UNI-NCA Visiting Team Report Evaluative Comments
Page references are to the 1991 NCA Visiting Team Report.
Under the auspices of the UNI Office of Compliance and Equity Management,
the institution has developed and maintains policies and procedures on
Established in January 1995, the Office of Disability Services is dedicated
to serving the special needs of students and employees at the University
of Northern Iowa. The Office of Disability Services works with students
and employees to ensure that all persons with disabilities have access
to University activities, programs, and services. Specialized services
are provided to enhance the overall academic, career, and personal development
of persons with a physical, psychiatric, or learning disability (see web
site for UNI Office of Disability Services at http://www.uni.edu/disability/).
Table 2: Communication Studies Majors and Theatre Majors (1995-2000)
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 8
College of Humanities and Fine Arts (p.25)
It appears that a formal equipment replacement program and an earlier distribution of equipment funds could enhance the effectiveness of the departments.
The problem of equipment replacement has been met well in the past three years via decentralized budgeting, which has allowed an increased ability for the college to provide year-end funding for equipment, as well by the Life-Cycle Equipment matching program of the Provost. Additionally, the Supplies and Services budgets for departments in CHFA have been adjusted to provide better equity among them.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 9
College of Natural Sciences (p.25)
There is a critical lack of contemporary equipment and instrumentation, which is essential for modern teaching laboratories, as well as for faculty and student research. This is demonstrated most conspicuously in industrial technology where equipment was reported to have come from industry gifts and grants.
The increased expenditures for equipment within the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) have addressed some of the concerns regarding contemporary equipment and instrumentation (see also response to EVALUATIVE COMMENT 2). Also related to this is the purchase of computers for science laboratories from the Student Computer Fee allocations. A recently received $1,000,000 gift from the Carver Trust will equip the Departments of Biology and Chemistry in the yet-to-be-constructed $16.9-million McCollum Science Hall Addition. Finally, the Department of Computer Science has received equipment for a real-time, embedded software laboratory and for artificial intelligence from two corporations, Rockwell-Collins and Maytag.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 10
College of Natural Sciences (p.27)
Graduate programs in the college do not appear to be strong based on minimal enrollments and little faculty research. Changes recommended by the Task Force on Graduate Programs including program review may be helpful in addressing this problem.
The total enrollment in CNS graduate programs grew from 71 in 1990-1991 to 120 in 1999-2000.
However, there are still minimal enrollments in a number of graduate programs in the College of Natural Sciences. This is unlikely to be corrected until the size of the graduate assistant stipend can be increased dramatically, as the competition for graduate students in the sciences is intense. For example, the Environmental Science program, which offers assistantships of $12,480 rather than the campus standard of $6,240, has been able to maintain a program of respectable size. Another successful program has been the innovative Masters degree in Middle Grades Mathematics (4-8); its success has depended in part on foundation funding for stipends for the enrolled teachers.
Four graduate programs that appeared in the 1990-1992 catalog have been closed. These are the graduate programs in Earth Science, Industrial Technology Education, Physics Education, and Science.
The expectations for research are clear and are being met, keeping in mind the mission of the University and the teaching loads that are high relative to those of research institutions.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 11
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (p. 28)
There are some exceptions, such as the crowding of office space in the Political Science Department.
Since 1991 the facilities in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (CSBS) have changed significantly. In 1993 the Department of History moved to a newly renovated and spacious location in Seerley Hall. This permitted the relocation of Political Science offices to the third floor of Sabin Hall. During the summer of 1999 these offices were refurbished. There are additional plans to increase space for the department in the near future. With the move of History to Seerley, college departments are now located in four buildings
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 12
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (p. 28)
The administration is quite competent. While the head of the Psychology Department has been in charge of the unit for 18 years, all other department heads have begun their administrative services within the past five years. The most recent appointment (1990) is the dean of the college.
There have been new department heads in three college departments since 1991, and a search is currently being conducted for a head in one additional department. The History department head has the longest tenure in the college -- 12 years. As in 1991 the most recent appointment is the dean of the college, Dr. Julia Wallace, head of the psychology department who was selected following a national search. The dean appointed in 1990 now serves as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 13
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (p. 28-29)
Department heads often spoke of the need to respond to increased enrollments with a conversion of several of their temporary faculty to tenure-track appointments.
