OSUOklahoma State University


Criterion Four: Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge

The organization promotes a life of learning for its faculty, administration, staff, and students by fostering and supporting inquiry, creativity, practice, and social responsibility in ways consistent with its mission.

OSU's commitment to a life of learning is clearly articulated in its mission and planning documents and practiced on a daily basis. All members of the university community have the opportunity to participate in a variety of studies and activities that broaden outlooks and contribute to well-rounded and educated citizens.

In addition to traditional classroom work, both undergraduate and graduate students are involved in research, creative projects, travel, internships, and any number of cultural and community service experiences. These experiences, in addition to coursework, help students become lifelong learners and help them apply their knowledge. OSU's faculty and staff also provide excellent examples of lifelong learners as they pursue ongoing scholarly and professional development, research, creative endeavors, and community involvement.

Core Component 4a

The organization demonstrates, through the actions of its board, administrators, students, faculty, and staff, that it values a life of learning.

The university's board and administrators work to ensure that students, faculty, and staff have various opportunities to pursue a “life of learning.” These opportunities encompass general education, scholarships, internships, study abroad programs, academic honor societies, and extracurricular activities. Opportunities for staff and administrators include professional development and the possibility of pursuing an OSU degree with reduced tuition. Faculty opportunities include support for teaching, travel, and sabbaticals in addition to honors and awards, such as Regents Distinguished Teaching and Research Awards, college teaching awards, Regents Professorships, and endowed chairs. In addition, the entire university community enjoys many opportunities for a life of learning through the wide variety of speakers who are brought to campus and the many cultural and artistic activities.

Strategic Plan Supports Broad Knowledge

OSU System CEO and President David L. Schmidly states in the university's “Achieving Greatness” Strategic Plan4.1 that OSU must stress the humanities so students have the ability to think creatively and imaginatively about life and the world in its fullest dimensions. He also says students must be placed in a positive, achievement-oriented environment of excellence that will fully develop their intellectual and leadership potential.

Institutional Commitment to Scholar Development

OSU has demonstrated its commitment to the development of scholars and the programs to support them. This commitment has yielded national and international recognition. Over a 10-year period, students from OSU have been recognized with Rhodes, Marshall, Udall, Goldwater, Gates, Rotary, Fulbright, and a total of eight Truman Scholarships,4.2 leading to OSU's recognition as a Truman Honor School. These scholars are important and notable. Others who have become successful graduate students, employees, citizens, and complete individuals through study and service at OSU are just as important.

OSU's central effort in student scholar development is coordinated by the Office of Scholar Development and Recognition4.3 (OSDR). This office is charged with promoting and expanding OSU students' records of success in selected national scholarship competitions and with managing the resources of the multi-faceted Lew Wentz Scholarship Fund. OSDR seeks students who are highly motivated in both academics and public service. High-achieving individuals who enjoy debating issues and reading widely and who thrive on research and travel opportunities are ideal candidates for the scholar development program.

Discovery of knowledge is specifically the focus of undergraduate research programs, including the Freshman Research Scholars Program,4.4 the Lew Wentz Scholar Program,4.5 the Niblack Scholars Program, and Louis Stokes Scholarships.

OSU encourages graduate student research through the administration of three competitive research programs. Each year, 15-20 $2,200 Distinguished Graduate Fellowships are awarded to support students' education and research. A total of 10-12 $2,000 Robberson Fellowships are awarded to graduate students to conduct research during summers each year. Finally, three $1,000 Nancy Randolf Davis Fellowships are awarded.

The Graduate College4.6 and the Graduate and Professional Student Government Association4.7 (GPSGA), provide travel expenses to allow graduate students to present their research at professional conferences.

OSU's commitment to the development of scholars and the discovery of knowledge is further demonstrated through the establishment of The Honors College.4.8 Although an honors program has been in place for many years, the establishment of The Honors College enhances opportunities for students to study, conduct research, and exchange ideas in a challenging and supportive academic environment. The honors program began in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and now includes participation throughout the university.

Honors sections typically are limited to 22 students. Honors sections are taught by faculty from the six undergraduate colleges, the College of Veterinary Medicine, and the College of Osteopathic Medicine. The Honors College does not have separate faculty lines, but it funds interdisciplinary honors course sections and most special honors seminars through released-time arrangements with academic departments. The Honors College also funds “overflow” honors sections of departmental-prefix courses once a departmentally funded honors section has reached its enrollment capacity, and it also on occasion provides “seed money” to offer an honors section of a departmental-prefix course. Approximately half of the honors sections are funded from academic departments' own budgets, while The Honors College provides funding for the other half. The availability of an adequate number of honors sections thus is the responsibility of both The Honors College and the six undergraduate colleges.

Most academic departments in OSU's colleges include some graduate programs, but the Graduate College is the hub of advanced study and research at OSU. Teaching and research assistantships are common across the university, and several fellowships are available. All graduate programs include an emphasis upon research and scholarship.

The Graduate College is organized into six graduate faculty groups based on discipline. These groups have responsibility for quality control and policies related to programs, qualifications for graduate faculty membership, and curricular review at the graduate level. These graduate faculty groups are represented on the Graduate Faculty Council,4.9 the governing body for graduate education at OSU.

OSU annually recognizes significant graduate student research as demonstrated in master's theses or doctoral dissertations. Research that has been nominated and selected is recognized during the graduate commencement ceremony.

OSU recognizes outstanding research among faculty members. Each year one faculty member is selected for the Eminent Faculty Award, the highest and most prestigious faculty award. This award comes with a $10,000 cash prize. The award recognizes a faculty member who has made sustained contributions to scholarly-creative activity, teaching, and service. In addition, approximately 40 faculty who maintain a world-class reputation for research success have been named to the honorary title of Regents Professor. OSU also recognizes faculty members for research success in its Regents Distinguished Research Awards program. Each year, eight faculty members receive this award (one in each college except CAS, which has two). Each winner earns a permanent $1,000 salary increase.

