4.12 Policies and Guidelines for Cyclical Reviews

4.12-2 Policy and Guidelines for Academic Program Review

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1. Background

Formal academic program review procedures approved by University Council have been in place at the University of Georgia since 1990. In 2002, the Council approved the University of Georgia Program Review Policy to ensure the University of Georgia complied with new requirements for academic program review passed by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents (BOR) in 2001.  In addition, the 2002 revision sought to build on the solid foundation of experience from the first cycle of review and to codify in policy practices that had evolved during the first ten years of academic program review.

The 2016 revision of the UGA Academic Program Review Policy is based on a thorough evaluation of the review process by the Program Review and Assessment Committee as required by the existing policy.  The revised policy seeks to streamline the review process, align it with new policies and expectations from UGA, the BOR, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); and ensure it continues to provide for the continuous improvement of UGA academic programs.

2. References

  1. Board of Regents Policy Manual, University System of Georgia, Policy 2.9, titled “Institutional Effectiveness: Planning and Assessment”
  2. Board of Regents Policy Manual, University System of Georgia, Policy 3.6.3, titled “Comprehensive Academic Program Review”
  3. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Principles of Accreditation, Core requirement 2.5 and Comprehensive Standards 3.3.1.1, 3.3.1.4, and 3.3.1.5
  4. UGA Academic Affairs Policy 2.04-4, titled “Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes”
  5. UGA University Council Bylaws, Part I, Section XIV, “Program Review and Assessment Committee”

3. Guiding Principles and Purpose of this Policy

Academic Program Review is one among a number of interrelated processes in place at the University of Georgia to ensure institutional effectiveness in accordance with requirements of the BOR and SACSCOC.  The purpose of Academic Program Review is to provide a systematic means of ensuring the continuous improvement of the University’s academic, research, and service programs. Reviews should focus on how excellence can be achieved, how programs can move to the forefront of their fields, and how available resources can be used for maximum impact. The outcomes of Academic Program Reviews serve to guide development of individual programs, inform administrators making decisions about the allocation of resources. The essential elements of all Academic Program Reviews include:

As defined in section 7, the intent of the review process is that academic program faculty should, as part of the larger university review, engage in a careful self-review of each academic program in light of its own purpose and strategic goals for achieving excellence in the field.  This should improve the quality of the university review; make it more salient to the faculty and academic programs; and increase the likelihood that the process will result in continuous improvement.

4. Scope of Academic Program Review

All academic degree programs; the majors within each degree program at the undergraduate, graduate, professional levels; and all certificate programs are subject to review.  Consistent with BOR and SACSCOC requirements and Academic Affairs Policy 2.04-4, Academic Program Review must, at a minimum, evaluate each academic program and assess its procedures for student learning outcome assessment.  In addition, research programs, public service and outreach programs, and the programs of official Centers and Institutes may also be included as appropriate within the scope of Academic Program Reviews.  The full scope of each Academic Program Review Team’s work will be determined in consultation with academic program faculty or it representative(s) at the outset of the review. 

In general, all appropriate programs within an administratively distinct unit will be reviewed at the same time by one Academic Program Review Team as defined in section 8 of this policy.

5. Responsibility for Academic Program Reviews

Academic Program Reviews is a partnership between the Program Review and Assessment Committee (PRAC), as constituted in the bylaws of the University Council, and the Office of Accreditation and Institutional Effectiveness (OAIE).  In general, PRAC has primary oversight of all matters directly related to the substantive elements of Academic Program Reviews, including establishment of review criteria and guidelines that meet BOR and SACSCOC requirements; evaluation of student learning outcomes assessment processes; oversight of review teams; and considering, approving, and forwarding the review team reports and recommendations.  In general, OAIE has primary oversight of procedural matters related to Academic Program Reviews and responsibility for annual reporting required by the BOR and reporting to SACSCOC as necessary.  This includes maintaining the official review cycle, ensuring compliance with PRAC guidelines, BOR requirements and SACSCOC requirements, facilitating the review process, and maintaining the record of academic program review results.

6. Faculty Involvement in the Review Process

Academic program faculty must be involved in the review process in accordance with the rules of faculty governance under which that academic program operates.  Because the usefulness of the review process and the validity of its results are greatly enhanced by the broadest possible involvement of the academic program faculty, they should be encouraged to participate in all aspects of the review.  This should include defining the scope of the review, planning and preparing the self-study, identifying potential reviewers, providing information to the review team through interviews and surveys, and responding to recommendations in the Final Report.

Academic Program Reviews will be conducted by a review team of UGA faculty assembled by OAIE and approved by the PRAC according to guidelines in section 8 of this policy.  Review teams may include external reviewers.

The final self-study, any final review report and recommendations of Academic Program Reviews will be made available to all academic program faculty. As deemed necessary, personnel recommendations or other sensitive items will be redacted from this report. Such redactions will be made explicit in the report.

7. Review Cycle

In accordance with BOR requirements, there will be a seven-year review cycle for all academic programs.  The review cycle will be developed and maintained by the OAIE in consultation with PRAC, Deans, and Directors.  For academic programs subject to external accreditation review, and consistent with Academic Affairs Policy 2.04-4, every effort will be made to coordinate the internal review with the external review, minimize duplication of effort, and make efficient use of documentation for both reviews.

