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IV. General Results of Self-Study Related to Four Standards and Criteria for Review

Standard 1: Defining Institutional Purposes and Ensuring Educational Objectives

Institutional Purpose and Educational Integrity

The mission and the vision guide all strategic planning and decision-making processes at the Naval Postgraduate School. Both institutional capacity and educational effectiveness are measured against the backdrop of the NPS mission and vision, which serve as the basis for development and review of curriculum as well as its business practices and processes. For example, proposed curricula are reviewed, approved and funded based on the fit with mission and vision. The move to develop a substantial distributed learning program in both master's and certificates was based on the vision. [CFR 1.1,1.2, 1.3]

Since its inception as a graduate school for the Department of the Navy in 1909, NPS has been in a unique position to provide postgraduate education in academic areas clearly supporting defense and national security. Faculty, staff and students are aware of the mission of the Naval Postgraduate School because of its immediacy to operational readiness and the service that NPS provides to all Armed Forces, our global partners, the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy. All education and research conducted at the Naval Postgraduate School is focused on the enhancement of national security. [CFR 1.2]

At the same time, NPS is committed to academic freedom and the ability of faculty to publish and disseminate their research, as stated in the Faculty Handbook. (24) It is a hallmark of NPS faculty that they seek collaboration and multi-disciplinary research, not just across the campus, but also throughout the world. This can be seen in our many partnerships "” with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries, as a Partnership for Peace education and training center, the distribution of Homeland Security curricula to universities all over the U.S., and more. [CFR 1.4]

The faculty controls the planning, delivery and oversight of all curricula. Curriculum committees are found in the departments, and the Academic Council oversees final approval of new programs. Each degree awarded is also reviewed and approved by the Academic Council. Policies affecting faculty are clearly set forth in the Faculty Handbook and the Policy Regarding Appointment, Promotion, Salary, and Tenure of Office. (25) [CFR 2.4]

NPS is working diligently to operate in a more efficient and effective manner, having identified operational support both as a main WASC theme and a goal of the new strategic plan. Efforts have been underway to review functional processes, identify best practices and implement recommendations, which will result in more accountability and transparency in operations. Theme Three further highlights the importance that NPS places on its operational and institutional integrity, recognizing it as an ongoing process that takes precedence in the planning, assessment, and review cycle. [CFR1.8]

Diversity in faculty, staff and student populations is an area that the campus is striving to better understand and document. The academic disciplines that make up NPS were traditionally male-dominated. Over the past 10 years, however, departments and Schools have made increased gender diversity a priority in hiring. As a result, the faculty has gone from 12 percent female in 2000, to 18 percent female in 2007. Ethnic and cultural diversity among the faculty was made somewhat more problematic in the post-9/11 environment with the temporary elimination of the hiring of international faculty. That restriction was lifted and cultural diversity is expected to increase in faculty hiring, and efforts toward that goal are being strengthened. [CFR 1.5]

The NPS staff has become more diverse over time, with 54 percent females in 2007, up from 45 percent in 2000, and 48 percent minorities in 2007, up from 33 percent in 2000. In addition, there have been shifts in the numbers of staff directly employed by NPS. Decreases have occurred for several reasons including regionalization of some functional areas and the use of contracts to hire qualified staff more quickly than possible through standard federal employment mechanisms.

One of the distinctive features that sets NPS apart from nearly all other institutions is that officers of all U.S. armed services and the armed services of many other countries come together in NPS classrooms and laboratories. The student body reflects the diversity of the military populations from which they are drawn. Graduates of NPS report that diversity in service, culture and ethnicity greatly enhanced their educational experience. NPS continues to build international programs with other institutions, such as the University of Singapore, the Korean National Defense University and the German-Jordanian University's Talal Abu-Ghazaleh College of Business. [CFR 1.5]
 

Standard 2: Achieving Educational Objectives through Core Functions

Teaching and Learning

The Naval Postgraduate School is committed to providing its resident, international, distributed learning and government civilian students with an environment that reflects NPS's academic standards of excellence. To achieve this goal, the Naval Postgraduate School employs nearly 600 faculty, all of whom have a Ph.D., terminal degree and/or demonstrated expertise in their particular fields. [CFR 2.1]

