NCS Newsletter

January 13, 1999
An Aperiodic Update
Number 3

Looking Towards April 10-12, 2000

In Newsletter #2, I described the broad theme of our special emphasis self-study, the self-study plan, the subcommittees established by the plan, and the charges to the subcommittees. The subcommittees have been charged with developing concrete hypotheses for study consistent with the broad theme, which is the quality of student academic life in a public liberal arts college that is part of a large research university. In addition, the themes are to be ones that lend themselves to assessment and can be linked to planning and/or budget.
The subcommittees spent fall quarter identifying the concrete themes that they would assess. During winter and early spring quarter they will make their assessments. Whenever possible, but only if it produces insight into the quality of student academic life, they are to compare UMM to the COPLAC and Morris fourteen colleges, and to assess the impact on UMM of being part of a large research university. The reports on their findings will be reviewed by the Steering Committee in the spring quarter. Tom McRoberts will use the reports to write the self-study report required by the NCA. During fall semester, 1999, the Campus Assembly will review, critique and make recommendations for changes in the draft report.
On April 10-12, 2000, a team of evaluator-consultants will visit UMM. We are now in the process of making recommendations about the expertise required of team members. Naturally, that expertise follows from the concrete themes being assessed by the subcommittees. Almost everything that team members will know about us will come from the self-study report. Formally, the team's task is to make a recommendation to the NCA about reac-creditation. We have been assured that we don't have to worry about the outcome. What we are seeking from them beyond their recommendation for reaccreditation is their assessment of the quality of student academic life, and how we might improve it.

A Definition. For purposes of the self-study, the phrase student academic life "means a core of curricular and co-curricular work, which is defined to be credit-earning and non-credit-earning pedagogy, e.g., non-credit student research."1

Five Hypotheses of the Resources Subcommittee. I want to apprise you of the concrete issues being addressed by the NCA subcommittees, which will form the core the self-study report. The space remaining in this newsletter permits me to address the work of only one, and I choose to begin with Subcommittee III, Resources for Maintaining and Improving the Quality of Student Academic Life. The charge to this committee is in Newsletter #2. This subcommittee has framed the issues to be assessed as hypotheses, as have the other subcommittees:
Comments. 1) No factor is as important for the quality of student academic life as the quality of faculty and staff. Hence, faculty and staff issues must be a center-piece of the self-study. You will notice that all five hypotheses are framed in a positive way. Let me focus, for example, on just one aspect of this hypothesis: UMM effectively recruits faculty and staff. The positive phasing is not a pre-judgment. We certainly devote a tremendous amount of energy to recruiting top-notch faculty and staff, but we are all aware, for example, of searches that have been abandoned. The subcommittee's task is to assess how successful our recruiting has been, and to make recommendations for improving it. 2) Although phrased in a positive way, I detect a wide-spread belief on campus that our visibility is poor, and that, compared with other liberal arts colleges of our size and aspirations, there are fewer outside funding sources to which we can apply and a smaller cadre of alumni donors to which we can appeal. 3) The resource here is not only the obvious financial one. The U of M is rich in people and programs. Being part of the larger university has, for example, enhanced our study abroad program, but are our students benefiting as much as they could from this resource? What are the facts? What should be the reality? 4) This is one aspect of recruitment and retention, which are both crucial issues that are being addressed in other subcommittees. I'll say more later about this aspect of our self-study. 5) We have a beautiful campus. Is it sometimes a somewhat ragged beauty? And what about classrooms? How many are drab, lack technological aids, have poor acoustics or little temperature-control? How do all of these affect recruiting and the quality of student life?

Open forum. Questions about any aspect of the NCA self-study can be addressed to me at or posted to the minutes listserve ( These newsletters can be accessed at the UMM web-site: ( NCA/).

Jim Togeas
NCA Coordinator

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

Copyright 1999 University of Minnesota, Morris
Last Modified Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Page URL:

Please e-mail questions or comments to: