Subject: Academic Program Review

Effective: 1/29/87
Last Revised: 1/14/08

Academic program review must be institution-based and reflect an institution’s mission and capacity. Program review should focus on student outcomes and should support a systematic and broad-based approach to the assessment of student learning focused on educational improvement through understanding how and what students are learning in their academic program.

Regular program assessment will improve the program review process. Specific identification of program goals and student learning objectives is a critical first step.

  1. All academic degree programs are to be reviewed within an established time frame. The schedule of academic program reviews is to be revised biennially in concert with the review and revision of the university operational plan of which it becomes a part. Academic program review schedules are to be submitted to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and any deviations from these review schedules must be approved by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
    Program review should be undertaken within five years for new programs and at least every seven years for continuing programs, unless a shorter interval is deemed necessary for specified conditions resulting from a review. The schedule should allow for flexibility and can change to coordinate with the timing of reviews by specialized accrediting bodies. University-level processes should be developed for programs less than degree-level.
  2. Academic program review should ensure broad institutional and community representation in the process, including but not limited to appropriate faculty and program alumni. Structures and mechanisms that blend academic affairs and student affairs in a constructive fashion should be encouraged.
  3. The program review process on each university should include:

    a. a self-study by the unit being reviewed.

    The self-study should include:
    • rationale for the program
    • five-year summary of program enrollment (number of majors and number of graduates)
    • course section enrollments
    • number of full-time faculty equivalents
    • budgets
    • an assessment of progress made in relation to the recommendations of previous program reviews.

    The self-study should address the quality of the faculty and the methods used to ensure that quality (such as post-tenure review practices). The quality and appropriateness of the curriculum should be examined, with attention to such matters as student outcomes assessment and pluralistic perspectives. In addition, the self-study should discuss the relation of the program to the university mission.

    b. a report by external reviewers based on a review of the self-study, additional materials as required, and a site visit.

    c. a final report by the university, endorsed by the President.

    The final report should include:
    • a statement on how the program enhances the mission of the university
    • a statement on the value of the program to the state and the nation
    • a set of recommendations, with rationale, for future action,
    • budget implications based on the self-study and the external review, and
    • actions taken as a result of previous reviews.

    Attention should be given to whether or not a program having had few graduates over a period of years as well as low course section enrollments should be continued. Professional accreditation processes may substitute for appropriate components of this section. The University of Maine System encourages program review and accreditation assessments be held at the same time where possible and appropriate.

  4. Program reviews carried out during the previous two years shall become a part of the biennial review and revision of the university operational plan and the recommendations emanating from the review should be taken into consideration in the development of the biennial budget request.
  5. Each year, each Chief Academic Officer will submit a report to the Vice Chancellor that summarizes program review activity at the universities. This report should include information on reviews in progress, reviews completed in the past year, an executive summary of the results of completed reviews and actions taken as a result of those reviews.

The Vice Chancellor will review the documents submitted and, based on this review, will recommend that the Chancellor accept the reviews and the recommendations in the final report and initiate any appropriate action(s), or recommend that the Chancellor discuss the review documents with the university President and examine possible future actions.
Institutions and the System should fully vet program reviews and provide adequate responses to programs.

Program review documents will be kept on file in the Chancellor’s Office where they can be reviewed by members of the Board of Trustees.

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