There are currently 52 resident curricula leading to master's and doctoral degrees; 13 non-resident curricula leading to master's degrees; and 14 certificate curricula. These curricula originate when a need for military officers educated in a particular discipline is identified. Academic degrees may be granted within the framework of a curriculum. For example, a Masters of Mechanical Engineering may be earned within the curricula of Undersea Warfare or Space Systems Engineering or a number of other curricula. (26) Generally, when a curriculum is designed, a set of learning objectives, the Educational Skill Requirements (ESRs), is identified. The learning objectives of each curricula are found in the online academic catalog, updated each quarter. The curricular review process, described in detail under Theme Two, is a periodic evaluation by faculty as well as senior military officers to determine the continuing relevance of the content. The Academic Program Review process, also described under Theme Two, evaluates each program for academic rigor, currency of subject matter, and adequacy of resources provided. Since students come to NPS not from undergraduate education, but directly from military service, refresher courses are provided to update key skill and knowledge sets before graduate-level work commences. [CFR2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6]

Survey results from graduating students show that 95 percent had active interaction with and access to NPS professors, from course studies to thesis/capstone projects, and that this is one of the most valuable benefits of securing an education at NPS. (27) Teaching assistants rarely teach classes; NPS students are taught directly by the faculty, who are experts in their field. Because of the interaction between NPS and the local higher education and research community, students can also work together with scholars from the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, Monterey Institute of International Studies, the Naval Research Laboratory and more.
 

Scholarship and Creative Activity

NPS strives to support and encourage the creative and scholarly activities of its faculty, recognizing the importance of research in the Promotion and Tenure process. The NPS faculty is involved in a wide range of scholarly activities beyond the classroom and the confines of their research laboratories, writing and publishing in peer-reviewed journals as well as producing patents, books and book chapters, and contributions to proceedings of professional societies. The faculty is active in national and international professional associations, and NPS faculty members belong to various national academies. Because of NPS's position within the Department of Defense, NPS faculty members are frequently called to the nation's capital to brief Congress, military officials, and the Executive Branch, including the President of the U.S. Likewise, faculty travel abroad to serve on visiting task forces and provide professional consultative services to allied nations. Members of the NPS faculty are frequently interviewed by global media because of their relevant and highly focused insight on the many issues facing the U.S. in a global environment. [CFR 2.8]

NPS provides funding to new tenure-track faculty during their first two years. Titled the Research Initiation Program (RIP), funding is provided for release time as well as equipment, supplies and travel to assist new faculty in establishing or transitioning to a research program supportive of the NPS graduate education mission. Since 2000, RIP has increased from supporting 7 faculty at a funding level of $0.4 million, to 29 faculty supported in 2008 at a level of $2.5 million. [CFR 2.9]

As a graduate university, professionally active faculty members are expected to extend their scholarship directly into their classrooms and research areas"”providing an integrated approach to teaching that is more effective and relevant as it relates current issues to national security; therefore, scholars at NPS are actively engaged in service to the DoD through advisory boards or Integrated Project Teams. Many NPS faculty serve on National Academy of Sciences panels, and as advisors and mentors for the National Research Council, American Society for Engineering Education, and Engineer and Science Exchange. NPS faculty members are active in their discipline societies and can often be found as organizing members for national and international conferences. While the majority of NPS-sponsored activity is for the DoD (66 percent), NPS faculty members are also successful in competitive awards from agencies such as the National Science Foundation. Collaborative research with non-government activities (industry, universities, and state governments) has increased ten-fold in recent years. [CFR 2.9]

While the Naval Postgraduate School has four graduate Schools as the supporting pillars, three institutes were established in 2001 to integrate research and learning within a multi-disciplinary focus. The initial three institutes focused on systems engineering; information superiority and innovation; and modeling and simulation. A fourth institute, formed in 2007 with partners Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California Santa Barbara, focuses on research and education in support of national security and homeland security. NPS also hosts 26 Centers of Excellence ranging from Information Operations to Remotely Piloted Aircraft. [CFR 2.8]

Support for Student Learning

A broad range of support services to assist students with their academic programs is provided through the department and program offices across the campus. Additional offices are dedicated to the special needs of military, international and graduate students. Staff assistance is described below [CFR 2.12, 2.13]:

Research and Sponsored Programs Office

The Research and Sponsored Programs Office (RSPO) provides direct support to students as they are conducting their research through:

  • facilitation of a student research fellowship program
  • provision of travel funding to support thesis research or conference travel (if student does not have support from a faculty Principal Investigator)
  • assistance to all resident and non-resident students on achieving a publishable thesis
  • provision of thesis editors for all international students and editor referrals for U.S. students
  • creation of a writing center to assist students and improve written and oral communication and presentation skills. [CFR 2.13]

