MAILED: May 22, 2000
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has greatly enhanced technology-related programs and facilities and more than doubled its minority enrollment in the past decade, but as a public institution a number of funding issues need to be addressed, according to an independent review of the university.
The review from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools says the university offers students a distinctive undergraduate experience, which includes broad opportunities for student/faculty collaboration, international experiences, service learning and internships.
The NCA review team, which visited the campus last fall as part of UW-Eau Claire's reaccreditation process, said the university has addressed previously identified concerns and praised the university's commitment to excellence, its extensive student services and wide spread student involvement in decision-making in its final report.
Especially noteworthy, the report says, is the support provided by the Student Senate, which approved an additional differential tuition fee amounting to almost $1 million annually to fund collaborative faculty/student research projects and other special elements of the baccalaureate degree.
"Contributing to the financial base operations of the university is a rather novel and exemplary student-imposed fee," the report states. "The NCA team salutes the students of UW-EC for this noteworthy initiative."
In addition, the review team praises the university's academic program review process and the broad-based community support among alumni and friends as strengths. It notes that private financial support for the university has grown and is a strong base for the planned fund-raising campaign.
Among challenges, the team notes, is the negative impact the decline in state financial support over the past decade has had on faculty salaries, faculty recruitment, library staffing and the development of new initiatives.
The university also needs to address the funding base and organizational structure for graduate programs and the lack of centralized coordination for outreach programming, and a plan for providing services to nontraditional students needs to be developed. The team urged the university to take advantage of position openings, especially at the administrative levels, to address the matter of improving diversity among the faculty and staff.
Chancellor Donald Mash says the team's report is helpful and is serving as an important document for strategic planning.
"The evaluation team's report is useful as we reflect on and review the current state of the university," Mash said. "It is one of the tools we will use to move this exemplary university to the next level of excellence.
"We are pleased with the team's observation that UW-Eau Claire provides students with a distinctive undergraduate experience and that the university's technology and research support are models for regional public universities," Mash said. "At the same time, we're already moving forward with plans that address concerns related to serving older and part-time students."
A Continuing Education Center, which will house part of UW-Eau Claire's newly merged Continuing Education unit, will open later this summer on Water Street, adjacent to the campus. The one-stop center will provide easier access to citizens and businesses that want to enhance learning through university classes, courses, programs and services. Steven Tallant, who was named as one of two associate vice chancellors earlier this month, will supervise continuing education and serve as director of graduate programs. Also the university has increased the hours of the adult opportunity adviser to better meet the special needs of the growing number of nontraditional students returning to college.
The site review team recommends that NCA extend UW-Eau Claire's accreditation at the master's degree-granting level for the full 10-year period to 2010.
Joan Myers, co-chair of the NCA Steering Committee on campus, said the reaccreditation by NCA is a compliment to everyone who is a part of UW-Eau Claire. "It is an endorsement testifying that what happened here during the past 10 years can serve as a model for other institutions. And it signifies that there is every reason to assume that the future will be as splendid."
FACTS ABOUT THE NCA REPORT
The site visit is a requirement for reaccreditation, which occurs every 10 years. UW-Eau Claire was first accredited in 1950. The last comprehensive visit was in 1989.
- The document upon which the review team based its review was the university's self-study, which is part of the reaccreditation process. To review the self study, visit: www.uwec.edu/nca/index.htm
- The final report is based on the visit to UW-Eau Claire Sept. 27-29, 1999, by the evaluation team from the commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
- The report states that UW-Eau Claire has met the general institutional requirements and the five criteria for accreditation. It outlines strengths, challenges and the team's advice and suggestions for institutional improvement.
- The evaluation team consisted of eight faculty members and administrators from regional public institutions in the Midwest and elsewhere.
- Susan T. Rydell, Dean, First College, Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, Minn., chaired the review team and led the site visit.
- Team members met with administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, community internship supervisors and community partners for service learning.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: May 22, 2000