Following the NCA review, several temporary lines were converted to tenure-track and searches conducted. The concerns of the department heads for new tenure-track faculty has been partially relieved by the addition of 19 new faculty lines since 1991, an increase of 20 percent. In addition, supplies and services dollars in departments have increased by 78 percent during the same period. For the last four years, CSBS has supplemented departmental supplies and services by providing an additional $300 per full-time faculty member in the college. These funds are at the individual's discretion and are primarily used for travel. Finally, with a new central administration, a more decentralized budget has been institutionalized. This has meant that salary savings, which have remained in the College, are a major contribution to the increase in faculty lines.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 14
Graduate College (p. 30)
Faculty express concerns about the standards for membership on the graduate faculty which now provide for approval for virtually anyone with a terminal degree. This should be re-examined to include only those with significant involvement in graduate education. Concerns are also expressed that there are insufficient graduate assistantships available and the stipends are too low to be competitive. Concerns were expressed about the sparsity of faculty research and resultant weakness of student theses and dissertations. This was confirmed by numerous faculty comments and by review of these in the Library.
Requirements for membership on the graduate faculty have not changed. Membership on the graduate faculty is determined by the Graduate Faculty Constitution. The Graduate Faculty have voted against proposed changes in these requirements three times since 1989.
The number of graduate assistantships has increased from 132 in 1991 to 167.5 in 2000. However, the number of graduate assistantships has not increased since 1995. Stipends for masters students have been increased from $5,800 in Fall of 1991 to $6,000 in Fall 1992 and did not increase to the current amount of $6,240 until Fall 2000. As of Fall 2000, graduate stipend increases are now tied to other University staff salary increases.
Faculty hires over the past nine years have resulted in stronger research programs and a fourfold increase in the amount of external funding. Federal and state funding has increased from $4,286,672 in 1990-2001 to $18,149,086 in 1999-2000 (see table in Criterion III on Sponsored Project Proposals and Awards as Reported to the Board of Regents.) Eighty percent of proposals were funded in 1999-2000.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 15
Graduate College (p. 31)
The doctoral programs are marginal and need a greater commitment by the institution to retain viability.
Many graduate programs and courses have low enrollments and should be reviewed. A "critical mass" is needed for most quality graduate programs.
It was unclear how oversight is divided between the academic department, Graduate Dean, and the Dean of Continuing Education and Special Programs. This needs to be clearly defined and these programs monitored closely by the Graduate College and the academic departments.
The review of graduate programs recommended by the Task Force on Graduate Programs in 1990 was implemented. Three masters programs (English, Communication Studies, and Communicative Disorders) were selected for enhancement and received substantial increases in the number of assistantships and support for faculty travel and research over a five-year period. Five programs with consistently low enrollment have been closed. Three new interdisciplinary masters programs have been introduced since 1991: Public Policy, Environmental Science, and Women's Studies. A Masters of Social Work program was recently approved and funded. Also, a Masters degree in Accounting was approved (March 2000).
Faculty hires in both the Doctor of Industrial Technology (DIT) program and in the College of Education also have resulted in a stronger research emphasis, a substantial increase in external funding, and an improvement in the quality of doctoral dissertations.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 16
Office of Continuing Ed & Special Programs (p. 34)
Concerns are as follows. The need to use regular faculty in locations that are a considerable distance from the main campus could be a serious problem. With a steady enrollment growth in many areas, as well as a commitment to a nine-hour teaching load will invariably lead to larger classes. Pressures to teach off campus may contribute to a lessening of the quality of offerings on campus as well as a resentment by an aging faculty cohort who no longer feel the need for the extra income generated by teaching off campus, as well as the inconvenience. There is no formally adopted policy requiring a systematic evaluation of off-campus offerings.
