Academic Affairs Areas of Focus
The enduring commitment of UNF to high quality undergraduate education has been reaffirmed by the university's pledge to provide individualized instruction in response to the unique needs and ambitions of all its students. As one means of achieving this end, the university has implemented a broad array of "transformational learning opportunities." These curricular and extra-curricular opportunities include activities like study abroad, service learning, collaborative research projects with faculty, and leadership experiences. Academic Affairs is also engaged in an ongoing process of curricular and program review in order to assure that all academic programs, including general education and the disciplinary majors and minors, are as effective, substantive, and coherent as they can be. The university currently offers a full range of programs of study at the undergraduate level to accommodate the intellectual and professional interests of its students. The Office of Undergraduate Studies along with the newly established Center for Community Based Learning will ensure that, even as the university continues to grow, undergraduate education at UNF will continue to maintain its uniquely distinctive qualities.
UNF always has offered graduate education, and graduate education will become an even more prominent component of UNF's academic programs in the years ahead. The university already offers a rich array of master's programs in the colleges of Arts and Sciences; Computing, Engineering, and Construction; Education and Human Services; the Brooks College of Health; and the Coggin College of Business. In the near future more master's programs will be added in each college; in addition, the university added two additional doctoral programs in Nursing Practice and Physical Therapy. All new programs will be developed with a keen sense of the educational and professional needs of the greater Jacksonville area so that citizens of the region will be able to look to UNF to meet their educational and professional aspirations and so that the region can count upon UNF to supply it with a talented, articulate, and progressive workforce. The university's transformation of its division of "graduate studies" to the "graduate school" attests to the heightened role of graduate education at UNF.
The University of North Florida is a university which strongly values and vigorously supports scholarship. It does so for two reasons: faculty who are engaged scholars and committed teachers, a combination which at UNF is the norm, are best able to provide informed, stimulating pedagogy; and because UNF faculty are well qualified to make important contributions to pure and applied knowledge. To these ends Academic Affairs has been providing increasing resources to facilitate faculty research. These include summer grants, release time for research, support for sponsored research overseen by an assistant vice president for research, faculty colloquia, support for distinguished visiting speakers, and funds for faculty travel. In addition to providing an enriching learning environment for students, the scholarly activity of its faculty is also a significant means through which UNF fulfills its role as "North Florida's University."
UNF is a public university. Academic Affairs is committed to fulfilling the responsibilities that derive from the public nature of the university by serving the citizens of the region and state in ways that capitalize upon the mutual needs and resources of the community and the university to the mutual benefit of both. Faculty and students contribute in myriad ways to the advancement of health care, education, the economy, the environment, and every other physical and social aspect of the First Coast. Some of this activity takes the form of "service-learning," directed study in which students engage directly in "real world" issues and affirm their impulse toward civic duty. Faculty members utilize their disciplinary expertise to produce "applied scholarship" that directly addresses an array of regional concerns. A broad range of research centers and institutes are directly linked to community partners. In these and other ways Academic Affairs actively promotes the relevance of its efforts to the citizens it is proud to serve. The university’s commitment to its public responsibilities has been distilled into its developed "Quality Enhancement Plan," centered upon community-based transformational learning. While this plan was created in response to an accreditation mandate, it evolves directly from the university's mission, especially in its focus on the discovery and application and knowledge and the cultivation of citizenship. Central to executing UNF's Community-Based Transformational Learning program is the Center for Community-Based Learning. The Center collaborates with the Office of Faculty Enhancement to assist faculty in developing courses that incorporate community-based learning experiences. The Center is to oversee and advance initiatives designed to increase civic awareness and engagement of students and inventory the needs of the Jacksonville community.
The University of North Florida is intent on becoming among the strongest and most reputable institutions of its kind. This ambition is motivated not by a desire for mere prestige; rather, it derives from a genuine commitment to fundamental institutional responsibilities. Our responsibility to our students requires that we constantly measure the extent to which they are achieving the educational goals that have been set for them. As stewards of public and private support we also have a responsibility to use resources not just effectively but also efficiently. Consistent with its mission, the university has a responsibility to maximize its contribution to the advancement of Northeast Florida. Towards the fulfillment of all these responsibilities the university is engaged in a comprehensive strategic planning process that will clearly delineate the trajectory it must follow to achieve its aspiration of becoming "a regional university of national quality."