The work of the review committee and its members is a critical part of an effective academic program review. The perspective and evaluative opinion of the review committee provides faculty in the program(s) under review, school/college leadership, and the Office of the Provost with an important external lens through which strengths, challenges, and opportunities for improvement can be gleaned. While the university works to support an efficient process for the committee, it is a time-consuming endeavor. The goal of the resources and tips presented here is to provide clear and concise direction and support for committees.
Goal of the Committee
Committees are asked to provide an honest appraisal of the program’s strengths and weaknesses in all aspects of its activities, including faculty, students, curriculum, student learning and assessment, resources, community and climate, and future opportunities. Beyond these broad areas, committees are asked to be attentive to efforts to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion; and for graduate-level programs, to evaluate the quality of student funding packages and professional development opportunities. The self-study report, which is provided to the committee with the charge memo, serves as the cornerstone of the review committees evaluation. Part of the work of the committee is to analyze and validate the information presented in that report.
The dean selects the chair of the committee from among the appointed members. The chair establishes the general plan for the review, as well as the timeline. Typically review committees are charged in September, work through the fall semester, and submit the review committee report in/by January. Following are some tips and notes on the chair role:
- The chair is responsible for scheduling meetings for the committee. It is advised to schedule an initial meeting of the committee within a few weeks of receiving the charge memo. Subsequent meetings of the committee can be scheduled as needed.
- The chair is also responsible for scheduling meetings between all or select members of the committee and the program’s faculty, staff, and students. The chair might also wish to schedule a tour of program facilities and/or invite the program director to meet with the entire committee.
Sample Agenda for Initial Committee Meeting
Chairs can and should set any agenda they feel will serve the committee well as it begins its work. Following are agenda items that might be useful during the initial committee meeting:
- Review of the Charge Memo. Look for any specific guidance on items or issues that the dean asked to be evaluated. The committee should be sure to understand the review timeline and the deadline to submit the report.
- General Discussion of the Self-Study Report. This might include general comments and overall impressions, and any over-arching questions committee members have after reading the report.
- In-Depth Review of the Self-Study Report. Consider going through the self-study page-by-page and invite comments, discussion, and questions.
- List of Areas for Focus: Develop a list of topics the committee wishes to focus on during its work. Usually this list is informed by the thorough analysis of the self-study report and reflects the committee’s preliminary thoughts on the program’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Next Steps. Outline the next steps and timeline. Decide how or if the committee will subdivide its work.
Review Committee Report
Committees are asked to use the review committee report template. Most review committee reports are brief and no more than 10 pages. Ultimately the review committee report must be written and include a summary of the committee’s process and activities, along with an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the program(s) under review, advice and recommendations for future directions, and conclusions from the committee. The chair is ultimately responsible for preparing the report and getting feedback from committee members prior to submission. The review committee report is submitted to the dean. Usually the work of the committee is complete when the report is submitted. The dean sends the report to the program faculty to consider the findings, offer perspective in response, and address any major issues identified.