching portfolios to evaluate teaching performance. Excellence in teaching is recognized and rewarded at UNI through several outstanding teaching awards at both the college and university levels. Innovative teaching and redesign of the curriculum are encouraged and rewarded through the annual Faculty Mini-Grant Program and various college programs. Several programs at the University are accredited by national accreditation organizations, thus requiring periodic reaccreditation visits and actions. All academic programs are subject to external academic program reviews on a seven-year cycle with follow-up reports on how review recommendations are addressed or appropriately implemented.

UNI has a strong commitment to the learning expected of its students. Every student with a declared major is assigned a major advisor who receives copies of advisees' transcripts and graduation evaluations. All five undergraduate colleges are responsible for offering the General Education Program that forms the liberal arts backbone of the curriculum. More than 90 percent of UNI students engage in at least one form of experiential learning course for credit prior to graduation (Source: UNI Graduating Senior Survey, 1999). Examples of these experiences include internships, co-op programs, research or teaching, and study abroad. In each of these activities, students have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a UNI faculty member. In summer 2000, the University received permission from the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, to implement a University Honors Program. Several measures have been identified and used to assess student learning success. Every department is now engaged in a continuous student outcomes assessment through an individually designed assessment plan. Departments are required to report periodically on their student outcomes assessment efforts and on how the curriculum has been modified as a result of the analysis of the assessment data.

Excellence in student services is also a distinctive quality of the University of Northern Iowa. In 1991, NCA evaluators identified student services as an institutional strength: "Overall, the Division of Educational and Student Services is very student centered and integrates well with Faculty Affairs" (NCA Team Report, p. 41). This quality has been continued through active participation of student services staff in the strategic planning process, as well as strong concurrence on the part of student services with efforts to maintain high admissions standards, support diversity, expand experiential education opportunities, institute an honors program, and provide improved student access to information systems and related technology. Since 1992, 22 student services staff members have been recognized for their exemplary service, and five staff members have received Regents Staff Excellence Awards. Factors contributing to strengths in student services are:

1. adequate funding

2. appropriate facilities

3. responsiveness to student needs

4. leadership by a team of diverse and experienced professionals




 

Introduction

Criteria I
Criteria II
Criteria III
Criteria IV
Criteria V
Summary &
Recommendations
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