search articles: 

   from the issue of October 27, 2005

UNL begins new tack in accreditation


University officials are charting a new direction as UNL begins the reaccreditation process with the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Due in August 2006, a self-study conducted by a steering committee and eight task forces formed by UNL representatives will be customized with a special emphasis on UNL's strategic planning.

UNL has been accredited with North Central since 1913. The accreditation process is aimed at assuring the public of the quality of an institution, while allowing for self-improvement of that institution.

In each of the previous self-studies, UNL - like the majority of peer institutions in the 19-state North Central region - has focused on campus endeavors in the 10 years leading up to the study.

James O'Hanlon, a professor in the College of Education and Human Sciences and coordinator of the current reaccreditation process, said that type of self-examination left unsatisfactory feelings when completed in 1997.

"The last time we did a self-study, we all thought, 'Oh, thank goodness it is over,'" said O'Hanlon, who previously served on a reaccreditation task force. "Everything about it was about the past, all after the fact. There were no ideas to help direct our future.

"This time, we want to produce a document that you may actually want to read."

This time, UNL is opting to pursue a "special emphasis" self study.

O'Hanlon said the special emphasis option - which has only been used by five of the 1,296 schools serviced by North Central - is reserved for "mature" institutions with a long history of accreditation. The option allows those that qualify to select an issue, topic or direction that serves as the centerpiece to the study and accreditation visit by officials from North Central.

O'Hanlon also said the emphasis allows the university to create a document that can be used beyond the scope of the reaccreditation process.

"Our emphasis on strategic planning allows us to put in more on what we are planning to do in the years ahead," O'Hanlon said. "We will be looking at our self, showing, 'here are the things we are doing that are great, here's what we are doing that is not so great and here's what the future holds.'

"This will be a true self-study that will help the university move in a direction of improvement."

A steering committee and eight task forces compile the self-study with input from faculty, staff and students helping to shape the final document.

The self-study is broken down into eight areas represented by the task forces. Those areas are mission, planning, teaching, research, outreach, assessment, progress since 1997 and diversity.

"Each chapter will include issues coming down the pike in three to five years that we need to be attentive to," O'Hanlon said.

The committee plans to write a relatively short document (around 200 pages) that offers personal stories of what UNL is about.

"We want to use real-life examples to illustrate the points we make about the university," O'Hanlon said. "If we don't focus on what our faculty, staff and students are doing, then we're really not telling what this place is about."

Information gathered by the task forces and steering committee will be made available online in the spring for feedback from faculty, staff and students. The report must be submitted to North Central in August 2006, with the accreditation team coming to UNL Nov. 6-8, 2006. O'Hanlon said forums and other informational sessions will be held next fall to prepare the campus for the visit. He said those events would focus on presenting information in the study.

The study will examine all areas of campus as a whole, not as individual colleges or schools. When complete it will include an executive summary and a video presentation.

"The goal, like Harvey (Perlman, UNL Chancellor) said in the State of the University address, is to have some positive results in doing this," O'Hanlon said. "And, I think we are on track to accomplish that."

Task Forces

Mission - Herb Howe, Chancellor's Office; Evelyn Jacobson, Academic Affairs; Steve Waller, IANR.

Planning - Alan Cerveny, Admissions; Susan Fritz, IANR; Kent Hendrickson, Information Services; Christine Jackson, Business and Finance; Jeff Keown, Academic Planning; Cynthia Milligan, CBA; Ron Roeber, Academic Affairs; Bill Nunez, Institutional Research and Planning.

Teaching - Patrice Berger, Honors Program; Susan Fritz, IANR; Jessica Jonson, Undergraduate Studies and Assessment; Rita Kean, Undergraduate Studies; David Keck, JD Edwards; Marjorie Kostelnik, Education and Human Sciences; Will Norton, Journalism and Mass Communications; David Wilson, Academic Affairs.

Research - David Allen, Engineering and Technology; Joan Giesecke, Libraries; Chuck Hibberd, Panhandle Research and Extension; Richard Hoffmann, Arts and Sciences; Pat McBride, Admissions; Ellen Weissinger, Graduate Studies; Mike Zeleny, Research.

Outreach - Arnold Bateman, Extended Education and Outreach; Rod Bates, University Television; Elbert Dickey, Cooperative Extension; Wayne Drummond, Architecture; Jack Oliva, Fine and Performing Arts; Ed Paquette, Alumni Association; Michelle Waite, Chancellor's Office.

Assessment - Peter Bleed, Arts and Sciences; Susan Fritz, IANR; Jessica Jonson, Undergraduate Studies and Assessment; Jim Walter, Education and Human Sciences.

Progress since 1997 - Richard Edwards, CBA; Herb Howe, Chancellor's Office; Evelyn Jacobson, Academic Affairs; Alan Moeller, IANR.

Diversity - Linda Crump, Equity, Access and Diversity; Bruce Currin, Human Resources; Gina Matkin, Nebraska Unions; Marilyn Schnepf, IANR.



Coliseum serves lunch hour tradition
Energy savings plan put into motion on campus
UNL begins new tack in accreditation
War, ethics philosopher presents Kripke lecture
Abel-Sandoz duo marks 40 years helping students
Gilded bacteria used in bioelectronic device
Math Day to attract students from across the Cornhusker state
Probe into superhero physics draws over 100