With the availability of the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) beginning in Fall 1993, there has been little need for UNI professors to travel great distances to teach students around the state. The ICN is a live, two-way audio and video fiber-optic system that allows faculty to teach students on-campus at the same time that students are taking the course at several remote sites. Most of the ICN teaching is done as part of the faculty member's regular teaching load; consequently, overload teaching makes up a much lower percentage of distance education teaching than it did prior to 1993.
Even with remote sites, the class size is not allowed to exceed the maximums set by the department/faculty member. Since most of UNI's off-campus programs are graduate programs, the on-campus sections are quite small; adding off-campus students via interactive television does not make them too large, but rather allows them to become numerically viable.
Off-campus courses and programs are typically taught by regular tenured or tenure-track faculty using the same curriculum as on campus. The UNI's library services are available to distance students via electronic communication, and many professors use WebCT to evaluate their course and instruction.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 17
Women's Studies (p. 35)
The Women's Studies Program seems to have a low profile.
The Women's Studies Program has made tremendous strides in the last decade and now holds a position of respect and visibility on the UNI campus.
In the 1991 NCA Report, the reviewers commented that the Women's Studies Program seemed to have a low profile and that the program was being revitalized as new women faculty were hired. Additionally, the reviewers suggested the Ethnic Minorities Cultural and Educational Center and the Women's Studies Program begin some common programming.
The reviewers were correct in their prediction that the Women's Studies Program was being revitalized. Since 1990, the Women's Studies Program has made some far-reaching changes as well as more moderate adjustments that have directly increased the profile and visibility of the program on and off campus.
The Women's Studies Program now consists of two main units, the undergraduate and graduate programs. The Undergraduate Program offers an undergraduate minor and a broad array of curricular and co-curricular programming that serve the needs of diverse constituencies: students, faculty, staff, and the wider community. It now has two administrative offices. The Graduate Program offers a Master of Arts degree in Women's Studies. With the exception of the CROW (Current Research on Women) forums, the Graduate Program focuses exclusively on the M.A. degree program and does not exercise a broader curricular and co-curricular mission. The Graduate Program has six graduate assistantships and two graduate student offices. The units share a half-time secretary.
The visibility of Women's Studies has been markedly increased through programming organized through the undergraduate office, particularly during Women's History Month. Readers are referred to the Annual Reports as documentation of increasing levels of programming over the course of the past 10 years. In addition to internal funding from many departments and colleges on campus, the faculty have worked with other Iowa colleges and universities in utilizing Stanley Foundation funding to bring international women scholars and activists to campus.
Most recently the undergraduate office has been extremely successful in bringing together staff, students, and faculty from diverse sectors of the University to work on collaborative projects that have resulted in statewide exposure. Our campus violence prevention project, with funding from the Justice Department at the level of $500,000, includes participants from high-visibility areas on campus such as the Athletic Department, Department of Residence, and Public Safety. As a part of this project, we trained violence prevention mentors from all three Regent universities and helped to plan the first statewide men's conference focused upon decreasing violence against women. We received extremely good television, newspaper, and radio coverage on this grant. As a result we have increased visibility within the student population, community, and state at this time.
The M.A. in Women's Studies was instituted at UNI during the 1994-1995 academic year. The goals and objectives of the Graduate Program in Women's Studies complement those of the undergraduate program. However, the Graduate Program has a distinct objective: to assist students in developing skills that will enable them to make original contributions to feminist scholarship. The M.A. in Women's Studies serves the interests of three groups of students: 1) students for whom it is preparation for a PhD program; 2) students for whom it enhances a career in the private, public, or nonprofit sectors; and 3) students for whom it satisfies strong intellectual interests and curiosity. The program is academically rigorous (see University catalog for program description) and develops leaders who make a difference in their communities and chosen professions. All but one of our 17 alumni are employed in their area of expertise, and each establishes a strong reputation for the M.A. in Women's Studies. (See Women's Studies website (http://www.uni.edu/womenstudies/) for information about placement of graduates.)
