Campus Weekly readers saw the listing of updates in the last issue. What have been the 2-3 most significant revisions or updates in the process, since the semester ended, in your judgment?
Well, we brought a consultant to campus, to help us with the data – the centrally provided data – and to review and provide recommendations for the use of that centrally provided data. And that was a very helpful process, in terms of validating and identifying some of the challenges of producing that data, The consultant provided four recommendations based on his review of our work. We had already begun to respond to several of these recommendations.
One recommendation related to providing more detailed definitions of the data and the data formulations used to produce academic review profiles. We have asked the consultant to continue to work with us and our director of institutional research and a group of faculty on how to refine the definitions moving forward, from this point, which I think will be very helpful to the work of the academic unit committees. That’s one important one.
Another recommendation was to provide more guidance for data relevance and the use of profile data. And at the Deans’ Council retreat we talked about this at length. And the deans will begin to work closely with their unit committees to develop a process for reviewing programs, including guidelines for how to weigh the relevance of each of the criteria that they are reviewing.
Another important recommendation was that departments be allowed to provide a list of data for verification. And we will be inviting departments to do just that – to provide data for verification as part of their responses to the program and department surveys.
So, those were among some of the more important, I think, observations and recommendations of the consultant. The fourth was simply related to a workshop or a meeting to bring together the academic program review committees in August – to touch base on where we are – and we will do that as well.
You say some work had begun on some of these already. How did the revisions come to be? Were they the result of feedback that you’ve heard?
Yes, I think a fundamental tenet of this process is that we be responsive to what we learn and to the feedback that we receive as we move through the process. And this is consistent with conversations I’ve had with provosts all over the country that have engaged in academic program review. So we conducted a series of meetings and forums with Faculty Senate. I met with the department chairs. I attended a couple of meetings with past and present Faculty Senate chairs, to listen to their ideas and suggestions. These revisions to the process have been a result of our interacting with a whole host of groups across the campus. And I think it’s very important that we do that. It is very helpful, I think, in generating a stronger process.
What are some good ways to stay informed, as the process continues?
We have a web site that one can link to from the university web page, from the provost web page, or the Office of Planning and Assessment web page. People can also register for automatic notification when material is posted on the web pages. I think that the deans will be working very closely with their academic unit committees, and those individuals can help to keep their colleagues informed of what is happening. The chancellor will be providing an update on the process in her State of the Campus address. And I will be addressing this during my Faculty Convocation presentation in September. We will provide periodic and regular updates to the Faculty Senate and Faculty Senate meetings. And we will also be working very closely to keep the Board of Trustees informed of what is happening with the process.
The timeline is posted online. I saw four updates to the Program Review web site this week (of June 19). (New items have the word “New!!” with the date beside them.) Looking at the big picture, is there anything you’d like to emphasize to the campus community at this point about the ongoing process?
I know that there is a great deal of apprehension about the process of academic program review. I think we need to view this as an opportunity to identify our strengths, just as much as we do our programs that may be candidates for curtailment. We will take time, in this process. We will review carefully the recommendations of the University Program Review Committee. The campus community will have an opportunity to review those recommendations and to respond to them and to provide feedback to me and the chancellor. We will follow very carefully the guidelines of the system and the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) as related to protection to the greatest extent we can with tenure and tenure-track positions. But I do think it is a process, as difficult as it will be, it is a process that will help shape the future of the university moving forward, in a more focused manner, around our strengths – and help us to maintain a sound and balanced program consistent with our mission and our Strategic Plan.
I see the rosters of all the committees are online. Have there been any changes, or anything the campus should be aware of, in that regard?
There have been some changes to the composition of the University Program Review committee. At the Deans’ Council retreat, we reviewed the backgrounds of the current committee members, and it became apparent that we would benefit from additional strengths in the sciences and in the humanities. So we have added two faculty members who will bring expertise in the sciences and the humanities.
We’ve had to replace the Staff Senate representative. Jason Morris has left the university, so we have replaced Jason on the University Program Review Committee as a Staff Senate representative.
We’ve had just a few changes within some of the Academic Unit Committees, due in large part to the extension of the deadline. For example, we’ve had a couple of the faculty take on some new assignments in their academic units that would make it very difficult for them to continue. But for the most part, the Academic Unit Committees have stayed pretty much intact, as they were originally created.
Editor’s note: The Program Review web page’s address is http://opa.uncg.edu/programreview/. The committee rosters may be viewed at http://opa.uncg.edu/programreview/committees.aspx.
Provost Perrin interviewed and photographed by Mike Harris