The International Graduate Program Office (IGPO)

The IGPO at NPS serves as an integral link in establishing long-term, military-to-military relationships between U.S. and international officers. The IGPO is responsible for cultural, social and academic integration of the international military students and their families. IGPO staff provides information and assistance daily on a wide variety of issues and activities, ranging from medical and dental, housing, DMV, Social Security registration, income verifications, technical assistance for visa/passport renewals, ID card applications, furniture loan program, textbooks, thesis formatting and editing assistance, and English as a Second Language support. [CFR 2.13]


Student Services

The Office of Student Services facilitates all military administrative processes and ensures that proper documentation, leave processing, promotions, etc. are carried out. Student Services provides initial student orientation and ensures a smooth transition from various duty assignments to the campus environment. Student Services assists with housing, medical issues, family advocacy issues and other areas, allowing students to concentrate primarily on their education and research. [CFR 2.11, 2.12]

To monitor and improve services in all areas, a set of student needs and satisfaction surveys have been developed. The first of these, the Graduating Student Survey, has been administered quarterly for nearly two years. (27) The New Student Survey is due to be initiated in the first quarter of Academic Year 2009. (28) The Mid-Term Student Survey is currently under construction. (29) Students developed these last two surveys as part of a survey research course in conjunction with the Office of Institutional Research. A report series on these surveys is also currently under construction. [CFR 4.5]

Because students come to NPS primarily for graduate degrees, students participate in a rigorous and active research community. A thesis or capstone project is required to earn the graduate degree and, in keeping with its mission, student research is relevant to the defense and security arenas. In the graduating student survey, 85 percent of students see completion of the thesis or capstone project as a valuable part of their education, and 75 percent think their thesis or capstone project made a valuable contribution to a national security need. (27)

The Dudley Knox Library provides a unique combination of print and online resources and patron services that directly support the research and instructional needs of NPS students, faculty, and staff. The Library does this in both "public" as well as "classified" subject areas with a focus on 24/7 access to current and archival journals and databases. More than 85 percent of the library content is available online because, wherever possible, the Library leverages limited dollars into consortial licenses with other Department of the Navy, Department of Defense and federal libraries. Successful partnerships with campus constituents such as ITACS and the Office of Continuous Learning (OCL) also expand the reach of campus investments in systems and access to content and technology, which focus on providing a robust, information-rich environment that promotes distributed, lifelong learning. [CFR 2.13]

Library instruction programs address the multi-cultural and multi-lingual requirements that adult learners face when they return to graduate school after years in the workforce. In 2007 alone, the Library reached more than 2,600 students through 168 instructional sessions ("public" and "classified" versions) covering such topics as "Thesis Quick Start," "Searching the Invisible or Deep Web," or topical presentations like "DTIC's STINET (Defense Technical Information Center's Scientific and Technical Information Network)." Librarians are active participants in all aspects of the NPS student life"”resident and distant, instruction and research. Librarians are invited into the classroom to talk about specific resources supporting individual curricular programs; offer general sessions in the Library; and reach distance learners in person (by traveling to the course site), via online tools and VTE, as well as through recorded sessions and presentations streamed from the Library website. The Library is fully vested in providing content, instruction, and services that meet the needs of students anywhere, anytime. [CFR 2.13]

Information Technology and Communications Services (ITACS) provides support for student learning in education and research experience through a variety of technology and communication resources. These include support for nearly 800 software packages and technology tools, as well as support for 80 classrooms, 18 Learning Resource Centers, 7 conference rooms, 10 scheduled labs, 6 library collaboration spaces, and 5 large venue facilities. Direct support of 7 VTE classrooms is provided; this includes approximately 50 courses per quarter including more than 50 distant geographic sites. Approximately 120 hours of instructional content per week is captured and made available to students on demand. Streaming media capabilities also permit video capture of special events on campus (e.g., guest lectures, public events, etc.). The classrooms and laboratories are supported through an annual Educational Technology Inventory and Life Cycle Management Plan. (30, 31) [CFR 2.13, 3.6]

Support for student education and research is provided through the Technology Assistance Center, a help desk established by ITACS to respond to constituent needs. ITACS also sponsors a series of short courses, with topics and agendas developed based on user requests. [CFR 2.13, 3.6]