Colleges Encourage Scholar Development

Several colleges have implemented specialized programs to encourage scholar development. These include the leadership development program for undergraduate scholars in the Spears School of Business4.10 (SSB) and the Scholars and Research Scholar Program in the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology4.11 (CEAT). The College of Human Environmental Sciences4.12 (CHES) awards four freshman research scholarships and has developed an alliance between chair positions and students as research scholars. The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources4.13 (CASNR) also offers undergraduate research scholarships and awards for graduate student dissertations and faculty career research. The Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by the National Science Foundation and housed in the CAS, allows undergraduates to work with OSU's faculty on research projects in the summer.

Internships and Related Activities

Internships, field experiences, and other practical training opportunities allow students to broaden their education and gain skills necessary in the workplace. OSU does a good job of supporting programs for those students who wish to participate in them.

Opportunities for internships and similar experiences vary widely. Undoubtedly, OSU's location outside a major metropolitan area limits the number of internship possibilities during the fall and spring semesters, and internship programs are more applicable in some disciplines than others. However, many students participate in internships. For example, all students in CHES complete an internship and many CEAT students participate in the college's Cooperative Engineering Education Program.

Although many internship opportunities exist, and it is becoming the norm for a student to do an internship, the NSSE data indicate that the percent of OSU students who have an internship is less than at peer institutions.4.14

Study Abroad Programs

OSU offers a reasonable number of study abroad programs supported by scholarships. These programs are centrally coordinated through the Study Abroad Office.4.15 Approximately 10-20 OSU specific scholarships are offered annually.

Several college-specific programs are also available. These include the Bailey Family Memorial Scholarship Program, housed in CAS, which supports students' study abroad and the annual CHES School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration (HRAD) program offered each summer in Montreaux, Switzerland.

Academic Honor Societies

Primary support of academic honor societies is provided at the department level, and individual departments support these activities. Nearly every department on campus has one or more honor societies in addition to campus-wide societies such as Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi, and numerous others. A Phi Beta Kappa chapter is not currently established at OSU; however, establishment of a chapter remains a topic of discussion.

Library Aids Life of Learning

As a centralized university-wide entity, the OSU Edmon Low Library4.16 has as its primary mission to provide high-quality resources, services, and gateways to information to meet the needs of OSU's diverse instructional, research, and outreach programs. In accordance with the university's land-grant mission, the library also serves as an information resource for all the citizens of Oklahoma through direct access to its extensive collections and special services and by sharing these resources as needed with other libraries in the state. As the academic heart of the university, the library responds to the needs of its constituents, emphasizes cooperative arrangements with other libraries, and maximizes the application of state-of-the-art technology to facilitate speedier and ever-wider access to needed information.

Extracurricular Activities

Support of clubs and professional societies is spread across the university with virtually all departments reporting at least one, and in many cases, more student organizations.

There has been a concerted effort to involve students in extracurricular activities and to foster awareness of available programs. A good example is the YOU network4.17 through which students can find information about organizations, activities, or current campus events.

Faculty Scholar Development

Scholar development efforts among the faculty emanate from the respective “appointment, reappointment, tenure, and promotion” (ARPT) documents representing each academic unit. These documents show a consistency in expectation in compliance with OSU Policy and Procedure Letter 2-0902.4.18 Among those consistencies across academic units that demonstrate that a life of learning is valued is a progressive, sequential increase in expectations by rank and years of service. Each academic unit prepares the requirements expected for the sequential and progressive development of its scholars.

There is a high degree of diversity between and within colleges with respect to research performance and culture. At the unit level, research is emphasized by promotion and tenure documents, merit raise algorithms, and the criteria for determining both teaching loads and summer support. Recently, the SSB implemented a program to award a monetary prize for publishing in a field's best journal and the dean of the College of Education (COE) established and funded a faculty development series, which is coordinated by a faculty member. CHES has a Faculty Scholars program for new faculty. All CHES faculty members attend sessions during their first year to help them acclimate to the faculty role. As part of this program, a research proposal submission is required, and faculty members are taken to Washington, D.C. and to state agencies to discuss research and outreach possibilities.

Sabbatical Leave

The university's sabbatical leave policies indicate that OSU supports and values a life of learning through the use of sabbatical leave. CAS and SSB regularly support sabbatical leave for eligible faculty members, but faculty members in CHES and COE have not participated in sabbaticals in recent years. Some faculty members prefer to participate in short-term faculty development activities such as the Big 12 Faculty Fellowship Program.

OSU's sabbatical leave policy was reworked in 2003-04 to make sabbatical leaves simpler to obtain and utilize. The university administration agreed to several changes recommended by the Faculty Council.4.19 Changes will include a central fund to be used to cover teaching needs with adjunct faculty members when faculty take sabbatical leaves.

Support for Professional Development and Research

Institutional support for individual faculty members in professional development and research efforts varies widely between and within colleges. Some colleges and academic units have supported professional development with international travel, substantial “start-up” funds to encourage research, cutting-edge technology, and other resources.

Through the Office of the Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer4.20 (VPR), OSU endorses the principle that research income should be reinvested to allow research to become self-sustaining. OSU funds a research start-up program for new faculty researchers to set up their laboratories and purchase research equipment and supplies. In FY2005, this program received $2 million in funding. The actual use of these start-up funds for support of faculty research varies tremendously by discipline and academic unit. In general, OSU also provides cost-share funds to support laboratory renovation and other core research facility upgrades.

