Academic Policy  1620.10 

Program and Department Review

(See also 1620.11, Review Schedule, and 1620.12, Self-Study Template for Non-Accredited Programs)

Each academic degree program offered at the University must be reviewed periodically, consistent with Board of Trustees policy 620.1, Arkansas code 6-61-214, and policy of the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. See Academic Policy 1620.11 for the current schedule of program reviews. Institutional and Division of Agriculture program reviews occur as part of the review of the academic department.  Academic department reviews include all of the undergraduate and graduate programs, housed in the department.  A program is reviewed alone if it is housed in the school or college rather than a department.

Each program is scheduled for review at least every seven years and/or consistent with accreditation policy. A program will be scheduled for a special review during the year following any year in which the three-year average number of program graduates falls below the state minimum requirement.  If a review is delayed for one year, the presumption will be that only unusual circumstances would support a second year’s delay. Proposal of a major program change (for example, addition of a concentration or a significant reorganization) may trigger a unit review unless one has been conducted within the immediately preceding three years. No department or program review may be delayed beyond the tenth year following the previous review. Unit review outcomes and evaluative data will be a factor in planning and resource allocation decisions.

Guidelines for Non-accredited Programs

Overview of the Review Process

The program/department review process occurs over approximately 18 months and includes three phases.  The first phase will begin in the spring semester and will include the program/department completing a self-study report, as well as making recommendations for the review team.  The second phase will occur during the fall semester and will include an on-campus site visit by outside reviewers (consultants) who will submit a written report to the Director of Curriculum Review and Program Assessment (director).  The final phase will occur during the spring semester and will include the program/department preparing a response to the feedback from the consultants. 

Self-Study Report

In consultation with the director and the dean of the school or college, the program/department will conduct a self-evaluation and prepare a self-study report. The self-evaluation process should begin with analysis of institutional data provided to the department and identification of additional data that will need to be provided by the department. The report will be consistent with the Self-Study Template for Non-Accredited Programs (Academic Policy 1620.12) and will include all required components. The dean of the school or college in which the program is housed will participate in the program evaluation, as will deans of the graduate school and the honors college, to the extent required to assure reasonable concurrence regarding conclusions. The report will normally be completed by May 15, and any attachments and appendices will be forwarded to the director from the dean to provide a basis for institution and external review.

Much of the documentation used in program review must be supplied by the academic department. In addition, the Office of Strategic Analytics & Insights  will prepare a program evaluation summary report for each academic department for the year during which any program in the department is to be reviewed. Basic student data (demographic, graduation, class sizes, and enrollment), faculty data (demographic, classroom productivity, and comparative salary information), and program research/scholarly productivity (number of grants, dollars, and publications) will be provided in this report. The dean’s office responsible for funding the program under review will provide expenditure data from department accounts distributed by expenditure category. The department will provide the other information identified in the Self-Study Template for Non-Accredited Programs (Academic Policy 1620.12). Copies of the most recent three annual reports of the department and the current departmental strategic plan should be made available for review by the external reviewers if requested.

The University Libraries will generate data on library support for degree and research programs housed in the department. Where available, program accreditation reports will be reviewed for scope and updated with the latest information. Most such reports include an assessment—provided by library subject specialists—of scope, content, and currency of monographic collections, and an assessment of journal and electronic resources which support the program. Budget information (current or linear), and staffing support is also generally included.  Where time permits, program faculty and students may also be asked to provide an assessment. Where no accreditation report is available, a collection content and user assessment report will be structured to incorporate the above categories of information based on the Collection Policy Statement for the program, if one has been completed. Collection Policy Statements identify intended level of support (1-4) ranging from instruction to research support. Content reports would also include information regarding the most important resources and services supporting the program. Data components of these reports but not limited to will include collection size, available peer institution information, and expenditures for books, journals, and electronic resources.

Selection of Review Team

The program/department will be asked by the director to identify five people from outside the state of Arkansas who are well qualified to serve as outside reviewers and to submit a brief biography regarding their qualifications to the director. The reviewers should be affiliated with programs that are similar in mission and scope to the program under review.  Two outside reviewers will be selected per program/department.  Once the reviewers have been selected, the program/department will make arrangements for the campus site visit scheduled in the fall semester with the reviewers in consultation with the director.  

The director will also meet with the University Program Review Committee for the institution and will assign each member of the committee to a program/department review process.  This committee member will serve as an active member of the program review team.  Each program review team will review the self-study report in preparation for the site visit.

Campus Site Visit

The director will partner with the program/department to schedule a two-day site visit to include the program review team chosen for each program/department.  The site visit will include the program review team meeting with members of the department, selected students, deans, and outside constituencies as appropriate.  The site visits should be completed by November 15.  Following the site visit, the consultants will have two weeks to complete their report consistent with institutional guidelines and submit the report to the director.  The director will review the report to assure all areas addressed in the Arkansas Division of Higher Education guidelines have been included.  The director will forward the consultants’ report to the program/department chair and the dean. 

Response to Program Review

Following receipt of the consultants’ report the program/department, in consultation with the dean of the school or college, will develop a strategy to address all concerns presented by the review team through the campus program review process. The draft strategy statement is due to the director no later than February 1. The strategy statement will follow the format of the “Strategies for Improvement/Maintenance” template.  When the dean of the school or college has provided their response to the draft strategy statement by the department/program, the dean will forward the draft to the dean of the graduate school (if graduate program) for their response.  The draft strategy statement will then be forwarded to the Director of Curriculum Review and Program Assessment (director). The director will forward the draft strategy statement to the provost.  Once the provost has presented their response, the strategy statement will be returned to the department/program to collect signatures from all appropriate parties.  Signed copies will be returned to the department/ program chair, dean of the school or college, dean of the graduate school (if graduate program) and the director.  The external reviewers’ report, and the response document will be submitted to the Arkansas Division of Higher Education.

Appropriate follow up is expected between the program/department chair and the dean to address any issues or concerns raised during the program review process. If further action is deemed appropriate by the chair or dean, a dated notation should be appended to the original strategy statement and copies provided to all participants. Further actions may be taken, through regular campus channels, depending upon the outcome of the program review. 

Guidelines for Accredited Programs

Review Process

Accredited programs will submit the findings of their accrediting body, along with materials prepared for the visiting accreditation team, as a substitute for the institution program review process to the Director of Curriculum Review and Program Assessment. If significant aspects of the institution review process are omitted from the accrediting body review and self-study, a review of these aspects will be scheduled on the basis of a supplement to the accreditation self-study report (to address a campus-only audience). 

See Academic Policy 1620.11 for a list of accrediting bodies and dates for accreditation periods or campus visits. Normally, a department and all its units will undergo review the year an accreditation review is scheduled for one or more of the program(s) in the department, although a separate review of non-accredited programs may be preferable to the college and department. If a department has more than one accrediting body, the department and dean will choose the year for review.