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The University of Iowa Fulfilling the Promise: Reaccreditation 2008
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Section I:
Institutional Self-Study

Section II:
Special Emphasis Self-Study—Undergraduate Education

Section III:
Conclusion/Request for Reaccreditation


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The University of Iowa (UI) has been accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), of which it is a charter member, since 1913. Every ten years, the University undergoes review and evaluation by the NCA’s Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to determine whether it has continued to meet the high standards required for reaccreditation.

As a first step in this process, the University conducts a self-study. The resulting report informs the external evaluators—but even more importantly, it helps set a direction for the University’s future by highlighting strengths and weaknesses in critical areas. Moreover, it serves as a status report for the University’s internal and external constituencies, thus helping the University to uphold its responsibility for accountability to the people it serves.

Ten years ago, we chose to take advantage of the then-new “special emphasis self-study” option, which allows a qualified institution to focus its self-examination on an area of particular, timely importance. At that time, we chose to study how effectively we were using information and communications technology to meet our teaching and learning goals. That self-study, in conjunction with the site visitors’ evaluation, helped us direct our efforts and position ourselves for considerable success in an area of rapidly increasing centrality as we entered the 21st century. This reaccreditation cycle, we hope to benefit once again from the opportunity to make that kind of concentrated assessment in an area of critical importance, this time with a special emphasis on undergraduate education.

As institutional leaders consulted across the University with faculty, staff, and administrators in all eleven colleges, they were convinced the time is ripe for a renewed commitment to undergraduate education. After all, in the words of former Executive Vice President and Provost Michael J. Hogan, undergraduate education is our “core function . . . . Public universities wouldn’t exist were it not for our role in educating undergraduate students and preparing them for responsible participation in their communities.” Using the self-study as an opportunity to examine the many facets of undergraduate education at The University of Iowa provides the critical, evidence-based self-examination that will help us achieve the first goal of our strategic plan: “To create a University experience that enriches the lives of undergraduates and helps them to become well-informed individuals, lifelong learners, engaged citizens, and productive employees and employers.”

Section I of this self-study report provides The University of Iowa’s general self-assessment regarding its compliance with the HLC criteria for accreditation. Section II describes the process, and evaluates the results, of the special emphasis self-study on undergraduate education, which the Provost set in motion in summer 2005. Throughout section II, sidebar notes highlight how the findings of the special emphasis self-study also address the accreditation criteria.

Many individuals—faculty, staff, students, community members—contributed to the self-study and to preparing this report. Many are named within the text that follows, but most are not. The self-study steering committee extends its sincere gratitude to them all.

January, 2008




© The University of Iowa 2008.Office of the Provost. • All rights reserved