Some feel that OSU should concentrate fundraising efforts on enhancing research through sponsorship of endowed research professorships and chairs, graduate student research support, and additional research facilities. Some also think that OSU needs more partnerships with the public and private sectors and with other universities in the conduct of joint research collaborations. Many also think the importance of identifying development efforts for scholarly/creative activity should be emphasized.

Departmental Support for Travel

It is evident that OSU's departmental budgets for travel vary greatly across and within colleges. The crucial factor seems to be whether individuals have access to travel money from grants. In those departments without considerable grant dollars, funding for travel is restricted. Generally, faculty members are required to support travel from research or personal funds.

Professional Development for Staff

A number of training opportunities are available to staff through the OSU Human Resources Office,4.21 which sponsors numerous classes in a variety of subjects each semester. In addition, OSU policies allow full-time staff members to pursue college-credit courses with reduced tuition costs.

While everyone supports the notion of staff development, much seems to depend upon the availability of offerings, money, time, and individual interest and motivation. Various levels of commitment to staff development are found across the university. Some departments report that they encourage staff members to upgrade their skills in support of the department, and departments sometimes pay for either on-campus or off-campus short courses and training seminars for staff. Some departments even require staff members to attend training sessions. Annual appraisal processes for staff include appraisal in the area of professional development, although there is often no other strong incentive (monetary or promotion) for professional development. One department reports that its technical staff, most of whom have Ph.D. degrees, are given the opportunity to attend one national scientific meeting or workshop and at least one local meeting.

Many staff members pursue degrees while employed at OSU. Support for their efforts is varied. Release time for staff to take classes or pursue degrees is permitted according to university policies and procedures, and full-time staff members pay only one-half of the normal tuition. Some departments and units not only encourage staff members to pursue degrees, but even help them financially. Others report that they are too short-staffed and under-budgeted to encourage employees to take time from their duties for classes. Some report that they are most receptive to staff members taking classes that directly relate to their job performance.

Communication about Learning Opportunities

The promotion and communication of learning opportunities and achievements is accomplished through a variety of avenues. These include listings on scrolling calendars shown on flat-screen monitors displayed in offices throughout the campus, publicity in such publications as the OSU Accomplishments4.22 (created for OSU's Regents), the OSU Magazine (the alumni magazine), other Alumni Association materials, various university outreach materials, the Daily O'Collegian campus newspaper,4.23 the Stillwater NewsPress, the Daily Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, statewide newspapers, campus signs and bulletin boards, electronic media such as the university website, e-mail headlines, radio and television announcements, and other means.

Core Component 4b

The organization demonstrates that acquisition of a breadth of knowledge and skills and the exercise of intellectual inquiry are integral to its educational programs.

University-wide expectations in general education and research demonstrate the integral nature of a breadth of knowledge and skill, as well as the exercise of intellectual inquiry at OSU. Units within OSU encourage interdisciplinary inquiry through such programs as the Wentz Scholarships for Research, the Freshman Research Scholars, research collaboration between disciplines and with other institutions, special programs at the college level, national and international travel, student clubs and organizations, and cultural events.

Research at OSU

OSU's commitment to the acquisition of knowledge is amply demonstrated by the work of the university's many dedicated researchers. Much of OSU's basic scientific research helps expand the universal knowledge-base and contributes information that could eventually lead to many valuable applications. Other OSU research starts with the basics and leads to the development of prototypes that have more immediate application. Almost all of these projects involve the work of graduate and undergraduate students. In addition to knowledge gained in lectures, students are able to learn science “hands-on” by working alongside experts in their fields.

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Research Expenditures, 1996-2004

Bar chart displaying annual research funding in millions of dollars from 1996 to 2004

Intellectual Property

Bar chart displaying number of patents granted to OSU from 1996 to 2004

Intellectual Property

Bar chart displaying number of licences yielding income to OSU from 1996 to 2004

Intellectual Property

Bar chart displaying income from licences received by OSU from 1996 to 2004

An overview of the university's research expenditures reveals a more complete picture. Expenditures increased from $106 million in FY2003 to $108 million in FY2004, a record high for OSU. In the area of intellectual property, licensing income increased from $649,000 in FY2003 to $770,000 in FY2004. It is anticipated that license income from intellectual property will approach $1 million in the near future. As the numbers indicate, the university is moving forward in achieving its research goals.

The pioneering work of an OSU botanist provides an excellent example of a researcher's work that contributed to the world's knowledge of plants. The botanist advised an international team that completed the first complete plant genome sequence.4.24 Knowledge gained from this project is being applied by scientists around the world in devising easier ways to grow plants in adverse conditions and in helping make edible plants healthier.

Sensor development has been a high profile research priority at OSU for a number of years. A group of OSU physicists developed a small sensor badge that can be worn on a person's clothing to detect radiation. This technology was taken into the marketplace by a major corporation. These physicists and others were part of a team that sent radiation sensors into space for testing on board the Shuttle and the Space Station. Other physicist-developed sensor badges include one to measure ultraviolet light.

OSU researchers also are working on, or have developed, sensors to detect harmful pollutants and biological warfare agents in water, to easily detect lethal gases, and to detect harmful agents in food. Other OSU scientists are developing ways to neutralize bombs and to make munitions manufacturing more environmentally safe. Agricultural scientists have developed devices that allow farmers to apply exactly the right amount of chemicals to their land through sensor-guided machinery. OSU engineers also developed sensors to detect ice on bridges and to activate built-in melting devices.

A research group in CHES' Nutritional Sciences Department is studying the health benefits of supplements that may affect millions of people with osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, cholesterol problems, and hormone deficiency. In a three-month clinical study, soy protein benefited patients with osteoarthritis symptoms, and the group also observed that soy protein may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, particularly those not on hormone replacement therapy. They also found that soy supplements may be beneficial in the reduction and formation of cholesterol in postmenopausal women.

