UL System Releases Institutional Review of Northwestern State University
UL System Releases Institutional Review of Northwestern State University - Feb 2, 2005
For Immediate Release: February 2, 2005
Contact: Catherine Soileau Heitman, 225-342-6950 or 219-0265
NATCHITOCHES, La. – The University of Louisiana System released an institutional review of Northwestern State University today. UL System President Sally Clausen and Northwestern President Randy Webb shared the results of the review with more than 300 faculty and staff on the university’s campus.
The report, which had eight observations and 10 recommendations for strengthening the university, was generally positive, Clausen said. The entire document is available on the UL System’s website at www.ulsystem.net.
Conducted by a team led by Dennis Jones, President of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems in Denver, the NSU review is the fourth such review commissioned by the Board of Supervisors for the UL System. The board has credited these reviews at Grambling State University, Nicholls State University and UL Monroe with providing university leaders with valuable roadmaps for the future.
The team, which read volumes of budget information and other documents, interviewed more than 100 NSU faculty, staff and students and offered strategies to help the university maintain enrollment in light of rising academic standards being implemented this fall.
"These recommendations could position NSU as a strong contributor in addressing the issues emerging as the strategic agenda for the state of Louisiana," the report said. These issues include "improving adult literacy, providing more efficient universal health care, and expecting high academic standards for all students leaving high school and entering four-year universities."
The report determined that, while "the University is operating on a very limited resource base, the resources that are available are efficiently utilized" and that Northwestern has "many highly qualified people doing the right things and doing them well."
Board Chair Mike Woods compared an institutional review to a doctor’s check-up. “You hope for all good news, but most of the time the results mean more exercise and better eating habits. Either way, it's smart to get the check-up so you can improve your health. In this case, it's the health of an institution that we’re monitoring. We plan to conduct similar reviews at all of our campuses.”
"This review will be beneficial and productive because it verifies so many of the strengths and positive aspects of the university,” said President Randy Webb, who volunteered to have Northwestern reviewed. “It also underscores some facets of the institution that will require improvement and increased attention so that Northwestern can continue moving toward the overall excellence for which we strive.”
“New admission standards that will go into effect at Northwestern next year will have an impact on enrollment, funding, academic programs and other parts of the university, so the timing was appropriate for this review. Results and recommendations of the evaluation will be used as a blueprint to build upon our strengths and to meet the challenges of enhancing areas and aspects of the university that need to be improved,” added Webb.
Board Vice Chair Jimmy Long of Natchitoches, a long-time supporter of Northwestern, said the ultimate goal of the review is to improve the university. "This is an objective view of the campus, complete with its challenges and opportunities. It prescribes strategies for the university and suggests critical ways for this board and the Legislature to support the campus. Northwestern has been a strong, stable leader in higher education in North Central Louisiana for more than 120 years, and this institutional review will assist the university in continuing to serve students in a positive and effective way, even as dramatic changes continue in higher education across the state."
The report makes recommendations for every aspect of the university's operations, from its strategic plan and finances to its internal communication and campus environment. It also offers recommendations to state-level higher education policy makers. Among these, it suggests the UL System concentrate efforts in Northwestern's service area to make students aware of more rigorous requirements for entering universities this fall.
"Mr. Jones and his team specialize in higher education issues and work with systems and universities throughout the country, so their perspective is beneficial to us," Clausen said. "They pointed out strengths that Northwestern and the board should embrace and reinforce, and they also identified areas that require immediate attention from the university and its governing board. Northwestern plays a vital role in the economic vitality of this region and is an essential link in the education chain in that area. Fortunately the community leaders and legislators appreciate that and support their university. Dr. Webb is to be commended for stepping forward and offering to place Northwestern under a microscope in order that it may become even stronger."
Charlie Teamer, UL System Board Member and a former commissioner on the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, commended the campus community for its commitment to implement the recommendations. “You have a running start as you move into reaffirmation of accreditation in the next few years.”
Board Member Wayne Parker said, “There is an old adage that says you’re either moving forward or you’re standing still, and if you’re standing still, you’re moving backwards. This report affords the opportunity to move forward in ways that will improve the quality of the institution for its students.”
Northwestern State University was founded in 1884 and is the oldest institution in the University of Louisiana System. The university has an enrollment of 10,546 students, the largest in the institution’s history. Northwestern’s main campus is in Natchitoches along with permanent campuses in Shreveport, Leesville/Fort Polk and a strong presence at the Learning Center for Rapides Parish in Alexandria. The university also has a strong distance education program with compressed video sites connecting several communities with eight degree programs available online.
The UL System includes over 84,000 students on eight campuses throughout Louisiana. ULS institutions are Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, UL Lafayette and UL Monroe.
FOR MORE INFORMATIONContact: Cami Geisman
225.219.0270 | Cami.Geisman@la.gov