Chapter 9

CONCLUSION

 

The primary purpose for preparing this report was to present examples and patterns of evidence that demonstrate UMD meets the five criteria established for continued accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. A second major objective of the report is to help members of the UMD community and its external constituencies better understand the policies and procedures, operations, aspirations, and achievements of the organization.

 

UMD’s mission statement clearly identifies the organization’s commitment to excellence in teaching, research, and service as core components of operations. As evidenced by their mission and vision statements, academic and other units at UMD value diversity as a means of enriching the educational experiences of all students; creating a sense of belonging throughout the campus; and fostering positive relations among students, faculty, staff, and the external community. Educating globally competent citizens and preparing students to function in a multicultural society are outcomes that are objectives in a variety of educational and other programs and activities across campus.

 

The University and UMD have developed policies, procedures, and activities to ensure the system and campus operate with integrity in all areas. The continuous internal and external review and audit of operations identify areas for change and improvement and ensure there is understanding of and compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations.

 

The results of UMD’s planning and budgeting for allocation of resources and its processes for evaluation and planning demonstrate its capacity to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its education and other programs and activities, and respond to future challenges and opportunities. Administrators and others at UMD use data and information from evaluation and assessment processes to determine institutional effectiveness and achieve continuous improvement, and they are committed to and promote the use of ongoing evaluation and assessment at all levels to prepare for the future. The organization has made significant investments in its future through new initiatives in undergraduate and graduate programming, academic facilities, Native American education, information technology, advising, and efforts to increase graduation and retention rates. These investments demonstrate UMD’s capacity and commitment to respond to demographic trends and regional needs and its ability to successfully prepare for the future.

 

As noted often in the report, student learning and effective teaching are considered to be the most important of UMD’s core operations. Congruent with its recognition of what is identified in the mission as its “primary commitment to quality teaching,” UMD has invested heavily to support student learning and effective teaching. Faculty, administration, and staff at UMD have worked to develop a wide range of programs and services designed to help students meet their educational goals. Enhancements in technology, ready access to information and services, and a state of the art library have contributed to the creation of a leading edge 21st century higher education environment on campus and are a reflection of UMD’s commitment to support excellence in teaching and learning and creation of effective learning environments.

 

The criteria for faculty tenure and promotion and annual increases in salary based on merit as well as the programs that are provided to support faculty use of new pedagogies and technology also demonstrate the value UMD places on high quality teaching. Further, the organization’s investment in its current process of liberal education reform and development of campus-wide learning outcomes are evidence UMD continues to work to ensure that “a firm liberal arts foundation anchors” the educational programs being offered, as stated in the mission.

 

UMD and the University have developed and implemented numerous programs that indicate campus and system leaders value a life of learning for faculty, administration, staff, and students. Participation in the many professional development opportunities provided is high, and the organization has developed programs to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement. As evidenced by examples described in Chapter 7, UMD has developed programs and activities designed to make the acquisition of a breadth of knowledge and the exercise of intellectual inquiry an integral part of the education of its students.  Completion of the required liberal education program by all students seeking a baccalaureate degree at UMD is a primary means of assuring that graduates have a broad perspective on what it means to be an educated person. UMD regularly assesses its curriculum to determine its usefulness to students who are preparing to live and work in the global, diverse, and technological 21st century society. Participation in international education programs as well as the many arts, cultural, intellectual, and other events occurring on campus also provide members of the campus community with a breadth of knowledge and presents opportunities to exercise intellectual inquiry in a variety of ways. 

 

The levels of annual sponsored project activity by UMD units and dissemination of knowledge by the faculty are measures of how the organization has succeeded in increasing the acquisition, discovery, and application of knowledge internally and externally. These measures of research and creative activity also provide evidence that UMD has succeeded in being “a university community in which knowledge is sought as well as taught” and that “its faculty recognizes the importance of scholarship and service” and “the intrinsic value of research,” as stated in the UMD mission. The organization has developed programs to ensure UMD students are provided information about and acquire attitudes essential to the responsible acquisition and use of knowledge and information. Additionally, the organization has developed and implemented policies, procedures, and training explicitly intended to ensure ethical conduct in research and instructional activities by all members of the UMD community.

 

UMD has identified its constituencies and serves them in ways both value. The organization has developed processes for learning from the constituencies it serves and has demonstrated it has the capacity and commitment to serve their needs and expectations. Information and examples included in Chapter 8 identify and describe how units in each of the vice chancellor areas at UMD have responded to the constituencies that depend on them for service. Information and examples also present evidence that internal and external constituencies value the services provided by UMD. 

 

Based on the contents of this report, members of the UMD campus community believe the organization has met the criteria required for continued and unqualified accreditation for an additional 10 years by the Higher Learning Commission without the need for subsequent progress reports or focused visits unless requested by the institution.



 

FEDERAL COMPLIANCE

Credits, Program Length, and Tuition

 

UMD operates on a semester system using credit hour assignments for its courses and uses practices common to other institutions of higher education. The length of all programs has been approved by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents and is consistent with standards for higher education among comparable institutions.

 

Tuition and fees are set annually by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents upon recommendation from the University administration, which works with UMD and other coordinate campus administrators to establish the tuition and fees for each campus.  The UMD 2007-2008 semester tuition and fee rates are available from the UMD Financial Aid and Registrar Office and are published online at:  http://www.d.umn.edu/registrar/feerate_2007-2008.htm.

