CRITERION III: Accomplishments

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F. Ongoing support for professional development for faculty, staff, and administrators

A university of quality recognizes that its primary assets are human resources‹its faculty, its staff, and its administrators. The recruitment and hiring process surely is an important aspect of attracting quality personnel to lead, manage, teach, research, serve, and support in the University's programs. But, like all organizational assets, human resources also must be prepared, developed, and renewed. Professional development, on an ongoing basis, is essential for both individual and institutional effectiveness. To what extent, and how well, does UNI provide ongoing support for the professional development of its faculty, staff, and administrators?

The University encourages and supports the continuous engagement of its faculty and staff in professional development activities relevant to their disciplines and areas of expertise. For these activities, several different types of direct and indirect support structures exist, with variations across departments and offices. In addition to departmental support, the Provost's Office provided, for example, in 2000-2001: (a) Academic and Curricular Planning Mini-grants ($108,000), (b) Faculty Research Grants ($330,021), (c) Professional Development Leave replacement ($166,446), and (d) support for the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching ($241,827).

The Center for the Enhancement of Teaching serves all faculty in the University by providing programs and services to maintain and enhance the quality of teaching. Approximately one-half of the UNI tenured and tenure-track faculty have participated annually in one or more of the Center's activities for each of the past seven years. In addition to the QEP project discussed in IIIB, some of the Center's activities have included:

1. New faculty orientation and mentoring, including all new tenure-track faculty and faculty colleagues who serve as mentors

2. Individual consultations using classroom observations, in-class interviews, student evaluation of teaching instruments, self-evaluations, and other tools to collect and use data for faculty reflection, inquiry, and action leading to improved instruction

3. Workshops, seminars, and institutes that actively engage faculty in their own continuing professional development

4. An annual conference that brings faculty together with staff, administrators, and students to explore a topic or theme of importance to quality of the University as a whole

5. A website, professional newsletters, journals, books, and other materials that serve as resources for enhancing the understanding and practice of effective teaching and learning throughout the University

6. Research and professional involvement beyond the University aimed at broadening and deepening the understanding of faculty development and its impact on the quality of university teaching and learning

A comprehensive review of the Center's development and impact at UNI is found in "An Assessment of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching: History, Current Issues, and Future Directions" (November, 1999).

Faculty receive some financial support for the publication cost of research results in refereed journals. They can request a reduced teaching load in a given semester in order to pursue scholarly and creative work. A Summer Fellowship Program provides either four- or eight-week periods of support for scholarly activity. Faculty who also serve in administrative roles are eligible for these programs. Support staff may also receive development funds under certain circumstances.

The Graduate College has funded a professional development program for faculty for nearly 30 years. Under this program, which is defined in the Master Agreement, full-time, tenured faculty may apply for a Professional Development Leave (PDL). Through these awards, the University encourages, assists, and supports faculty research and creative activities. Recipients devote full time to the proposed project and may not accept additional responsibilities or employment during the PDL period.

The Professional Development Leave provides a maximum stipend, including appropriate fringe benefits, of full salary for one semester or one-half salary for the academic year. Recipients must prepare a written report describing the research/creative activities/degree work undertaken during the Assignment period. They are also strongly encouraged to submit their findings for publication, to present them at a professional meeting, or to exhibit the results of their creative activity. A recipient of a Professional Development Leave is ineligible for a subsequent leave during the three years following an award.

Maintenance and development of high-quality faculty continues to be a top priority for the University. Strategic objectives in the 2001-2006 Strategic Plan support creative and intellectually rigorous teaching and scholarship. Specifically, Objectives 2.1 and 2.2 seek increased opportunities for faculty to enhance the quality of their teaching, their research and their creative activity.

Professional development is also important in the Division of Educational and Student Services (ESS) in order to discover and share innovations, discuss best practices in the field, and solve problems related to key issues facing higher education. These issues include enrollment management, the first-year experience, college student values, substance abuse, diversity, and innovations in technology and food service. Funds are expended for both professional and support staff and include seminars, conferences and workshops on and off campus. Records indicate that up to $125,000 was spent in fiscal year 1999-2000 on ESS professional development.

The delivery of a high-quality education at a comprehensive institution depends on seamless execution of duties by support staff, skilled technicians, and professional office staff. We are committed to providing the highest level of service to our constituencies by seeking to enhance the quality, diversity and number of human resources available to meet the needs of the University (Goal 6.0). Training grants are available to reimburse Merit staff and Professional & Scientific personnel for tuition dollars spent on approved coursework. In addition, Human Resource Services provides new-employee orientation as well as printed materials, videotapes, and workshops for training and development for Merit and Professional & Scientific employees (see for more information). The addition of a Human Resources staff member dedicated specifically to professional and career development is one example of how the University plans to address Strategic Objective 6.1: increase professional career development opportunities for University staff to enhance performance.


Criteria I
Criteria II
Criteria III
Criteria IV
Criteria V
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