A. Overview and Conceptual Framework

A.1. historical context and unique characteristics

The University of Northern Colorado is a public comprehensive baccalaureate and specialized graduate research university with a continuing commitment to its historical role in the preparation of educators. Founded in 1889, The University was one of the earlier and more prominent teacher training schools in the United States. As the State Normal School, it met the vital need to train qualified teachers in the burgeoning state of Colorado, which was less than 15 years old at the time. More than a century later, the institution has grown to become a comprehensive Carnegie Doctoral Intensive University. Preparing teachers and other educational professionals remains at the heart of the university.

 The University offers a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts, sciences, humanities, business, human sciences, and education. All students are required to study in the liberal arts tradition, which prepares them to think and act responsibly in a dynamic, diverse, and global society. Multicultural content and interdisciplinary programs enrich academic experiences. The University’s graduate programs emphasize advanced scholarship within a discipline and acquisition of professional abilities for career advancement.

Since 1916, the university has been fully accredited by the North Central Association of College and Schools. The university offers over 100 undergraduate and 100-plus graduate programs of study spread among five colleges: Education and Behavioral Sciences (CEBS), Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), Monfort College of Business (MCB), Natural and Health Sciences (NHS), and Performing and Visual Arts (PVA). Approximately 12,000 students from 46 states and 51 countries attend classes on our campus were over 2,000 courses are available. The student population is 61 percent female, 39 percents male and 15 percent minorities.

UNC’s 236-acre UNC campus is located in the city of Greeley, Colorado (population of approximately 85,000), one hour northeast of Denver and one hour east of Rocky Mountain National Park. Branch campuses are:

  • UNC Denver Center at Lowry
  • UNC Loveland Center at Centerra
  • UNC Colorado Springs Center at Oracle opened in 2010

A.2. mission

The UNC Mission statement provides direction and a foundation from which all programs develop. The Mission clearly identifies UNC’s focus on “education” and our “statewide authority” to offer education programs.

The University of Northern Colorado shall be a comprehensive baccalaureate and specialized graduate research university with selective admission standards. The University shall offer a comprehensive array of baccalaureate programs and master’s and doctoral degrees, primarily in the field of education. The University of Northern Colorado has statewide authority to offer graduate programs for the preparation of education personnel. Vision Statement, Values, Purposes and Goals.

A.3. professional education Unit

The Professional Education Unit includes all initial and advanced programs across the University that are involved in the preparation of educators to work in P-12 schools. Its 60 programs are situated in four out of five colleges: College of Education and Behavioral Sciences (CEBS), College of Natural and Health Sciences (NHS), College of Human and Social Sciences (HSS) and the College of Performing and Visual Arts (PVA). Most of the individual programs are housed within schools (academic units within the colleges). Directors provide leadership in the schools and each program is led by a program coordinator. The faculty members involved in the preparation of educators are required to have approved status in the Teacher Education Faculty (TEF). The TEF is governed by The Professional Education Council (PEC; see Board of Trustees Policy 2-3-107(4), p. 86; see also PEC Bylaws) that provides leadership and authority in the coordination of all initial and advanced Unit programs at the institution.

Our Unit is a very large and diverse unit (see our multipage organizational chart), which greatly influences our approach to governance, curriculum, and developing a comprehensive assessment system. The task of coordinating various efforts in curriculum development, advising practices, placement policies, and assessment is complex and the shared responsibility of several bodies (The Unit Head, three other deans, The NCATE Leadership Team, the Professional Education Council, Elementary/Early Childhood Program Area, Secondary Coordinating Council, School Directors, program coordinators, etc.). Sharing data across programs and developing unit-wide assessment strategies were at the center of our improvement efforts since the last NCATE review. Our strengths are a strong sense of commitment to the preparation of educators and a collaborative ethos of faculty from all colleges.

UNC is the acknowledged leader in educational professional preparation in the State, both for its size and reputation for program excellence. In 2008/09, we graduated 399 undergraduate candidates and 204 graduate candidates. We enjoy a remarkable level of collaboration with the two state agencies involved in regulation of teacher education, and 15 other state institutions with teacher preparation programs.