CONTACT: STEVE PARROTT
5 Old Capitol
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-0557; fax (319) 335-0558
North Central Association approves reaccreditation for UI, cites
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa has been fully reaccredited
by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), one of
six regional accrediting associations in the United States for institutions
of higher learning. A 12-member NCA evaluation team, composed of faculty
members and administrators from universities in eight states, concluded
that the UI "has made significant progress" since its last NCA
evaluation in 1987.
In addition to the traditional evaluation for reaccreditation, the UI
also asked the NCA to conduct a special emphasis consultation to examine
the challenges related to the use of information and communications technology
in teaching and learning. That consultative report includes a number of
recommendations, but concludes, "the UI has been actively pursuing
innovative and effective projects and programs to incorporate information
technology into its academic programs. Many of these programs can be viewed
as model for other universities to emulate."
The reaccreditation decision is the culmination of a two-year process
that included a self-study involving UI faculty, staff and students. The
final step in the process was a three-day campus visit by an NCA evaluation
team, which took place Feb. 23-25, 1998.
The reaccreditation recommendation was approved without qualification,
which means that no progress, monitoring or contingency reports will be
required until the UI's next comprehensive evaluation, which is scheduled
The report cited 14 areas of strength, including "a strong and
supportive relationship with the citizens of Iowa," and a "commitment
to quality, dedication, vision and planning by the [State] Board of Regents."
It also cites faculty, staff and students who are "talented, productive
and enthusiastic about the role the institution plays in their lives and
the opportunities it provides."
The evaluation team noted that most UI classes are taught by full-time
faculty "who care about the education of their students," and
declared that the quality of service available to students through the
Office of the Vice President for Student Services is a "notable strength."
In addition, the team praised the UI Foundation for working effectively
with the UI "to raise the private funding essential to the maintenance
and continued improvement in the excellence of the institution."
The report also notes six areas of concern, including a backlog of building
repairs and renovation projects, questions about the UI's ability to retain
its top faculty members who may be offered opportunities at other universities,
and the necessity for improvements to UI Libraries. The evaluation team
also suggested that the UI pay "significant attention to the personnel
and maintenance funding requirements" that will accompany the expanding
use of computer technology.
The consultant team that was invited to examine the UI's use of information
technology offered several suggestions but noted that the "UI is moving
in the right direction." The consultants suggested that the UI streamline
campus governance of information technology, complete the campus fiber-optic
wiring project, and thoroughly assess the issue of computer connectivity
for students in residence halls and off campus.
"I am very pleased that the North Central Association's evaluators
have recognized the significant progress the University of Iowa has made
over the past 10 years," said UI President Mary Sue Coleman. "That
progress is a tribute to our faculty, staff, students.
"It is especially gratifying to hear that the NCA evaluation team
felt our arrangements to facilitate their work were outstanding,"
she added. "Provost Jon Whitmore and his staff can take great pride
in knowing that the evaluation team spoke so highly of them.
"We have some real successes that are worth celebrating, but we
must acknowledge that this report also gives us a useful assessment of
those areas where improvement is needed," Coleman added. "We
will work diligently to address all of those issues."
"It is important to remember that we used a new mechanism offered
by the NCA by which a group of consultants advised us on the application
of information technology to teaching and learning," said Christopher
Squier, professor and associate dean in the College of Dentistry and chair
of the UI self-study committee. The special emphasis consultation is offered
only to NCA institutions in good standing, he noted.
"Information technology in the learning environment is an area
with which almost every educational institution is struggling," Squier
said. "It is useful to be reminded of this and to know that we are
headed in the right direction."
In making reaccreditation decisions, NCA evaluation teams use five basic
* Clear and publicly stated purposes consistent with the university's mission
and approach to an institution of higher education
* Effective organization of the human, financial, and physical resources
necessary to accomplish its purposes
* Evidence that the university is accomplishing its educational and other
* Evidence that the university can continue to accomplish its purposes
and strengthen its educational effectiveness
* Demonstrated integrity in its practices and relationships
For the special emphasis on information technology, the NCA consultants
reviewed the UI self-study and interviewed President Coleman, vice presidents,
three members of the Board of Regents, the director and associate director
of Information Technology Services, deans and associate deans, and heads
and staff of the UI Library. The consultants also held open meetings in
which they talked with assorted faculty, staff and students.
The complete evaluation report and special emphasis consultative report
are available on the UI's web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~nca/.