Inside Iowa State
Jan. 26, 1996
Iowa State anticipates NCA accreditation visit
by Linda Charles
When the team of evaluators from the North Central Association (NCA) arrives on campus in March, it will examine virtually every aspect of the university--academic programs, facilities, student services and research.
"This review is taking place in the context of greater competitiveness in higher education," said Provost John Kozak. "I expect the scrutiny to be detailed."
The accreditation team will be chaired by Jerry B. Poe, finance professor at Arizona State University and an experienced NCA evaluator. The team will consist of about 12 members in positions that could range from "library director to academic dean to dean of student services," said assistant provost Faye Whitaker, who is coordinating the preparation for the site visit. Most team members will have faculty status and many will be experienced administrators from large public universities.
All higher education institutions affiliated with a regional accrediting agency undergo the accreditation process every 10 years. To prepare, institutions must complete a self-study and provide evidence of institutional quality and integrity. Much of the self-study has been drawn from the recent strategic planning process that involved virtually all units on campus.
In gathering the information for the self-study, Whitaker found that Iowa State has responded to nearly all the recommendations made by the last accreditation team.
For example, 10 years ago, the team noted that the faculty needed greater input into the decision-making process. In response, the Faculty Senate was created. The Senate, a representative body of the faculty with governance powers, replaced the Faculty Council, which was an advisory board.
The 1986 team also pointed out that faculty salaries needed to be more competitive. In fiscal years 1988 through 1990, faculty salaries, as a whole, increased by more than 10 percent each year, to become competitive with salaries at peer institutions.
The team also noted a weakness in the university's fund- raising organization. In 1988, the university reorganized fund-raising efforts in the ISU Foundation and has since completed a successful $214 million capital campaign. Most recently, the Foundation has launched a $26 million scholarship campaign.
Also noted in 1986 was a lack of program evaluation and review. In 1990, Iowa State instituted routine academic program reviews which have, in recent years, been expanded to include all units. The NCA team also noted that difficulty enrolling in certain courses could delay some students' graduation. Last fall, the university instituted a guaranteed four-year graduation program for students willing to meet certain conditions.
Kozak said that this year's review is likely to result in additional suggestions.
"We look forward to the views of the team. It is always helpful to have the advice of a group of colleagues outside of the university," he said.
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