In 2000, NSU engaged in a university-wide exploration of values and institutional identity, culminating in an identifying theme of "beyond the classroom," the latter reflecting both the accomplishments and the sustained commitments of the university to extend the learning experience outside the classroom. Building upon NSU's emergent identity, in 2001, President Ferrero involved the academic deans in a continued examination of institutional goals. This exercise generated an enhanced focus and consensus around an evolving set of interests and priorities, many related to enriching and enhancing student learning.
In 2002, President Ferrero initiated a comprehensive review of future growth plans developed by the academic units, culminating in a revised assessment of growth patterns that are responsive to core areas of need and institutional interest. Girded by an enhanced sense of institutional identity, and informed by consensus on critical directions for growth, in 2003, President Ferrero engaged the entire university community in defining planning priorities for the future. As reflected in the report generated from the retreat, President Ferrero challenged the university community to seek preeminence across all academic programs and urged faculty and administrators alike to seek innovative ways to ensure and enrich student engagement. A number of compelling areas of focus for institutional resources and attention emerged from the 2003 retreats. These subsequently took shape as Essential Planning Priorities, the core planning components that define the university's Strategic Plan 2005.
The Essential Planning Priorities (EPPs) were established to "direct energy, resources, and accountability to the plan." Enrichment and enhancement reflect their overall thrust. The EPPs provide the foundation upon which the QEP naturally emerged. NSU's QEP is most directly responsive to the first three of the EPPs:
During the spring and summer of 2005, academic leadership at the university worked to develop a QEP topic that weaves these three priorities into a central theme that would be relevant for all NSU centers. That theme, Enhancing Student Academic Engagement, is realized by three components:
In the fall of 2005, a QEP Committee composed of faculty from around the university was established, and began work on operationalizing the plan within each academic unit. Through within-center deliberations and cross-center conversations in committee, over the winter and spring of 2006 individual centers determined the nature of their realization of NSU's QEP topic.
During the summer and fall of 2006, the committee worked with NSU's Office of Institutional Effectiveness to compile the University QEP document, a draft of which was submitted to the SACS Commission on Colleges in October 2006. The committee continued to refine the draft throughout the fall, based on feedback from the Commission and the university community. A final draft was approved by NSU's SACS Leadership Team and submitted to the Commission in January 2007.
In February 2007, the final draft was sent to the appointed members of NSU's SACS On-Site Committee, comprised of evaluators from peer institutions throughout the SACS region. The On-Site Committee subsequently visited NSU's main campus in March 2007 to assess NSU's QEP, a singularly important requirement of NSU's reaffirmation of accreditation. The On-Site Committee issued a report in May 2007 addressing the QEP along with other components of the university's overall reaffirmation.
NSU submitted a response to the Commission on Colleges in August 2007, providing clarification on several components of the plan, as well as on several other areas related to NSU's reaffirmation. NSU is anticipating final approval of the QEP by the Commission on Colleges at the Annual SACS Meeting in December 2007, as part of the 10-year reaffirmation of NSU's SACS accreditation.