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Program Review Site Visit Guidelines

»Site Visit Guidelines

Preparing for the Site Visit

The Office of the Chancellor will send the academic unit's Program Review Self-Study Report (and Appendices) to the external reviewers in January and make initial arrangements for the dates of the program review site visit to beheld in the Spring during February or March. The academic unit will work with the Office of the Chancellor to prepare for the program review team site visit and to develop a schedule for the external reviewers' two-day site visit.

Academic units are responsible for arranging meals/expenses of the external reviewers using the regular budgetary processes of the University and Office of the Chancellor. The Office of the Chancellor will arrange airfare/transportation and hotel/lodging, and payment of honoraria to external reviewers following the program review site visit and submission of the External Reviewers' Report. Academic units should consult with the Office of the Chancellor regarding all budget expenses for program review.

The department/school will provide the external reviewers with an office or room for use during the visit as well as a computer and printer. In addition, meeting space will be provided for scheduled meetings of the reviewers with the various groups. It is the academic unit's responsibility to arrange tours of its facilities, as well as to schedule time for the team to review course syllabi and student work, and to meet with faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Elements of the Site Visit

During the site visit, the external reviewers will meet with program faculty, staff, students, and administrators. The external reviewers will review program materials and exhibits of student work, attend class meetings, and tour special facilities and library holdings relevant to the academic unit. The schedule for the site visit will include time for reviewing the unit's program review documents and materials. During the external reviewers' visit, the unit shall be responsible for making the following, and any other needed materials, available: course syllabi/outlines, advising materials, samples of student work, and student theses, projects, and/or comprehensive exams.

1. Orientation Dinner

A meeting should be held at the start of the site visit with the department chair (or dean) and the Vice-Chancellor of Institutional Effectiveness and Faculty Affairs. The purpose of this meeting is to orient the external reviewers to the goals and agenda of the site visit, and to answer any questions they have on their roles in the program review and site visit, or on the academic unit's Program Review Report and academic programs.

2. Meetings with Students

Some of the most helpful meetings of a site visit are those with students. Because students often bring up questions for which the site visitors will seek answers, these meetings should be scheduled on the first day of the visit.  Faculty members should introduce the external reviewers and explain the purpose of their visit, then leave so that the students feel free to discuss any issues and concerns with the site visit team. Since undergraduate and graduate students may have different concerns, separate meetings should be arranged if possible for these students. Meetings with 5-15 students are most effective in promoting discussion and providing helpful insights and information for site visitors.

3. Meetings with Faculty Members

Depending on the size of the academic unit, two or three small group meetings may be held with faculty so that faculty members will have a chance to express their views and most (or all) programs in the academic unit are represented. One possible grouping is to create separate meetings with Senior Faculty and one for Junior Faculty. In addition, the external reviewers should meet with the faculty members/committee who wrote the unit's Program Review Report and with the faculty members/committees whose work is most closely related to the program review. The department chair (or deans) should not attend any faculty meetings with site visitors so that faculty members feel free to discuss issues and concerns openly with the external reviewers.

4. Meeting with Department Chair (or Deans)

At least an hour should be scheduled for the site visitors to meet with the department chair (or deans) beyond the orientation meeting at the start of the site visit. Because site visitors will often have questions from their conversations with students and faculty, some time for this meeting with the department chair (or dean) should be scheduled late in the site visit.

5. Preparation of External Reviewers' Report

During the site visit, the external reviewers will complete the External Review Summary Sheet and begin to draft a report that summarizes their main findings and recommendations. The site visit schedule should include 2-3 hours in the morning/early afternoon of the final day of the site visit for the external reviewers to prepare and finish their draft report that will be presented at the exit meeting/briefing. The department/school should provide a quiet private office or room for the external reviewers, with a computer, printer, and access to program review documents. Designated faculty/staff should be available to provide assistance, respond to requests, and answer any questions about the academic unit/programs. A working lunch should be provided for the external reviewers as requested.

6. Exit Meeting/Briefing

The site visit will conclude with an exit meeting/briefing attended by the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor of Institutional Effectiveness and Faculty Affairs, college/school Dean, department chair (if applicable), and associate dean(s) as requested. At this meeting the external reviewers will summarize their main findings and recommendations based on the External Reviewer Summary Sheet.

Recommendations on Hosting the Site Visit

The faculty members of the department/school should serve as local hosts for the site visit, picking up the external reviewers at their hotel, escorting them to meetings, arranging return transportation, and providing general assistance. On the final day of the site visit, the academic unit should arrange for site visitors to check out of their hotel before the designated hour in order to avoid being charged for an extra day, unless the visitors have requested to stay an additional night. The academic unit should arrange for transportation of the site visitors to and from the airport, and provide a faculty/staff member to escort the site visitors if possible. The site visitors will have two busy days and will need time to themselves in order to relax and prepare their report. The evening hours of the site visitors should be kept free, following an early dinner if scheduled. Lavish entertaining is not expected or encouraged, and modest funding is provided for meals. Faculty members other than the chair (or another designated member) who go to dinner or lunch with the visitors will be responsible for their own expenses. Visitors will be reimbursed for reasonable costs and should be instructed to save receipts.

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