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.

3. Self-Study

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).

6. Reporting

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.