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 Tuesday, April 8, 2008 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Reforming Program Review
by Philip P. DiStefano, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor

Over the past year, the Office of Faculty Affairs, under the guidance and direction of Associate Vice Chancellor Jeff Cox and Andre Grothe, assistant to the vice-chancellor for Academic Affairs, has worked to prepare the way for a transition in academic review procedures at CU-Boulder.

A year ago, a campus-level faculty taskforce suggested significant changes in how the university conducts reviews, saying that we need to do a better job in thinking about our priorities and in connecting review recommendations with resources. The task force was charged with reviewing current procedures, with studying the review procedures of other institutions, with seeking input about possible reforms from campus and faculty leaders and with suggesting changes that affirm the faculty's oversight responsibilities. The task force studied programs at other universities, met widely with interested parties on campus and presented their ideas to the faculty, Boulder Faculty Assembly and Deans' Council.

Every aspect of the review process—from the way departments write their self-evaluations to how internal and external reviews of departments are conducted—has been rethought in order to give deans, faculty and staff a clearer sense of institutional needs and opportunities. Moreover, the review schedule has been reorganized with the hope of tying reviews together organizationally and topically in logical ways, allowing everyone to better comprehend the challenges we face and to improve the chances that the faculty's review recommendations will be heard by administrators during the budget process.

To accomplish this goal, reviews of similar units will be scheduled in the same year. For instance, in 2008-2009 we will review all arts and humanities units. At the core of these proposed changes is the idea that Program Review, while maintaining its function of assuring the accountability of academic programs, is also integrated into the Flagship 2030 strategic planning process.

Several new features have been added to the Program Review process to improve the ability of the procedures to have an impact on planning. Models for self studies that will include pre-populated data sets and guidelines for strategic planning will now be provided to the units by Faculty Affairs. The use of internal and external review teams have also been modified to fit unit needs and, wherever possible, to increase the campus' ability to compare units and to make multiunit planning decisions.

Accountability is also a key feature of this new process. In the past, the academic units were required to regularly report on how they were meeting the recommendations of the campus planning committee. Now, the deans will also be required to report regularly and they will use the program review recommendations in their budget requests to the Academic Affairs Budget Committee to ensure that the priorities for the academic units are reflected in their requests for new funding from CU-Boulder.

We also recognize in these changes an improved chance to think collectively about our university. Along with the new review procedures we are implementing will come new ways to organize information, making it easier for people to participate. In the coming months, ITS will be working closely with the Office of Faculty Affairs to design a website that will allow review reporting to be collected and displayed online and to allow anyone at the university to engage this information. We are optimistic that these innovations will give people new ways to be heard and to address each other in a lively back and forth of ideas. Indeed, reviews should offer people the chance to think strategically as a community, thereby enhancing the chances that meaningful changes will be realized. Altogether, this is an exciting opportunity to improve the way we talk about CU-Boulder's future, and to do so in a way that enhances our collective sense of mission and affirms our dedication to the ideals of university fellowship.

Click the link for a copy of the 2007 PRP Taskforce Report.

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