Other CHES scientists are working with the Naval Research Laboratory and a private contractor to develop body armor systems4.25 that provide protection against ballistic damage to the arms and legs, while minimizing heat stress and weight. The prototype suits are made of multiple layers of a commercially available ballistic cloth that offers protection from shrapnel thrown by grenades or improvised explosives. The latest prototype model includes a cooling system to keep soldiers from suffering thermal exhaustion and allows them to stay on duty longer.

OSU chemists and engineers also are working in the new field of nanotechnology, which may lead to innovations in many areas from electronics to medical treatments. OSU's engineering researchers are involved in a wide spectrum of other research. The areas include manufacturing processes, bioengineering, thermal systems, logistics and distribution, web handling, electronics, renewable energy systems, geothermal heat pumps, robotics, speech and audio processing, and ultra pure water.

Veterinary medicine researchers are studying issues that relate to the health and welfare of animals and humans. Some of these scientists are developing vaccines for tick-borne diseases. One scientist developed a vaccine for anaplasmosis, a blood parasite that invades the red blood cells of cattle and creates acute anemia in cattle, which can be disastrous to the cattle industry. Others have contributed valuable research to the equine industry, and still others are finding better ways to treat problems common to companion animals.

OSU's Oklahoma Food and Agricultural Products Research and Technology Center4.26 also provides a major facility for the development and testing of new food products for humans and animals. Entrepreneurs work with the center to develop new products, and many have been well received by consumers.

The previous examples are only a small sampling of the outstanding OSU intellectual inquiry that contributes significantly to a breadth of knowledge and skills valuable in the OSU community and the wider scientific, academic, and public arenas. Publications such as Vanguard4.27 that focus on research, scholarship, and creative activity at OSU provide a current glimpse of OSU research from across the system for on- and off-campus audiences.

While OSU already has many significant research initiatives, the university is making a concerted effort to expand its research programs by investing in new facilities and trying to attract the nation's top scientists. Plans are underway for a new five-story Science and Technology Center, which will dramatically improve research capabilities by providing state-of-the-art laboratories and other research space. Existing laboratories that are vacated when scientists move into the new center will be renovated. OSU-Tulsa will build an Advanced Technology Research Center that will focus on the development of next generation composites and materials for aerospace, biotechnology, telecommunications, and manufacturing industries. OSU also plans to become part of the Lambda Rail System, the nation's new high-speed communication network for scientific researchers.

General Education

OSU is committed to producing graduates who have a depth of knowledge in their major fields of study and a breadth of general knowledge to address issues in a complex society. OSU's general education program also fosters lifelong learning and personal growth experiences for its students. With a commitment to breadth in general education, the following philosophy was adopted in 2001:

“General education at Oklahoma State University provides students general knowledge, skills, and attitudes conducive to lifelong learning in a complex society. The breadth of general education requirements stimulates intellectual curiosity, original thought and expression, the capacity for critical analysis and problem solving, and the ability to make conscious value judgments consistent with personal needs and the public interest. General education helps graduates function in and appreciate the human and natural environment.”

The General Education Advisory Council4.28 (GEAC) is composed of representatives from each college and ex-officio members: the director of University Assessment and Testing (OAUT) and the director of Arts and Sciences Student Services. The associate vice president for undergraduate education chairs the group. GEAC is responsible for the general education goals, area designation criteria, the review of new courses applying for general education designation, and the five-year review of courses requesting continued general education designation. A General Education Assessment Committee, composed of faculty members, was formed by the Assessment Council and the OUAT.

The most important action taken by the GEAC in recent years has been the adoption of new criteria and goals for general education courses.4.29 In the summer of 2000, the General Education Assessment Committee reported to GEAC that OSU documents did not provide adequate information about the expected learning outcomes from the General Education Program. Two members of the assessment committee, who are also members of GEAC, drafted new “General Education Course Area Designations - Criteria and Goals.” The area designations remained, but the criteria and goals were radically changed. The draft document was presented to the GEAC, the Council of Deans, and the Assessment Council in the fall of 2000. After some changes, the new criteria and goals were adopted by GEAC.

The General Education Assessment Committee also developed an internet-based form that faculty use to submit requests for new general education designations and five-year reviews. This has allowed for the development of a database of general education courses.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE) mandates that every student who receives a baccalaureate degree must complete general education courses in four content areas: analytical and quantitative thought (A), humanities (H), social and behavioral sciences (S), and natural sciences (N). In addition, OSU students must complete an international dimension course (I) and a course that includes a lab component with scientific investigation (L). These area designations are described in the Criteria and Goals document linked above.

GEAC noted that its reports and the results from the National Survey of Student Engagement and institutional assessment of writing indicated that OSU students needed more writing experiences.4.30 Therefore, in February of 2004, the committee approved the addition of writing requirements for “H,” “S,” and “I” courses, effective for new courses in August 2004 and existing courses at the next five-year review. Faculty who teach “A,” “N,” and “L” courses will be asked to describe writing assignments that are appropriate to the discipline. GEAC plans to continue developing the general education database and web-based information, forms, and application process.

In regard to transferring general education courses from other institutions, OSRHE Policy and Procedures require that “If a student has completed general education... the receiving institution will recognize general education for all courses in which a reasonable equivalency... exists.” While institutional assessment results have not demonstrated a significant difference in performance of “native” and transfer students, GEAC plans to continue monitoring the performance of transfer students. Some assessment data indicate that OSU students may benefit from the addition of a diversity course in the general education curriculum. GEAC plans to begin reviewing this data after all the social and behavioral science “S” courses are reviewed in 2005. The review will indicate the number and type of approved general education courses that include an emphasis on issues related to diversity.

In summary, survey and assessment data indicate that OSU currently has a specific weakness in the general education program in terms of required writing, and improvements are being made in offerings for certain colleges. In addition, many believe that students must have more formal writing assignments in classes; therefore, the general education criteria and goals were changed to require more writing.

Discovery of Knowledge

All of OSU's graduate level academic programs include components that demonstrate that the discovery of knowledge is integral to educational programs. OSU faculty members are committed to a variety of research methodologies, plans for intellectual inquiry, and other aspects of the acquisition of knowledge. All graduate students are required to produce evidence of their intellectual inquiry through dissertations, theses, creative components, or reports.

All students and faculty are served by the OSU Edmon Low Library as it strives to provide the best services, strongest collections, and state-of-the-art information technologies for faculty, students, and staff. Over the past five years, the library has moved aggressively to provide desktop access to research tools and scholarly literature. Web-based interfaces provide “anytime, anywhere” access to more than 23,000 periodicals and approximately 200 indices and databases. The library's collections serve as the gateway to global research and scholarship as well as to a rich diversity of opinions and human experiences. The library supports faculty and student work by helping them integrate digital tools, such as electronic text and data support, and digitization of images and text. In addition, the library has undertaken projects to digitize many university materials to be of service to faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

OSU's Division of Student Affairs4.31 also participates in the development of breadth of knowledge and skills through encouragement of service learning, community service opportunities, staff development, and leadership development programs. The division encourages intellectual inquiry from participation in Camp Cowboy and ALPHA Week to involvement with student organizations and activities throughout a student's undergraduate career.

Travel Opportunities

Because OSU supports the acquisition of a breadth of knowledge and skills and intellectual inquiry, there are many opportunities for students to travel and learn in varied settings and cultural situations. Departments across the OSU campus offer opportunities for or require travel locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. For example, the School of Architecture conducts field trips regionally and nationally, and the SSB offers opportunities for students to spend summers studying on the East Coast. Other university entities make funds available for students to travel to scientific and professional conferences.

The National Student Exchange, administered through the Study Abroad Office, is a domestic reciprocal exchange program operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Canada. During the 2002-2003 academic year, 30 students participated in the program (20 outbound OSU students, 10 inbound students from other institutions).

OSU academic colleges offer summer and short-term faculty-led international courses that may last from two to eight weeks. Study abroad opportunities include CAS-sponsored literature classes at Oxford in England and art study in Italy, Spain, London, Paris, Rome, and Florence. CASNR students can study various agricultural and horticultural subjects in Scotland, London, Paris, France, Japan, Honduras, and Italy. SSB students can travel to London, Canada, and Mexico for study, while COE students can participate in a summer program in Costa Rica. CEAT offers courses in Japan, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, and CHES sponsors a program in Switzerland.

International study opportunities are offered and administered through the Study Abroad Office with assistance from the International Admissions Office. In the 2002-2003 academic year, 350 OSU students participated in international programs administered through the Study Abroad Office. In the same academic year, 446 students participated in reciprocal exchanges with 15 countries worldwide.

Core Component 4c

The organization assesses the usefulness of its curricula to students who will live and work in a global, diverse, and technological society.

Every OSU graduate and undergraduate program is assessed through plans developed by faculty and staff, incorporated into university-wide assessment, and designed for feedback into program development. The overall assessment plan includes entry-level, general education, program outcomes, and alumni components.

Assessment Methods

As explained in other areas of this report, the Office of University Assessment and Testing (OUAT) oversees programs in four primary areas of assessment: entry-level, general education, program outcomes, and student and alumni satisfaction.4.32 Assessment at OSU occurs at all levels within the institution, from hundreds of assessment projects at the individual college and program levels to assessments focused on the entire student body, or on issues of concern to the central administration.

The associate vice president for undergraduate education oversees OSU's assessment program, by chairing the faculty's Assessment Council,4.33 supervising the director of OUAT, and communicating assessment information to campus leaders. The Assessment Council guides university-wide assessment efforts and monitors the use of student assessment fee money to support assessment initiatives at the university-, college-, and academic program-levels and coordinates annual reporting and dissemination of assessment information. The Office of Institutional Research and Information Management4.34 works closely with OUAT to administer entry-level assessment and provide data for all other assessment areas. The Division of Student Affairs coordinates assessments within student affairs units and service areas. Office of Undergraduate Admissions4.35 and the OSU Bureau for Social Research4.36 also assist in collecting assessment data at the university level.

At the program level, administrators and faculty members within each academic unit assess student achievement of expected program outcomes. For purposes of program outcomes assessment, an academic unit may refer to a college, school, department, or degree program. Each OSU academic unit has an outcomes assessment plan and a faculty assessment coordinator who is responsible for guiding outcomes assessment. Each academic unit submits annual assessment reports, which are included in the OUAT's annual report to the OSRHE.

General Education Assessment

OSU's general education assessment program4.37 has been developed under the direction of three faculty groups: the General Education Assessment Committee, the Assessment Council, and the General Education Advisory Council. The program uses three tools to evaluate student achievement of the expected learning outcomes for general education and the effectiveness of the general education curriculum: institutional portfolios, a general education course content database, and university-wide surveys. General education assessment is guided by the university's mission statement and the purpose of general education as articulated in the OSU catalog.

The institutional portfolio represents a holistic approach to general education assessment. The assessment is not aimed at individual courses, departments, or faculty. Rather, it evaluates work (artifacts) produced by students in their OSU courses to gauge students' success in achieving the institution's general education learner goals. The student work has no identifying information, so the process protects student anonymity. The process is minimally intrusive to faculty, is transparent to students, and utilizes work that is already produced in general education courses and other courses throughout the undergraduate curriculum. Groups of faculty members evaluate the work in each portfolio relative to the learner goals using standardized scoring rubrics. The results measure the extent to which students are achieving OSU's general education competencies.

Separate portfolios are being developed to evaluate each general education learner goal. The portfolios developed to date assess students' written communications skills (data collection in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005), math problem-solving skills (data collection in 2002, 2003, 2005) science problem-solving skills (data collection in 2003, 2004, 2005), and critical thinking (data collection 2005). Data collection, as well as the development of rubrics to assess additional skills, is ongoing. Assessment of students' understanding of and respect for diversity in people, beliefs, and societies will be addressed in the coming years.

The General Education Course Database4.38 is a tool for evaluating how each general education course aligns with the overall expected learning outcomes for the general education program. Instructors submit their course information online via a web-based form, and the General Education Advisory Council reviews the information during regular course reviews. The course information includes the general education learning goals associated with the course, the opportunities the course provides for students to achieve these goals, and the methods for assessing student achievement. When completed, the database will provide a useful tool for holistically evaluating general education course offerings and the extent to which the overall general education goals are targeted across the curriculum.

University-wide surveys, such as the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the College Student Survey, and Alumni Surveys, provide indirect measures of the extent to which students have achieved general education competencies; this information supports evidence from the institutional portfolios. For example, OSU's NSSE data, which revealed that OSU seniors wrote fewer papers than seniors at peer institutions, corroborated results of the written communication skills institutional portfolio and contributed to the decision to increase the standards for writing assignments in humanities, social science, and international dimension general education courses.

In addition to these university-level assessments of general education learner goals, many individual academic programs incorporate general education or mid-level assessment of writing, mathematics, science, problem solving, and critical thinking skills into their program outcomes assessment.

Program Outcomes Assessment

All OSU degree programs, undergraduate and graduate, must have an outcomes assessment plan.4.39 Assessment activity for each degree program is described in an annual assessment report.4.40 Assessment plans and reports may be submitted by colleges, schools, departments, or individuals depending on the organizational level that faculty members have chosen to use for assessment. The Assessment Council reviews all assessment plans and reports on a three-year cycle. Academic units use a broad range of assessment methods, which are described in detail in Criterion Three.

Student and Alumni Satisfaction Assessment

Student and alumni surveys evaluate participants' perceptions of academic and campus programs and services and allow students to report their use and perception. These surveys complement program outcomes assessment by providing feedback for use in continuing quality improvement.

The Graduate Student Satisfaction Survey is conducted in alternate years by the Graduate College. The target population is all OSU graduate students who are enrolled during the semester the survey is conducted. In fall 2004, from a 3,919 person target population, 2,537 graduate students participated in the survey (65% response rate). The survey included 31 questions and was administered as a telephone interview by the Bureau for Social Research.

OSU Alumni Surveys are conducted every year, with undergraduate and graduate program alumni being surveyed in alternate years. The purpose of these surveys is to identify institutional strengths and areas for improvement, to track the careers and continuing education of recent OSU graduates, and to assess achievement of learning outcomes as perceived by alumni from individual academic programs. These surveys target alumni who are one and five years post-graduation. They include common questions that cover employment and career issues, continued education, and general satisfaction. They also include program-specific questions for the purpose of assessing program outcomes, as well as alumni satisfaction. OUAT coordinates the alumni surveys. The OSU Bureau for Social Research conducts the surveys through telephone interviews with alumni.

Results of alumni surveys are widely distributed to faculty and administrators at the college and university levels. Specific changes resulting from the surveys are discussed in outcomes assessment reports for individual academic programs. All OSU programs have begun to use results of the annual alumni surveys in the five-year academic program reviews coordinated by Academic Affairs and, where applicable, as part of professional accreditation self-studies and reports. For many academic programs, the alumni surveys are now a cornerstone of their outcomes assessment efforts, and results are regularly used in curriculum planning.

The NSSE obtains information about participation in programs and activities provided for learning and personal development. Results provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college. The NSSE enables comparison between OSU and peer institutions in areas of academic challenge, student involvement in active and collaborative learning, student interaction with faculty, educational experiences, and campus environment. The NSSE also includes items related to student satisfaction. OSU participated in the NSSE in 2000, 2002, and 2005.4.41

The 2000 and 2002 NSSE survey results have stimulated a great deal of conversation among OSU leaders and faculty groups and an unprecedented amount of action resulting from a university-wide survey. One reason is that the NSSE succinctly targets academic quality issues of great concern to faculty members and issues that can be directly tied to program-level curriculum planning. The NSSE also provides data on areas of interest for program accreditation.

CHES and COE are taking steps to collect more NSSE survey data from their students to have sufficient sample sizes to evaluate student engagement at the program level and to make program-level changes as needed. COE, for example, included additional NSSE-type questions that probed more deeply into diversity issues, an area of concern for that college's NCATE accreditation. SSB conducted a similar local version of the NSSE in spring 2004. These colleges developed faculty working groups to examine their college-level results from the 2000 and 2002 NSSE survey. These groups also developed a local version of the survey to meet their programming concerns and analyzed results from these locally administered surveys. In addition to these college-level responses, a few individual academic programs, such as those in the Zoology Department, are integrating NSSE survey questions into their existing senior surveys to obtain larger sample sizes and more meaningful results on topics of particular concern.

The Noel-Levitz, Inc. Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) is administered each year on the OSU-Tulsa campus because of its rapid growth in enrollment. This survey provides an effective means for monitoring students' perceptions of programs and services and for incorporating their feedback into the development of programs and services on that campus. The SSI measures student satisfaction using 12 composite scales: academic advising effectiveness, campus climate, campus life, campus support services, concern for the individual, instructional effectiveness, recruitment and financial aid effectiveness, registration effectiveness, responsiveness to diverse populations, safety and security, service excellence, and student centeredness. The results enable comparison with other institutions and year-to-year comparisons within the institution.

Assessment is funded through a per-credit-hour fee. Each academic unit within the university may request internal funds to support its assessment efforts. In many cases, this assessment has included research assistantships for students working with faculty members to conduct the various elements of assessment.

Implementation of program improvements based upon assessment is the responsibility of the unit managing the assessment plan. Program directors can learn about assessment methods being used effectively by other programs by reviewing published outcomes assessment reports.

Criterion 4d

The organization provides support to ensure that faculty, students, and staff acquire, discover, and apply knowledge responsibly.

Various OSU administrative units assist in creating an environment that encourages the responsible discovery, acquisition, and application of knowledge through efforts to make faculty, staff, and students aware of the values of such an environment. All of these units maintain websites that are regularly updated with information about OSU policies in regard to such issues as scientific misconduct, intellectual property rights, use of human subjects, use and care of animal subjects, plagiarism, sexual discrimination, and disability services. In addition, these offices provide printed documents, seminars, and consulting services.

Institutional Support for Applying Knowledge Responsibly

The Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President4.42 distributes information concerning intellectual property in the form of the Faculty Handbook,4.43 which summarizes policies relating to patents, copyrights, and charges of academic misconduct/dishonesty. Students are made aware of the policies on academic integrity (including proper citation of work) in the Student Rights and Responsibilities document. The Office of Academic Affairs also distributes a syllabus attachment4.44 with a brief summary of policies and encourages all faculty members to include it, or similar statements, in every syllabus.

In spring 2004, the Provost appointed a Committee on Academic Integrity to revise the policy on academic integrity and to plan educational campaigns for faculty, staff, and students to raise awareness of the responsibility for academic integrity. A survey of faculty, teaching assistants, and students documented behaviors and perceptions related to academic integrity. Results were shared with a variety of constituents, including Faculty Council, the Council of Deans, Student Government Association, and other student groups.

Research compliance has been centralized as a separate department within the Division of Research, and resources have been provided for staffing and providing administrative support to the individual compliance committees. OSU's Office of University Research Compliance4.45 (OURC) is responsible for promoting integrity in several research-related areas. Among these are management of conflicts of interest issues, use of human subjects, use and care of animal subjects, and management of research using biohazardous materials, radiation, and research lasers. The Conflict of Interest4.46 policy requires that investigators submit conflict of interest documents only when they apply to federal programs requiring evidence of this disclosure. The individual colleges' research offices ensure that their faculties are aware of this responsibility. The focus is on appropriate disclosure and management of conflicts. Timely disclosure of conflicts and the development, implementation, and oversight of a plan to manage these conflicts are essential. It is expected that a draft of a revised conflict of interest policy will be completed and accepted in 2005.

As required by OSU Policies and Procedures Letter 4-0125,4.47 an investigation was recently conducted into the allegations of scientific misconduct against a faculty member. The initial inquiry and subsequent formal investigation were conducted according to the policy and within the time frame required by the policy. The details of the reports of the inquiry and investigation committees are confidential. The faculty member is no longer teaching at Oklahoma State University.

Responsibility in acquisition, discovery, and application of knowledge is further demonstrated in policy related to patents and copyrights. In 1995, the Oklahoma State Legislature authorized revenue sharing with the creator of patented inventions, copyrighted publications, and sales of equity shares in the sale of companies established as a result of inventions and copyrights. OSU's intellectual property policy allows researchers to receive 50% of the royalties earned from inventions and copyrights. Twenty-one patents have been issued since 1999. The patenting process is facilitated through the Office of Intellectual Property Management4.48 (IPM).

IPM assists college research offices and the Office of University Research Services4.49 (OURS) in reviewing intellectual property clauses in sponsored research agreements and confidentiality agreements. Assistance may include conversations with staff and/or principal investigator(s) involved in a research project, as well as rewriting and/or negotiating intellectual property clauses on behalf of OSU. In addition, IPM has presented seminars to familiarize faculty, staff, and students with their rights and responsibilities. For example, OSU's outside patent counsel presented a two-part intellectual property seminar. The first part addressed, “Considerations in the Patenting of University R&D,” and the second part addressed, “Strategies in the Commercialization of University R&D.” IPM also provided a seminar titled, “Hot Topics in Intellectual Property and University R&D,” in April 2004. A fall 2004 seminar addressed confidentiality issues with respect to university research and development. IPM plans to present at least two of these types of seminars annually. As part of OSU Research Week each spring,4.50 IPM also participates in a public forum, which entails a group of activities sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer.

OSU's Office of University Research Compliance4.51 oversees several committees whose responsibilities are dictated by federal legislation and university policy. Human subject research is overseen by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Animal care and use is governed by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Centralizing the burdensome administrative functions has freed the IRB and IACUC chairs and committees to be much more involved with the investigators as they develop and research protocols. The review process has been streamlined through the use of information technology. The overall philosophy of the OURC is that compliance is an integral feature in the responsible conduct of research. The OURC helps investigators understand their compliance responsibilities and the steps to accomplish them. Information is disseminated in a variety of ways. OURC sends letters to department heads at least annually offering to make presentations in individual classes or departmental meetings. Training modules have been developed in-house and are linked via the internet to quality programs offered by the oversight entities and other universities.

A number of actions have been taken to improve OURC's effectiveness. The compliance budget has been increased each year for the past five years. Currently, both the IRB and the IACUC are engaged in a self-study in preparation for accreditation. The OURC and CAS paid to have a course developed in the “Responsible Conduct of Research.” Modules can be used as a full course or individually. Core areas such as data ownership, conflict of interest, and scientific misconduct are emphasized, and other existing training about using human subjects and animal models is included. The course has been well received and serves as a model course in the responsible conduct of research. The OURC also has employed experts from other universities to present seminars to faculty, staff, and administrators on the rights and responsibilities of research using humans and animals. Currently, OURC's staff is benchmarking other universities' IRBs for best practices.