Additionally, the Graduate Program contributes to the increase in profile and visibility of the Women's Studies Program by contributing to the missions of two colleges (CHFA and CSBS) and the University with its emphasis on original research. The CROW forum series gives faculty an opportunity to spotlight and receive feedback on research in process. The purpose of this monthly series is to enhance interdisciplinary and campus-wide conversations about research on gender. There are approximately 43 core affiliate faculty members of the Women's Studies graduate program. Awarding graduate assistants to help faculty with research also enhances faculty productivity and increases faculty visibility. In these ways, the program furthers strategic planning goals, namely the commitment to intellectual vitality and the creation and nurture of a diverse community by fostering a critical examination of ideas, nurturing creativity and scholarship, encouraging reflection and cultivating the free exchange of ideas within a community that includes those traditionally disenfranchised by virtue of ethnicity, socioeconomic background, gender, disability, or sexual orientation. Faculty research and faculty visibility have contributed to the increase in the profile of the Women's Studies Program.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 18
General Education (p. 35)
The general education program was revised in 1986 to provide a broadly-based 47-hour set of requirements including a course in non-Western culture and a capstone course, as well as the skills of writing and oral communication. Because of the lack of resources, the entire set of requirements is not yet in place. The communication requirement has been deferred, but is expected to be in place in Fall 1991. The capstone course has apparently been implemented only in mathematics. There is a backlog for other required courses.
The resource needs are most evident in English and Communication.
The Oral Communication requirement for General Education, deferred until the fall of 1991, is now in place and functioning well. New lines were created for that department following the 1991 NCA review specifically to meet the increased course demands of this General Education requirement.
Comments related to a capstone course in mathematics were addressed in the institutional response to the NCA evaluation team report (see June 17, 1991, Correction of Errors of Fact, p.3, item 22). There is no such course in the Department of Mathematics. The Capstone course of the General Education program is Environment, Technology, and Society, a two-credit course required of every first-degree undergraduate student seeking a bachelor's degree. This course demonstrates relationships among science, technology, society, and the natural environment.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 19
Library (p. 37)
More than 85% of the holdings are now searchable using the system which is called UNISTAR. Unfortunately, UNI has chosen the Innovative Interface library system while the University of Iowa and Iowa State University have both chosen NOTIS. This makes linking of and access to all three collections by students, from one terminal, highly unlikely.
The library facility, while attractive and well-organized, is nearly out of space. While the state first approved then delayed funding for the addition of a fourth floor, the university expects to receive the funding and the library addition remains the first priority.
Innovative Interfaces was selected as the most appropriate system for UNI. UNI continues to use the Innovative Interfaces integrated library system; the other two Regents institutions have migrated to different systems from those in place at the time of the 1991 report. Three different integrated systems are now being used at the three Regents institutions. The Innovative Interfaces system has had almost yearly software updates, to provide current technology and updated options to the faculty, staff and students of UNI. With the advent of web-based catalogs, there is less concern and less need for easy connectivity and common sets of command languages for searching.
Space concerns have been alleviated by adding mobile compact shelving space for an additional 100,000 volumes and by constructing an entire fourth floor.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 20
Educational and Student Services / Ethnic Minority Cultural and Educational Center (p. 39)
Some additional funding may be necessary for the [Center for Multicultural Education, formerly the] Ethnic Minorities Cultural and Educational Center to increase programming
Since 1991 the Educational and Student Services Division has upgraded the position of Coordinator of the Ethnic Minorities Cultural and Educational Center to Director of the Center for Multicultural Education, added a second full-time merit position, and created a permanent programming budget, currently $24,000. An additional $35,000 is also available for diversity programming in a special account established by the Cabinet. Plans are also underway to construct a new addition to the Maucker Union to house the Center for Multicultural Education.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 21
Educational and Student Services / Maucker Union (p. 41)
With increased enrollment, the union is scheduled to near capacity.
Planning has begun for a $13-million remodeling project for the student union that will also incorporate relocation and construction of a new Center for Multicultural Education. An architect has been selected. This project will greatly enhance space usage in the current building and increase square footage available.
EVALUATIVE COMMENT 22
Educational and Student Services / Residence Services (p. 39)
Enrollment growth has placed a strain on residence services.
Construction of a new multi-suite residence hall for upperclass students was completed in 1994 at a cost of $9.3-million. The Residence on the Hill (ROTH) complex provides housing for 384 students.
Last Modified: 03/27/08