 

As is true throughout the University system, tuition at UMD is assessed according to student classification, residency status, and whether the student comes from a state or province with which the University has a reciprocity agreement.  UMD has a single undergraduate or graduate tuition rate based on residency.  Tuition varies by programs for the professional schools only. 

 

The University has undergraduate reciprocity agreements with Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Manitoba. Students, who are residents of any of these states or this province, may qualify for reciprocity tuition rates, which are lower than nonresident tuition rates and, in some cases, comparable to resident rates. The University has reciprocity agreements for admitted graduate school students with North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Manitoba.

 

Compliance with the Higher Education Reauthorization Act

As noted previously in the self-study report, financial controls and audit of financial statements and activities at the coordinate campuses of the University are the responsibility of central administration offices located at the Twin Cities campus. Therefore, UMD’s participation in federal programs for student financial aid is primarily governed by University participation in these programs. The University’s external auditors have not found or reported any material findings concerning the Higher Education Reauthorization Act (HERA) or any other federal or state policy.  All Title IV and state funds have been reconciled in a timely fashion with state, federal, and other financial aid funding agencies for the appropriate years; and all reports have been completed on time. 

 

The Department of Education does not have any on-going audits with UMD, and UMD has not been subject to any limitation, suspension, or termination (LST) actions. The most current Application for Approval to Participate in the Federal Student Financial Aid Programs by UMD was approved in December 2006.  The next reapplication date is September 2012.  All documents and materials related to UMD’s participation in financial aid programs are available in the Financial Aid and Registrar Office, 139 Darland Administration Building, 218-726-8000.

 

UMD’s official default rates for the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program for the past three years for which data are available are:

FY 2005 = 1.6%                     FY 2004 = 1.9%                     FY 2003 = 1.2%

 

UMD’s official default rates for the Perkins Loan Program for the past three years for which data are available are:

FY 2006 = 9.85%                   FY 2005 = 7.39%                   FY 2004 = 6.16%

 

As part of the broader annual audit of the University’s financial statements, external auditors conduct an audit of the University's internal control over financial reporting and its compliance with certain provisions of laws, regulations, contracts, and government agreements and other matters in accordance with Government Auditing Standards. The results of the most recent audit reported in a letter dated October 16, 2007, "disclosed no instance of noncompliance or other matters that are required to be reported under Government Auditing Standards." The findings from the most recent and previous audits are available using links from the “Annual A-133 Reports” area of the University Controller’s web site.

 

UMD is in compliance with Title IV requirements regarding disclosure of campus crime and university graduation rates. UMD campus crime statistics are available from the UMD Office of Student Behavior. UMD graduation rates are available from the Accountable to U web site produced by the University Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.  These data are available online at the following URLs:

 

Campus Crime Statistics http://www.d.umn.edu/assl/conduct/conduct/campus-crime.htm

Grad Rates http://www.academic.umn.edu/accountability/reports/graduation_rates_umd.html

 

Compliance Visits to Off-Campus Locations

UMD is in compliance with the Commission’s policy of reviewing off-site locations at which a student can complete 50% or more of a degree program.

 

Advertisement and Recruitment Materials

UMD cites its accreditation status with HLC in its current and previous catalogs and when deemed appropriate in advertising and recruiting materials. The UMD catalog is revised biennially and is available online as well as in hardcopy. The information is on page five of the UMD 2007-2009 catalog and includes the Commission’s address and its toll-free phone number. The same reference is used when deemed appropriate in advertising and recruiting materials. However, as part of the self-study, it was noted that the reference to HLC in the current catalog and other materials does not follow the stated preference on page 8.2-3 of The Handbook of Accreditation. To comply with the Commission’s preference, future editions of the UMD catalog will include the URL of HLC’s web site rather than the street address and will include the HLC local phone number (312-263-0456) rather than the toll-free number. UMD also prominently displays its own contact information in the catalog and all other print and electronic publications.

 

Requirements of Holding Dual Institutional Accreditation

UMD does not hold institutional affiliating with any CHEA recognized or federally recognized institutional accrediting bodies other than the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities.  Therefore, requirements of institutions holding dual institutional accreditation are not applicable to UMD.

 

Records of Student Complaints

As expected when working with more than 10,000 students, members of the UMD faculty, staff, and administration receive and deal with a variety of student complaints each year. There is no ombudsman or single unit or office at UMD that serves as a central repository for student complaints.  However, based on an informal survey of the Chancellor’s Office, the Vice Chancellors’ Offices, the Office of Student Behavior, the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Department of Police, and the five collegiate Deans’ Offices on campus, it was determined that there were very few nontrivial complaints, made formally in writing, signed by a student, and addressed to and submitted to an organizational officer at UMD during the past two academic years, 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. And since no UMD organizational officer is aware of any unresolved nontrivial student complaint as of December 2007, it is concluded that all student complaints, verbal or written, academic or nonacademic, have been handled to the student’s satisfaction.

 

The Chancellor’s Office receives less than 10 written student complaints per year, mainly by email, the official communication mode between students and UMD. Typical complaints involve registration problems, parking, programmatic changes, and housing. These complaints are shared with the appropriate vice chancellor and are handled in consultation with appropriate units and individuals. The vice chancellor for academic administration receives a total of about 10 written student complaints per year, including those referred from the chancellor. These complaints are handled in consultation with administration and staff in the collegiate or other units involved. The number of written student complaints received by the five collegiate units per year ranges from 2-12. As expected, most of these are related to grades, grading policies, or instructor performance. As is true for verbal complaints related to the same topics, the written complaints are handled in consultation with individual instructors and department heads.

 

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