8. Academic Program Review Team

Each Academic Program Review Team will consist of at least four University of Georgia faculty appointed as follows:

  • Two team members will be assigned from the membership of PRAC, one of whom will focus on evaluating student learning outcomes assessment processes.
  • The Director, Dean or Vice President with oversight of the program(s) will nominate one member from a related field who will usually serve as chair of the Academic Program Review Team and who meets conflict-of-interest standards as defined in section 13.  If the program(s) under review include a graduate program, this member must be a member of the graduate faculty at UGA or have similar standing at their home institution.
  • The academic program faculty, either through the Head/Director or in accordance with its faculty governance procedures, will either a) nominate one member who has agreed to serve and who meets conflict-of-interest standards as defined below, or b) submit to the OAIE the names of at least three faculty from related fields who the faculty deems appropriate to serve on the review team and who meet conflict-of-interest standards as defined below.  If the academic program (s) under review include a graduate program, nominees/submissions must be members of the graduate faculty at UGA or have similar standing at their home institution.

External Reviewers: The inclusion of a noted expert from the same field as the academic program(s) can add significant value to the results of an academic program review.  If an academic program or Dean wishes to include an external reviewer on the review team, the Dean or program Head/Director must:

  1. Notify the OAIE in writing of its intention to include an external reviewer;
  2. Submit the name(s) of the potential reviewer(s) to the OAIE for approval;
  3. Secure stipend and travel expenses for the reviewer; and
  4. Secure the agreement of the reviewer to serve as a member of the Academic Program Review Team

The external reviewer, if added, will be a fifth member of the Academic Program Review Team.

All review team nominees are subject to the approval of PRAC.

9. Self-Study

The basis of an Academic Program Review will be a self-study prepared by the academic program faculty according to PRAC guidelines provided at the beginning of the review process.  The purpose of the self-study is to provide a mechanism for the faculty to undertake a thorough self-evaluation of each programs’ goals and successes, including its students’ attainment of learning outcomes as defined in and required by Academic Affairs Policy 2.04-4. The self-study should incorporate applicable BOR and SACSCOC requirements, and to the extent possible, incorporate existing documentation from other sources, such as specialized accreditation reports and data from central UGA resources, such as the Office of Institutional Research. The self-study should identify the key strengths and weaknesses of the academic program and should include strategies for continued development of its strengths and correction of its weaknesses.  In the process of preparing the self-study, the faculty should consider each academic program in relation to currency in the discipline, the University’s strategic goals, and the needs of the State, as appropriate. The self-study will be shared with the appropriate dean or director at the same time it is submitted for the review.

10. The Final Report of the Academic Program Review Team

The final report will be prepared according to PRAC guidelines provided at the beginning of the review process. The final report will address each academic program offered by the unit and make explicit recommendations as to whether each academic program should be maintained at current levels, enhanced, reduced in scope, consolidated, or eliminated consistent with the requirements of Board of Regents Policy Manual, University System of Georgia, Policy 3.6.3, titled “Comprehensive Academic Program Review”

11. Administrative Follow‑up of Academic Program Review Reports

Final reports will be distributed to the academic program faculty, staff, and administrators with oversight of the academic program. As deemed necessary, personnel recommendations or other sensitive items will be redacted from this report. Such redactions will be made explicit in the report. A meeting will be held soon after completion of the review with the academic program faculty or its representative(s) and the above administrators to discuss the final report and determine action items. 

One year following completion of the review, the academic program faculty will submit a report on the unit's progress in responding to the action items determined in the follow-up meeting. PRAC will review follow-up reports to ensure adequate progress is being made by the unit and appropriate administrative hierarchy and make referrals as necessary.

12. Evaluating these Policies and Procedures

At least once every five years, PRAC should undertake a thorough evaluation of the effectiveness of this policy and any procedures enacting it with the purpose of recommending improvements, as appropriate, to the University Council.

13. Conflict of Interest Policy in Academic Program Reviews

The PRAC acknowledges that persons who are actively engaged and familiar with an academic unit may best be able to assess strengths and challenges of its programs. However, it is vital to the effectiveness of program reviews that individuals involved in the review process are free of conflicts that might compromise or be perceived to compromise critical objectivity. For this reason, faculty with rank, joint, or adjunct appointment in the unit with programs under review shall not participate as reviewers or as PRAC members discussing the review in committee. PRAC will consider other potential conflicts as necessary, with particular attention to those occurring within seven years leading up to the review.

Any potential conflict within the review team must be disclosed in writing to the full academic program faculty and to PRAC. Disclosure should include personal confirmation that the potential conflict does not compromise the critical objectivity of the reviewer. Academic program faculty may object to individual reviewers through departmental governance procedures or directly to PRAC or to the OAIE. PRAC will consider disclosed potential conflicts, written confirmation of critical objectivity, and any objection from the unit in determining whether to confirm members of the review team. PRAC will have final determination regarding review team membership. PRAC members who have any of the potential conflicts listed above or other potential conflicts relating to a unit under review must disclose those relationships to the committee, which will determine whether or not the member should participate in discussions relating to that unit.

Approved by the University Council, January 31, 2002
Revised and approved, September 22, 2005
Revised and approved, February 8, 2007
Revised and approved, February 7, 2013
Revised and approved, November 16, 2016

Sources:
  • University Council, November 16, 2016

4.12-3 Policy and Guidelines for Academic and Administrative Support Unit Review

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Policy
University of Georgia Policy for Periodic Review of Academic and Administrative Support Groups

Sources:
  • Approved by Senior Vice Presidents, 2003, updated 2007, 2010, 2017