The Student Conduct Office4.52 publishes Student Rights and Responsibilities (R&R) Governing Student Behavior, which summarizes the OSU Academic Misconduct and Dishonesty Policy.4.53 The dishonesty policy includes a definition for plagiarism. The R&R document is distributed to students through the Daily O'Collegian, and copies are placed in the college student academic services offices across campus. The office also distributes a brochure regarding academic dishonesty for students and one for faculty. Presentations about academic dishonesty are made to freshmen orientation classes in several colleges.

Support for Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge

Support for the responsible acquisition, discovery, and application of knowledge can take a variety of forms, including policy, funding, personnel, assigned or released time, technology, and more.

As stated earlier, OSU's excellent undergraduate Wentz Scholarship program allows students to compete for funds to undertake a research project with a faculty mentor. In addition, several other support programs exist for students to acquire and discover knowledge.

The Graduate College conducts Training in the Professoriate Seminars4.54 (TIPS) each year for faculty and graduate assistants, one component of which addresses research topics and publication. In addition, the OURS seminar titled, “Research Fundamentals for Faculty,” is geared toward new faculty and describes OSU research policies and procedures.

In 2004-2005, the VPR hired a consultant for a two-day seminar to train new researchers, both faculty and students, in proposal preparation. In addition, a semester-long workshop was offered to about 30 researchers nominated by college deans. Each participant was required to prepare a research proposal.

Some colleges have added to these centralized programs. For example, COE has internally funded a faculty development series during several recent years. These programs have primarily offered seminars for less experienced faculty members or graduate students and have had varying success in meeting faculty needs. Records indicate that faculty and students from several colleges and other units attended these developmental sessions.

Early in their academic careers at OSU, students are introduced through orientation programs to the library and its range of services. Similarly, new faculty scholars are provided training on library services. The library strives to be a place where everyone is free to pursue knowledge without fear of disclosure or censorship. The library collaborates with faculty to facilitate long-term preservation of their scholarly output and its availability to scholars worldwide by addressing issues of copyright, compliance with electronic publishing and archival standards, and evolving technology. At the same time, emphasis is placed on educational efforts concerning copyright and other intellectual property issues. Library faculty members have a substantial record of participation in state and national initiatives addressing library and information issues.

By OSU policy, work loads are determined at the departmental level within the general guidelines of Policy and Procedure Letter 2-0110.4.55 That workload is defined as including (1) teaching, (2) research, and (3) service. However, there is tremendous variation in individual workloads. In some units, it is common to find faculty members who teach three or four regular courses per semester, while faculty members at the same rank in other units may have no assigned teaching loads. Within the framework of Policy and Procedure Letter 2-0110, all faculty members are expected to participate in the acquisition, discovery, and application of knowledge.

In recent years, the university announced a seed-grant program. Several investigators spent a substantial amount of time developing proposals. Although some proposals were approved for funding, and the respective scholars notified, funding for all these projects was subsequently cancelled because of budget cuts.

Some colleges provide internal competitive monies to assist with research. As an example, COE and CHES include offices of research support to provide management and accounting services to faculty involved in grant and contract programs. In addition, COE has offered a competitive incentive grant program to faculty. This program has varied in funding levels and participation over the past several years, but has excluded salary support for faculty.

The Dean's Incentive Grant (DIG) program in CAS is more than 20 years old and provides limited funds (currently $3,000) to new faculty members in their first two years at OSU as start-up funding for their research programs.

Going beyond incentive programs, the CAS Summer Research program provides one month of summer salary for research activities (collecting preliminary data in advance of writing a grant proposal, preparing a grant proposal, finishing manuscripts, etc.). This program is open to any CAS faculty member, and awards are made based on a short proposal. A companion program provides an additional $1,000 for research-related travel.

One indicator of inadequate support for scholars in acquisition, discovery, and application of knowledge has been the limited funding for graduate research assistants. Funding for graduate assistants, whether for teaching or research, has fared similarly to funding for faculty salaries. Currently, many programs at OSU are finding that graduate assistant stipends and related benefits are between 50-60% of those packages available for graduate assistants at peer institutions. In some colleges, research assistants have been funded only through grant programs. If a faculty member has not been successful in acquiring grant and contract funds, no graduate research assistance is available.

The OSU administration acknowledges that there are many challenges across all colleges. These include the need to enhance fellowship dollars and assistantship monies. The administration hopes to address these needs as more funds become available.

Criterion Four Conclusion


  1. OSU is committed to the scholarly development of students, staff, faculty, and administration and to the provision of programs that promote that development.
  2. National and international recognition for numerous scholarly activities span the spectrum from advanced faculty research to student engagement in general education.
  3. Strong scholar support for students is shown through the Office of Scholar Development and Recognition.
  4. The Institute for Teaching and Learning Excellence provides support for a variety of scholarly activities that promote excellent teaching and learning effectiveness.

Challenges: Actions for Going Forward

  1. Improve aspects of the general education courses identified through general education assessment.
    ACTION: Use the faculty governance structure involving General Education Assessment Committee, Assessment Council, and Faculty Council, to work in conjunction to increase funding for and promote improvement in general education courses.
  2. Increase the effectiveness of programs that provide opportunity for scholarly activities for students, including study abroad programs and participation in internships.
    ACTION:The Study Abroad Office and Career Services should dedicate the time, effort, and money necessary to the programs that support these experiences so that these activities become the norm at OSU.
  3. Locate the necessary funding for the scholarly network essential to support and produce excellent research.
    ACTION:Set as a high priority investment in the support of scholarly activities, such as competitive stipends for graduate assistantships and expansion of the library's collection and subscriptions.


Criterion Four

Table of Contents

Criterion Four: Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge


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