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State of the University Address, 2005

SEPTEMBER 9, 2005

Harvey Perlman, Chancellor

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

NCA Accreditation- Special Emphasis On Planning

The ten-year reaccreditation process from the North Central accreditation agency is close upon us. During the coming year we will need to complete a self-study and otherwise prepare for a site visit that will occur in November of 2006. I am pleased to report that we have reached an agreement with NCA that will permit us to conduct what is called a "special emphasis" accreditation—one that is available only to "mature already accredited institutions." Our special emphasis is to focus on our strategic planning process. The advantages of doing a special emphasis approach rather than a traditional accreditation approach include: (1) it places attention on what we are doing now to prepare for the future rather than a defense of what we have done in the past; (2) it places the visiting team more in the role of a consultant and less in the role of an evaluator; and (3) it enables us to place our energy on developing our strategic-planning process as we prepare our self-study. Our intention is to write a self-study that people will actually want to read and that will communicate to our constituents what we are about. To do this we will need the involvement from many people both to write our story and to strengthen our planning work. We are indebted to Jim O'Hanlon who agreed to lead our accreditation preparation effort and who has been instrumental in obtaining approval for this nontraditional approach.

Diversity

The submitted academic strategic plans also contain diversity plans. We are seeing a significant increase in students of color thanks in large measure to the hard work of our Admissions staff with cooperation of representatives in academic departments. But this increase will put increased pressure on us to diversify our faculty and staff and to assure an environment in which diverse ideas and perspectives are freely offered and thoughtfully considered. I believe we have made good progress with respect to women faculty although challenges remain. However, we continue to struggle to attract and to retain faculty of color. This is an issue that must be addressed and it can only be addressed at the departmental level where faculty are hired and faculty are retained. At the campus level we will be revising the diversity plan to account for the input we received from academic units and exploring how the funds we have directed toward diversity may be more effectively employed. In the end, however, there is nothing short of hard work and commitment at the unit level required to achieve success. I urge all of you to renew and redouble your efforts to find qualified faculty of color and where opportunities exist I hope you engage the rest of us to help take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself.

The Commission on the Status of Women has proposed a number of interesting ideas to make this campus more friendly to women and families including a new employment status - "active service, modified duties" --to account for family responsibilities. A task force has been appointed to consider the status and titles of faculty and will consider this idea as well. I am also pleased to announce that through the combined and sustained efforts of the Academic Senate, the Chancellor's Commission, a special child-care task force, and Vice Chancellor Chris Jackson the university is in a position to issue a Request for Proposals seeking bids from outside child care agencies to operate and manage a university child-care facility on campus. Private funds are available to remodel the north building of the Whittier complex for this purpose. If we receive acceptable bids, we should be offering on-campus child care by the Fall of 2007.