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The Mission of the University

"The University of Northern Iowa is a comprehensive institution committed to providing a diverse, dynamic learning environment, founded on a strong liberal arts curriculum and characterized by excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. The University focuses both on undergraduate education that emphasizes a personalized learning environment and on selected master's, doctoral and other graduate programs that provide students with specialized educational experiences. UNI programs incorporate scholarship and service to individuals, communities and organizations throughout the state, the nation and the world." (Approved by the Board of Regents, Nov. 2000)

The mission celebrates the core strengths of the University, proclaiming the value of excellence at the undergraduate level and celebrating a 124-year-old tradition of what we have come to call "Great Teaching." The University entered the 1990s amidst local, state and national recognition that quality teaching plays a central role in making a student's higher education experience a valuable, lifelong benefit. In the mid-1990s, the University made significant strides in expanding in the areas of experiential learning and technology. The University understands the importance of research to academic vitality and expects its graduate programs, though smaller in number, to be commensurate in quality with undergraduate offerings. In addition, UNI's down-to-earth, practical and people-oriented service approach has helped make a significant difference in the quality of the University's efforts to meet a growing demand for community, business, and educational services throughout the state.

The character of the University of Northern Iowa is embodied in seven values embraced by the University community and stated in the 2001-2006 Strategic Plan: (1) excellence in all its endeavors, (2) intellectual vitality, (3) intellectual and academic freedom, dialogue and the free exchange of ideas, (4) individualized learning (5) an ethical, caring and diverse community, (6) the well being of its students, faculty, and staff, and (7) service to the citizens of the State of Iowa, the nation, and the world.

As noted, commitment to undergraduate students distinguishes UNI among Regents institutions. All students are required to take an academic core curriculum in general education grounded in the liberal arts and sciences. Class sizes throughout the University generally are small (90 percent of classes have 50 or fewer students, and 56 percent have 25 or fewer students), thus encouraging a high level of faculty-student interaction (see Table I.1; Figure I.1). This level of interaction and personalized attention extends as well to the co-curricular areas, such as student services.

Table I.1: Percentage of Organized Class Sections By Size

The second distinctive feature of the University of Northern Iowa among the Regents' institutions is that UNI primarily serves the educational needs of Iowans. Approximately 93 percent of UNI's students are Iowa residents, representing all 99 counties in the state. Although recruitment efforts are being intensified to increase the number of out-of-state students in order to achieve greater ethnic diversity of the student body, the University plans to maintain an enrollment that will be composed largely of students from within the state.

Figure I.1: Percent of Organized Class Sections by Size

A third distinctive feature of the University of Northern Iowa is the balance its academic programs provide between liberal arts education and professional education. On the one hand, the University's general education program requirements, which are a part of every undergraduate major, provide the foundation needed for lifelong learning that is so critical in a world undergoing rapid change. It provides students with the skills to think critically, to reason quantitatively, to communicate effectively, and to synthesize new information and new patterns of thought. It instills in students an appreciation and understanding of the many cultures of the world; it introduces them to the rich heritage of major intellectual and aesthetic achievements of humankind and, in the process, prepares them to live and work in a truly multicultural and global society. In addition, many of the undergraduate and graduate programs now provide students with an array of experiential learning opportunities in the form of undergraduate and graduate research, internships, co-ops, field trips, and study-abroad programs in an effort to strengthen the connection between classroom learning and "real world" experiences.

In the College of Education, the teacher education program and the practitioner-oriented emphasis of the doctoral programs stress applied research and field-based experiences. In the College of Business Administration, the MBA program emphasizes the functional areas of business in order to provide graduates with a balance between theoretical knowledge and practical business operations. Also within the College of Business Administration, the Business and Community Services division provides consulting in areas such as marketing, planning, and economic development for communities throughout the state. In other areas at the University, such as the Industrial Technology doctoral program in the College of Natural Sciences, much of the research is of an applied nature, designed to meet technological needs of industry throughout the state. Also, the Recycling and Reuse Technology Transfer Center and the Metal Casting Center in the College of Natural Sciences promote applied research in solid waste reuse and recycling and metal casting technology, respectively, as well as industrial outreach for purposes of technology transfer.

The mission of the University specifies its commitment to teaching, scholarship and service. The faculty of the University of Northern Iowa are expected to have nine-credit hour teaching loads each semester and to maintain research/scholarly/creative/artistic pursuits. The University embraces the teacher/scholar model, in which teaching and research complement each other and the faculty member's enthusiasm for one activity is enhanced by the pursuit of the other.

As approved by the Regents, the University will not offer programs in agriculture, architecture, dentistry, engineering, forestry, hospital administration, law, medicine, pharmacy, or veterinary medicine. Iowa State University and the University of Iowa offer these programs.


Criteria I
Criteria II
Criteria III
Criteria IV
Criteria V
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