Review Process Overview
The following is an overview of the nine critical elements of the review process:
1. Review Initiation
The University Provost consults with the relevant dean(s) and notifies the unit selected for review of the timing of the review and outlines the review process.
2. Agreement on the Scope of Review
The Provost’s designee, relevant dean(s), and leadership of the academic unit under review (e.g., department chair, director, section head) meet to discuss and agree upon the scope of the review and to identify any particular issues unique to the program on which specific input from external visitors is requested. These details will be outlined in the agreement document, to which all parties will sign as confirmation. The signed agreement will serve as the governing document and outline the official charge for the review committee.
The scope of review document will also provide guidance on general composition of the review committee including its size, the range of disciplinary expertise to be represented, and the most likely sources for qualified reviewers.
Prior to the meeting and the drafting of the scope of review document, critical input on all aspects of the review structure and elements should be gathered from faculty in the unit undergoing review.
The academic unit will prepare a self-study document to serve as the foundation for assessment and for outlining the unit’s strategic direction, goals, and plan for implementation. The self-study may vary in outline and format, but should include the information requested in these guidelines and address any additional questions raised in the scope of review agreement.
The preparation of the self-study is intended to assist the unit’s faculty in establishing priorities and identifying strategies for making improvements in the quality and recognition of the programs in significant rankings. The self-study should identify institutions against which the unit benchmarks the quality of its programs and describe the specific aspects of the unit that make it distinctive. The self-study report will be distributed to the review committee members prior to their participation in the site visit.
4. Review Committee Selection
The standard composition and size of the review committee is five members: three distinguished faculty specialists in the field from outside Boston University, one senior member of the Boston University faculty, and one member of the Boston University Board of Overseers. The internal member will be invited to serve on the review team by the Provost’s designee; no member of the program under review may serve this role including faculty with joint or courtesy appointments.
As part of the process that defines the scope of review and leads to the signed agreement, the head of the unit to be reviewed and the appropriate dean(s) will provide input on the desired expertise represented by the external reviewers and the institutions from which appropriate reviewers might be selected, but should not provide recommendations of specific individuals. The Office of the Provost will identify the external candidates, and the unit leadership and dean(s) will have the opportunity to review the list, consult with the unit’s faculty, and may strike individuals whose participation would constitute a clear conflict of interest. The Office of the Provost will determine the final composition of the review committee, manage the necessary invitations, and confirm the site-visit period.
5. Site Visit
The review committee’s site visit is typically a three-day commitment, during which the team will meet with deans, unit leadership, faculty, students, and relevant staff and administrators. Meetings with faculty from other units where significant collaborations exist will also be included. The head of the unit under review is responsible for preparing the itinerary for the site visit based on standard guidelines provided by the Office of the Provost. Whenever possible, input on the structure of the itinerary will be requested from the review committee. The Office of the Provost will approve the site visit itinerary and ensure its distribution to the review committee. The site visit concludes with an exit interview at which the review committee presents the results of their findings to the Provost’s designee, the dean(s), and leadership of the academic unit under review (e.g., department chair, director, section head).
The review committee will prepare a report to the University Provost that offers a concise, candid appraisal of the unit’s strengths and weaknesses, current reputation, reputational potential, and constructive recommendations for making improvements. The report will be shared broadly with the unit’s faculty and leadership.
The unit under review is expected to prepare a written response to the review committee’s report within four weeks of its receipt. The response should be viewed as an opportunity to outline and prioritize the unit’s plans based on the input of the review committee. The response need not address all issues raised in the report and is not a conversation with the review committee.
7. Faculty Committee on Academic Program Review
The academic program review process is most meaningful if it is indeed a peer review that includes participation by external peers as well as by faculty peers within the University. To that end, the University Committee on Academic Program Review (CAPR) is a University-level committee composed of senior faculty to serve as a governing entity with oversight of the program review process. This committee is charged with considering all reviews conducted across the University in a given year. On the basis of this review and assessment, the CAPR presents the resulting review documents with a cover memo to the Provost and may make additional recommendations. The CAPR memo is advisory to the Provost and is not shared broadly. The CAPR will also evaluate the review process itself and, if necessary, suggest modifications and revisions to the official structure.
8. Board of Overseers
Involvement of members of the Board of Overseers provides substantive external input from constituents with important expertise and unique perspectives on how individual academic unit plans fit into the overall strategic plan of the University.
A member of the Board of Overseers will participate in each program review as a non-disciplinary institutional supporter and representative of the Overseers. The Overseer member is expected to attend and oversee activities as an observer at the seminal points of each review as schedules allow, including the meeting on agreement for the scope of review, site visit, and exit interview.
The participating Overseer(s) will have the responsibility for reporting the outcomes of the program review to the full Board of Overseers and the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees.
9. Post-Review Planning
Timely follow-through on the review by the dean(s) and the Office of the Provost is critical to the success of the program review process.
The formal conclusion of the review process is to assemble those who participated in the scope of review meeting (Provost’s designee, dean(s), and unit leadership). Others (such as members of the Provost’s or dean’s leadership teams) may be included in the post-review meeting, as appropriate. The reports generated by the review process will form the basis of the post-review meeting to develop consensus on the necessary next steps for addressing the opportunities and concerns raised by the review. The post-review meeting should be held as quickly as possible, usually within 1-2 months of the Provost’s receipt of the documents generated by the review.
The result of the post-review meeting will be a formal memo from the Provost’s designee that summarizes key aspects of the discussion at the post-review meeting and outlines follow up and continuing discussions on the issues identified. The dean(s) will be responsible for updating the Provost on progress toward the goals identified within the allotted timeframe.
The participating Overseer(s) will report the necessary outcomes to the full Board of Overseers and the Board of Trustees.