An important component of graduate education and research in a research university involves high-speed network access and access to global educational resources. Maintaining Internet access through Cal-REN, the state's higher education network, ensures state-of- the-art linkages with resources around the world. The special nature of research at NPS also requires the support of classified networks and technical resources. Use of High Performance Computing (HPC) is growing on campus, and support for access to those resources is increasing, both on campus and at other HPC sites around the country. NPS researchers and staff are engaged in a project with University of California campuses at Los Angeles and Santa Barbara to build a grid environment, permitting seamless sharing of HPC resources. The cornerstone of ITACS services is in its partnerships; these include partnerships with academic departments, the Office of Continuous Learning, the Dudley Knox Library, industry, and other universities, laboratories and federal and international organizations. [CFR 3.6, 3.7]

The Information Technology Plan provides a five-year framework for technology and services planning. (32) The IT Task Force, a broadly representative group of faculty, staff and students provides user input and feedback on all policies and practices considered for adoption by NPS. (33)

Standard 3: Developing and Applying Resources and Organizational Structures to Ensure Sustainability

Faculty and Staff

Being responsible stewards of the Naval Postgraduate School's fiscal, physical, human and information resources is the foundation that allows NPS to meet its strategic goals and advance its mission. The foundation of all successful functions of NPS rests with a highly qualified faculty and staff. Recruitment and retention of both have become a primary focus for the institution. The Human Resources Office at NPS administers the hiring of staff and faculty. Potential faculty candidates are vetted through the recruitment and hiring process as set forth in the Faculty Handbook. (24) Qualified prospective staff members are referred through the Department of Navy civilian hiring and recruitment online system. All applicants are subject to interviews, often by a committee. The Human Resources Office also provides orientation for all new staff members. (34) [CFR 3.1, 3.2, 3.3]

Acknowledging that graduate programs in particular require a high level of faculty support, NPS has increased the number of faculty from 464 in 2002, to 606 in 2007 as its research and educational areas have expanded. The student to faculty ratio is 9.5:1, which compares favorably to other research institutions (e.g., the UC Berkeley ratio is 10:1). [CFR 3.2]

NPS has a rigorous faculty recruitment process. Advertisements are widely disseminated in major national publications, as well as discipline-specific publications and media. Every effort is made to recruit from as diverse a candidate pool as possible. Particular attention is given to coordinate the timing of searches with key professional association meetings in order to reach the broadest possible candidate pool. Search committees typically identify targets of opportunity and invite highly qualified candidates to apply. Likewise, NPS has a system for confirming appointments and reappointments to key positions, such as Department Chair and Dean. Some professional staff positions also undergo national searches to find the most highly qualified candidates available. The policies regarding appointment, promotion and tenure can be found in the Policy Regarding Appointment, Promotion, Salary, and Tenure of Office. (25) [CFR 3.3]

Accordingly, substantial attention is given to helping new faculty and rewarding more experienced faculty. The Research Initiation Program helps new tenure-track faculty establish research programs within the DoD. In 2006, 40 faculty received a combined total of $2.8 million; in 2007, 35 faculty received $2.2 million; and in 2008, 29 faculty received $2.5 million. [CFR 3.4]

In 2007, the Staff Development Advisory Committee (SDAC) was formed to provide a framework for career and professional development opportunities. (35) One of the first activities was a staff survey regarding development needs, followed by focus groups and interviews. As a result of the data collection effort, recommendations to the President included: 1) a need for stronger orientation programs, 2) more training opportunities, 3) better communication about advancement opportunities and 4) funding for training. (36)

Fiscal, Physical and Information Resources

Accountability and Resource Management

NPS continues to be financially stable, operating with appropriate internal and external budgetary controls and oversight. Financial strength is the result of a responsible planning and review process that involves faculty and administrators. NPS aggressively seeks to strengthen and increase its financial base and pursue the resources necessary to achieve its mission and to develop business models that enhance its stakeholders' return on investment. Revenue from tuition and other non-governmental sources increases annually. [CFR 3.5]

The NPS operating budget provided by the Navy, which supports the teaching mission and academic support structures, was $102,646,000 for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008. The total annual funding, including reimbursable research and other federal and non-federal sponsored programs, was $338 million. It is important to note that NPS has strong sponsorship for funded research. In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, NPS faculty brought in over $175 million in sponsored activities. [CFR 3.5]

NPS is investing strategically in its classrooms, laboratories, library and technology. Operational plans support the strategic goals, and NPS is making investments and decisions that are aligned with institutional mission and vision. As an institution, NPS will monitor its performance and report to its community of stakeholders, which will allow those who invest in NPS to capitalize on their investment. [CFR 3.5]

