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   from the issue of March 11, 2004

5 areas added to ‘Programs of Excellence’

Five programs have been added to UNL’s “Programs of Excellence,” bringing to 20 the number of programs identified for enhanced funding.

The newest additions to the list are Architectural Engineering and Construction, Digital Research in the Humanities, Law and Psychology, Visual Literacy and the Water Initiative.

These programs surfaced after a process involving pre-proposals, invited full proposals and review by the Academic Planning Committee. Former Senior Vice Chancellor Rick Edwards and Chancellor Harvey Perlman approved the programs’ selection.

David Brinkerhoff, interim senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, said that in 2000, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents launched a process to identify the highest priority academic programs on each of the university’s four campuses. Beginning in 2002, the Regents established Programs of Excellence Funding to build strength in these priority programs.

The idea, he said, was to provide continuous funding on an annual basis for academic programs of high priority. PoE grants are typically made for three to five years but can be renewed. If a successful program proposes hiring of tenure/tenure-leading faculty, funding is continuous, he said. Other items, such as equipment, graduate stipends or start-up funds, are made on an annual basis for the life of the grant.

“The idea is that there is continuing money to the campus, but it’s temporary to the program,” Brinkerhoff said. “In some instances, the funds are used to kick-start a program with the expectation that external funds will allow the program to become self-sustaining, in which case the PoE funding flows back into the program to fund other opportunities.”

Description of the newly funded programs:

• Architectural Engineering and Construction: A plan approved by the Regents and awaiting approval by the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education calls for bringing together existing programs in architectural engineering, construction systems and construction management into a School of Construction. This realigned unit will be positioned to more fully serve construction industry needs and collaborate on research projects.

• Digital Research in the Humanities: Forwarded by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Libraries, the project creates a Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. UNL holds a position of prominence in the field, with projects under way in the scholarly works of Walt Whitman, Willa Cather and digitizing the Journals of Lewis and Clark.

• Law and Psychology: UNL has a signature program in law and psychology, leading to a joint Ph.D./J.D. Funds would support visiting scholars who would come to UNL periodically to collaborate with UNL faculty on research in the discipline.

• Visual Literacy: A curriculum that grew out of the 1996 reallocation process, visual literacy is a single introductory curriculum for undergraduates in textile design, visual arts, interior design and architecture. The proposal further develops the curriculum beyond the introductory level and perhaps includes more students whose majors have a visual design component under its umbrella.

• Water Initiative: This is a major new collaborative initiative that cuts across several disciplines and colleges. UNL has many faculty with expertise in a number of issues surrounding water use, water quality, water quantity and water policy. The funding supports infrastructure, new hires, equipment, seminars and other purposes.



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