The Periodic Program Review process provides faculty and staff the opportunity to engage in an extended period of critical reflection on the successes and challenges of their department or program. It is also a time to look forward, creating new goals and plans for achieving them. The ultimate aim of this process is continuous program improvement, so that: 1) students will receive the best educational experience possible, 2) faculty will be successful in their scholarly work, and 3) the curriculum, in both the major and General Education, will be responsive to the needs of society while being guided by and consistent with the mission of liberal education within the Catholic and Jesuit context of the CA&S.
The Program Review entails several important steps. It begins with the department or program faculty and staff engaging in a self-study process, beginning in the spring of the year in which the program is scheduled to proceed. The self-study is guided by one or two faculty members who serve as coordinators for the review process. Their role is to facilitate the collection of the relevant data, the conversations among the faculty and staff, and the discussions and debate that ensues. The process begins with a set of standard questions and areas for review (you can download this as a Word document here) which was developed by the Institutional Planning Committee, but departments and programs are encouraged to go beyond these topics and explore other specific issues of concern or interest. They coordinators are supported in this by the Associate Dean for their division, the SJU Office of Planning and other offices as appropriate. Over the course of that year, the coordinators guide this process, ensuring that all faculty and staff members of the department or program are involved and that opportunity for input from students and alumni is also provided. The self-study is meant to involve both assessment (where is the department now and how did it get there) and planning (what would the faculty and staff like the department/program to become in the future and how will it get there).
A key feature in this process is the involvement of external reviewers. These are faculty from other colleges and universities, who provide an outside perspective on the department/program, the self-study and the future plans. The reviewers, selected by the Dean in consultation with the department/program, review the self-study, visit SJU for two days, and then provide a written report. In this report they address the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and any threats facing the department/program. The reviewers are also asked to make a series of prioritized recommendations based on their observations, interactions with faculty and staff, and their own experience.
The department/program creates a collective response to the external reviewers’ report, and specifically addresses each recommendation. The reviewers’ report, along with the department’s/program’s response, is shared with the relevant Associate Dean, Dean and Provost, who may provide feedback at that point. The department/program then develops drafts of a vision statement and a strategic plan, looking forward 5 to 10 years. To be meaningful, the plan needs to include both specific goals and objectives for the department/program, as well as providing measurable benchmarks for progress towards these goals. These drafts are again shared with the relevant Associate Dean, Dean and Provost. All of the involved individuals then meet to discuss the fit between the proposed strategic plan and the plans for the division, college and university as a whole and to address any modifications that may be required. Once this process is completed, the draft of the strategic plan becomes operational. Annual reports, BAC requests, new hire requests, etc. should all be tied to the strategic plan from that point forward.
The time line for the review process is as follows:
Fall semester before the review process starts:
– The chair or director identifies the faculty member(s) who will coordinate the review process. This is reported to the relevant Associate Dean.
– The compensation for the coordinator(s) is finalized through the Provost’s Office. A total of either: 2 one-courses teaching reductions (to be taken in the following academic year), OR 2 stipends equal to the current overload pay, OR 1 one-course reduction and 1 overload stipend, is provided. If there is more than one coordinator then they split the compensation.
Spring semester of the calendar year in which the review begins:
– The Office of Planning holds a kickoff meeting at which the standard data set for each department or program is provided. This typically occurs in March or April.
– The coordinator(s) begin the process of collecting input from relevant students, faculty, staff and alumni.
– Work on the self-study continues.
– The department/program coordinator, in consultation with the other faculty, develops a list of potential external reviewers. The coordinator contacts the potential reviewers to see if they would be willing to be involved in a review the following spring and to obtain a copy of their CV.
Spring of the semester in which the external reviewers visit SJU:
– The final self-study document is sent electronically to the Associate Dean by January 15. This is shared with the Dean and the external reviewers.
– The Associate Dean and the coordinator develop the schedule for the reviewers’ visit. The Associate Dean schedules meetings with the Dean, Provost and other academic officers. The coordinator schedules meetings with faculty, staff and students, tours of the facilities, etc. The final schedule is sent to the reviewers at least 2 weeks before their visit.
– The reviewers visit SJU for 2 days, at the end of which they provide a preliminary oral report on their findings.
– Within six weeks of the visit, the reviewers provide their final written report. The coordinator(s) review the report for factual accuracy. It is then shared with the Dean and Provost.
– The department/program provides a written response to the external reviewers’ report, addressing their recommendations, by June 15.
– The department/program begins work on drafts of a vision statement and 5 – 10 year strategic plan.
– The drafts of the vision statement and strategic plan are provided to the Associate Dean who transmits them to the Dean and Provost.
– The Provost, Dean, Associate Dean, coordinator and any other interested faculty or staff members from the department/program meet to review the drafts and resolve any issues.
– The drafts become finalized and are put into operation.