For example, the campus recently underwent a comprehensive revamping of the budget process, including a change in the funding model for determining the academic budgets provided to the Schools and Departments. The major change is a shift in orientation, from a model resourcing the academic units principally for teaching activity to a model that is based on funding of faculty for a nine-month academic year, consistent with other research universities. In the past, the budgeting process has been relatively informal and reactive to Department of Navy directives. Within the past year, new and more formal processes have been implemented, based on campus priorities and strategic plan goals. The budget process as it relates to strategic planning is discussed in detail under Theme One. [CFR 3.5]

Facilities

NPS resides on a main campus of 133 acres, along with a 51-acre section of beachfront along Monterey Bay. The beachfront area has a number of oceanography labs; however, most of the land is natural habitat, and not easily converted for other purposes. Additional remote NPS lab facilities reside at the Monterey Pines (Navy) Golf Course, less than one mile from the main campus, while a one-acre parcel at Point Sur, 25 miles away, houses another oceanographic lab. Other leased areas, including aircraft hangar space at Marina Airport and at Camp Roberts (U.S. Army), are used for the remotely piloted aircraft program. Facilities used to house the NPS university functions number 45 separate building structures. A partnership with the U.S. Army Garrison at the Presidio of Monterey and a private developer provides more than 2,100 housing units for NPS students at La Mesa Village and the Ord Military Community on the former Fort Ord. An initiative to provide for faculty and staff home ownership in the Community Land Trust is also being planned. The first homes should be offered for sale within the next four years. This is a critical component for recruitment and retention of key faculty and staff for the NPS. [CFR 3.5]

The Road Ahead describes the major base facilities initiatives within the 2006-2011 timeframe, to include construction, renovation, and major departmental moves. (37) A campus Space Management Prioritization Committee and associated working groups have a detailed process for assigning and auditing space utilization across campus. Plans in this area include additional staff to increase support for space management and the mapping of the entire campus into a GIS (geographic information system), as well as the creation of a database of CAD drawings for every space on campus. [CFR3.5]

Organizational Structures and Decision Making

A number of key committees help govern the institution, ensuring all members of the university community are engaged and involved. (38) Faculty actively engages in proposing, drafting and reviewing curricular, program and course proposals. The structure and function of the Academic Council is described in more depth under Theme Two. Assessing student learning outcomes, and conducting program and curricular review, is also primarily the responsibility of the faculty. The NPS Research Board, with representatives from each academic department, the institutes, and Faculty Council, advises the Vice President and Dean of Research on policies affecting research. [CFR 3.8]

Standard 4: Creating an Organization Dedicated to Learning and Improvement

Strategic Thinking and Planning

Prior to the recent efforts, strategic planning was last completed on an institution-wide basis in 2003. The preparation for the WASC review coincided with the need to review, evaluate and renew the institutional commitment to mission and how to accomplish this mission. The complete process is documented under Theme One.

As part of the strategic planning process, the institution developed metrics that are shared broadly and updated regularly. A new Strategic Planning Council meets regularly to discuss the process and review the latest metrics. Efforts are underway by the Office of Institutional Research to expand and enhance data availability to the entire campus in order to support decision-making. (39) [CFR 4.1, 4.2, 4.3]

Commitment to Learning and Improvement

The Naval Postgraduate School has long been committed to the ideals of continuous improvement. The curricular review process, described in detail under Theme Two, is just one example of how NPS has long engaged faculty, students and future employers in the development, review and improvement of academic programs. Indeed, fulfillment of the mission to be "relevant" and support increased combat effectiveness and to "enhance our national security" cannot be undertaken without rigorous and consistent program review. [CFR 4.4]

While all curricula undergo regular review, only a few of the academic degree programs are accredited by professional organizations. ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accredits the master's programs in mechanical, astronautical and electrical engineering, among the few graduate-level programs so accredited. (40) The business and public policy programs are accredited by both AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and NASPAA (National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration). (41, 42) Although some departments have on occasion conducted self-initiated program reviews, an NPS system of academic program review, similar in nature to professional accreditation, was proposed and designed in 2006. The first of these reviews was completed in 2007 and future reviews continue according to a defined calendar. These efforts, which are described more fully in Theme Two, help NPS to identify and highlight planning processes, bring evidence to bear on decision-making and complete the process of continuous improvement. [CFR 4.6]