Academic Program External Review

Effective Date: April 17, 2017

The Office of the Provost is establishing a general framework for the external review of academic programs based upon: (a) past practice at Purdue University; (b) the thorough research and 2015 final report of the university’s Academic Program Review Advisory Group1; (c) the Higher Learning Commission accreditation criteria requiring that “The Institution maintains a practice of regular program reviews.”

Procedures

A. Elements of the academic program review policy
  1. The definition of “academic program review” comes from the 2015 report of the Academic Program Review Advisory Group2: “academic programs” are undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree majors. An external academic program review evaluates, with the aid of outside reviewers, the general health of academic programs and their alignment with and contributions to institutional goals. External academic program reviews are conducted at the level of the academic unit that offers the majors (typically the department or school) and includes all undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree majors that are offered by that unit, along with the unit’s research and engagement missions, strategic planning, diversity and inclusion efforts, international programs, and the unit’s climate (work environment) and financial health. This includes both the unit’s past performance and its positioning for the future in all phases of the land-grant mission.
  2. The assessment of all unit programs (i.e., graduate and undergraduate programs) will be combined such that only one external review is required for each cycle. Accreditation reviews are an exception and may be done on a separate cycle at the discretion of the dean.
B. Timing
  1. External academic program reviews will be conducted on a five- to eight-year cycle. The Office of the Provost will maintain a university calendar that includes all academic program reviews (usually by department or school).
  2. Adjustments to this cycle can be made in consultation with the Office of the Provost, based upon the recommendation of the dean. In general, to facilitate maintaining an accurate calendar, colleges will report any upcoming variation in the review cycle to the Office of the Provost.
C. Review panel
  1. The roster of external reviewers should be selected well in advance and must be approved by the dean and then submitted to the provost.
  2. The schedule for the external review panel should be provided to the vice provost for faculty affairs and should include an exit meeting between the panel and the vice provost for faculty affairs and the associate dean of the Graduate School.
D. Self-study and reports
  1. External academic program reviews require the unit first to carry out a self-study that should be based upon the template provided in the 2015 final report of the Academic Program Review Advisory Group1. Items that do not pertain to a particular program may be omitted.
  2. The Office of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Effectiveness (OIRAE) will arrange a data meeting with the unit leadership, the unit data manager (if any) and the Graduate School data manager at least a semester in advance of the academic program review. In collaboration with unit leadership, this team will use the data set to create metrics for the self-study process.
  3. The self-study should be completed well in advance of the visit of the external review panel, and provided to the panel at least two weeks prior to their visit. The self-study should also be provided to the vice provost for faculty affairs and the associate dean of the Graduate School.
E. Response to external review panel report
  1. The department/school and the dean should respond to the report of the external reviewers.
  2. The report and responses should be submitted to the vice provost for faculty affairs and the associate dean of the Graduate School as soon as is practicable following receipt of the report from the external reviewers.
  3. The provost will respond to the dean and department and will identify any recommendations for an action plan.

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1 Academic Program Review, submitted to the provost by the Academic Program Review Advisory Group on Jan. 21, 2015.

2 ibid, p. 1 of the final report.

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