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University Relations

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May 10, 2005
Contact: Lynn Bretz, University Relations, (785) 864-8866.

NCA evaluation team commends KU; recommends maximum accreditation


LAWRENCE -- In the face of declining state funding and other challenges of the past 10 years, the University of Kansas has improved its academic profile and "clearly meets all the criteria for continued accreditation," according to a site report from KU's national accrediting agency.

The report by a 12-member evaluation team from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities (NCA) recommends that KU be granted the maximum 10-year accreditation.

"These challenges not withstanding," the report states, "KU has increased the academic profile of entering students; exceeded its $500 million capital campaign goal; addressed numerous space needs through new construction and renovation; increased by 120 percent its research and development expenditures; achieved helpful regulatory relief from the state; and worked with students to enact a tuition enhancement plan which provides the university with resources needed for continued growth and quality improvement."

According to the report, based on a January-February site visit, the NCA team did not find it necessary to identify concerns. In contrast, the evaluation for KU's previous accreditation in 1994 cited nine areas of concern, each of which KU has since successfully addressed, the team reported.

"It is gratifying to be so favorably reviewed by our peers in this rigorous review process," said Chancellor Robert Hemenway. "Their analysis acknowledges that the decade since KU's previous accreditation has been filled with good and hard work by the KU administration and faculty and our state leaders, all of whom believe in education and recognize the superior, enduring value of a KU degree."

Led by Indiana University vice president Charlie Nelms, the site team included representatives from such institutions as the universities of Chicago, Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Iowa State and Missouri and the Ohio State University. It met with more than 150 faculty, staff and students, and city and state officials. The team also analyzed publications, budgets and documents, including an extensive 300-page self-study prepared by KU for the accreditation review.

An "assurance" section of the site report focuses on the university's performance in five areas essential to accreditation: teaching, research, community service, planning, and mission/integrity of the university.

The report's findings include:

  • KU values effective teaching and student learning, as evidenced by its identification in the National Survey of Student Engagement as one of two large public research universities with effective teaching practices in widespread use.
  • The university has made noteworthy progress in student retention and graduation rates and has experienced in 10 years a 41 percent increase in the percentage of minority students enrolled.
  • KU has an impressive and extensive international emphasis.
  • Space and facilities for the libraries have improved.
  • Significant planning activities show "constant attention to the future of the university."
  • Information technology is effectively integrated to support student learning, teaching and research.
  • KU research expenditures have more than doubled in the past decade.
  • The university has supported its teaching and research missions with a heavy investment in new construction and facility renovation -- $450 million in facilities during the past 10 years.
  • A tuition ownership model has allowed the university to retain its tuition revenue to strengthen the learning environment.
  • The university is "well-positioned to develop and deliver superior on-line degree programs."
  • KU has a strong tradition of service statewide, from applied research areas such as assistive technology to law enforcement and firefighters' training.

An "advancement" section of the report contains site team recommendations on issues on which the university should focus during the next 10 years. These include:

  • The university should consider a phased approach to implementing a more selective admissions policy, consistent with those of other universities that, like KU, belong to the Association of American Universities.
  • Information about KU's extensive service and outreach activities should be disseminated and promoted by the university's External Affairs unit.
  • The university should continue to pursue regulatory relief from the state and retain and manage its financial resources as effectively as possible.
  • With more than $200 million in deferred maintenance projects, the university should continue to focus on repair, renovation and replacement of obsolete facilities.

The site team's report now goes to a Readers Panel, which willreview and evaluate the team report and pertinent documents. The panel's recommendation will go to the Institutional Actions Council for official action, which then will be forwarded to the Board of Trustees for validation.

Final action is expected late June. KU has been accredited since 1913. KU is the first research university to undergo accreditation using new criteria based on institutional mission.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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