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   from the issue of January 6, 2005

3rd 'report card' highlights progress


In its third annual "report card," UNL met and exceeded several self-imposed goals on student diversity and quality and increased research funding. The report card is the third "Indicators of Institutional Quality Annual Report," which measures outcomes as proposed in UNL's guideline for improvement, "A 2020 Vision."

"We in the campus community can take great encouragement from the clear evidence of growing achievement," said Barbara Couture, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at UNL. "The record shows that UNL faculty members are reaching the goals of our A 2020 Vision and continue to pursue excellence at all levels."

The report can be reviewed online at

The Quality Indicators report card noted that two enrollment goals were achieved ahead of schedule in 2004. By fall 2003, the percentage of undergraduate students of color reached 7.6 percent, two years ahead of the 2005 goal. The UNL goal to have the average ACT score of incoming freshmen reach 24.7 by fall 2005 was realized in fall 2004, with incoming freshmen having an average ACT score of 24.8.

Among other outcomes assessed in the report:

• More students are completing their degrees within six years than ever before.

• The populations of undergraduate students and tenure-line faculty both have become more diverse. UNL undergraduates continue to win high-prestige, nationally competitive awards. And more individuals are taking advantage of non-residential (distance) educational programs.

• Federal research expenditures grew by 17 percent in fiscal year 2001-02 (the latest data available). Faculty also excelled in getting new awards of sponsored dollars for research and other activities. A total of $151.7 million in sponsored funds were awarded to UNL faculty in fiscal year 2003-04 for all activities from all sources. This total represents an increase of 9 percent over the previous year and a cumulative increase of 65 percent since fiscal year 2000.

"This document is the third annual report on institutional indicators of quality," Couture said. "We believe UNL is a premier research institution that is getting better year by year. The quality indicators, while they show there is much work still to do, document this progress. We invite comment, criticism, questions, and even praise."

Other highlights in the annual Quality Indicators report:

• The six-year graduation rate increased by more than 5 percent in 2003-04, the largest annual increase documented since 1996. In fall 1998, the gap between UNL and the average graduation rate of UNL peers was 14.7 percent; by fall 2003 this gap was reduced to 5.6 percent. The freshman-to-sophomore retention rate at UNL slipped slightly but remains over 80 percent.

• The number of students receiving nationally competitive awards has quadrupled, a gain that may be attributed in part to the appointment of a fellowship adviser in the Office of Undergraduate Studies.

• About one-third of all students reported participating in a meaningful research or creative activity in conjunction with a faculty member. This substantial proportion reflects the frequency of participation by undergraduates in professors' research and creative projects and underscores the importance of such programs as UCARE.

• The percent of UNL graduates who pass their professional licensure examinations was collected for the first time this year. UNL students outperformed the national average on 20 of 24 exams by as much as 6 percent to 49 percent.

• A gap persists between UNL and its peers in total Fulbright Scholarships and National Science Foundation Fellowships won by UNL graduate and professional students.

• Fewer international students are enrolling in graduate programs in the United States; declines at doctoral and research institutions have been particularly acute. This trend is affecting enrollment at UNL and will have an impact on the number of degrees granted in the future. The number of doctorates appears to be generally stable, and the number of master's degrees granted continues its upward trend.

• Federal research expenditures grew by 57 percent between FY00 through FY03, the latest data available. UNL has also been successful in expanding the total amount of sponsored dollars awarded, considering all sources.

• Of the $151.7 million in federal awards that UNL faculty received in FY04, 24 were projects of over $1 million, eight of which were more than $5 million. In addition, one project in the arts and humanities, where fewer opportunities for external funding exist, was awarded over $200,000 and eight received over $10,000 each.

• Participation in non-residential educational programs - both credit and non-credit - increased substantially in just a few years, from about 700 in 1998-99 to more than 3,100 in 2003-04.

• UNL made consistent progress in attracting and retaining a more diverse faculty to tenured and tenure-track positions. The percentage of faculty who are not white males has grown from 29.7 percent in fall 1996 to 35.4 percent in fall 2003, which reflects increases in both female faculty (23.1 to 26.0 percent) and faculty of color (8.6 to 14.0 percent). Since fall 1996, UNL has steadily increased the number of students of color; in 2003-04, 7.6 percent of UNL undergraduates identified themselves as students of color.

• UNL continues to draw more than 30 percent of students from the top 10 percent of Nebraska high school classes.



Students help with testing of deer
3rd 'report card' highlights progress