CRITERION IV: Planning


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Effective Decision-Making Processes

The University of Northern Iowa's emphasis on effective decision-making is articulated in both the 1996-2001 Strategic Plan and the Strategic Plan for the years 2001-2006. Specifically, our current plan spells out support for the institution's decision-making goals under Goal 3D, Ensure that useful information is easily accessible, accurate and widely shared. Additionally, the University's Strategic Plan for the years 2001-2006 supports decision making under Goal 5, Increase faculty, staff, and student participation in university governance activities. With these objectives in mind, the staff, faculty, and students of the University of Northern Iowa have incorporated and benefited from effective decision-making in numerous ways:

1. In recent years, the Office of Information Management and Analysis has enhanced its accumulation, summarization and coordination of data in a number of reports intended to aid in decision-making processes at many levels. Some examples of these reports include the Class Size Report, the Instruction Cost Report, the Enhanced Grade Analysis Report and the Graduate Variance Analysis Report. The Class Size report, for example, allows the Provost, deans, and department heads to monitor the effects of enrollment growth on class size and to adjust faculty resources accordingly.

2. Using information technology resources, the University has built and continuously maintains and enhances a data warehouse to provide decision support at various administrative levels. This information system is available to administrators online through Access UNI and includes such databases as University budget detail by account and name, general ledger detail by account (updated nightly), enrollment reports by semester, and a voucher register.

3. According to the University's decentralized budget policy, responsibility for managing departmental resources is primarily in the hands of the department head and/or college dean. Within budget policy, departments have the flexibility to reallocate savings from one budget line to another, thereby allowing more efficient and flexible decision-making related to resources at the department or college level. The data warehouse available through Access UNI provides essential data to support this decentralized decision-making.

4. In an effort to further enhance the maintenance and dissemination of value-added information for effective decision-making, the University has undertaken a multi-year process of implementing a new administrative system using Oracle Applications. Key applications included in this project, titled the MEMFIS Project (Modern Executive Management Financial Information System), include general ledger, accounts payable, purchasing, payroll, projects, grants and contracts, and human resources. Data stored and manipulated in MEMFIS will be a key element of this enhanced data warehouse, enhancing information available to support decision-makers throughout the University.

5. Individual faculty participation in decision-making processes begins at the departmental level, where processes such as curriculum development and promotion and tenure decisions originate. Faculty also contribute to budgetary decisions through shared governance in their department. Additionally, the Faculty Senate, an elected body of faculty representatives, participates in budget development and other decision-making processes, such as curriculum development and educational policy review. The Senate recently exercised leadership for the periodic review of presidential performance.

6. Planning for effective decision-making also extends to students and their academic planning. Through Access UNI, students and their advisors have continuous access to various tools for academic planning, the most important of which is the Program of Study (POS). The POS provides students with their degree audits online, supplying also major and minor requirements, information about the general education program, and other academic planning data. Students can also create hypothetical degree audits to think through a proposed program of study for any major and calculate hypothetical GPAs based on anticipated grades earned.

7. Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG), the student governance organization on campus, is actively involved in decision making and governance at UNI. Student leaders meet regularly with University administrators and participate in various budget and other decision-making processes. NISG recently utilized Access UNI's online database to conduct one of the first successful online student government elections in the country.

Introduction

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