The Provost of the University conducts Academic Reviews of schools and other academic units at regular (5-7 year) intervals. The purpose of the Academic Reviews is to assess the current state, future trajectory, and likely challenges facing academic units whose quality and reputation are vital to the University’s mission.
Academic Reviews of schools assess the educational quality of their degree programs, their relative success in recruiting and retaining top research and teaching faculty, the satisfaction and success of their graduates, their capacity for improvement as measured by the fit between their ambitions and resources, and the vision and leadership reflected in their strategic planning. They also evaluate student learning goals and outcomes and how they link to the overall organizational assessment. The process is complementary to the annual strategic review.
With the self-study at its core, the Academic Review supports the development of a long-term strategy that requires rigor, critical self-evaluation, responsiveness to student needs, and adroit fundraising. All parties involved in a school’s review examine significant strengths and relative weaknesses, how to leverage opportunities in their particular competitive arena, how to improve faculty recruitment and retention, whether the school is appropriately maximizing its unique location in New York City, and how to further its global reach. The exercise also expands upon certain elements of the annual strategic review by providing deeper context and further developing key themes.
- Self-study. The Provost communicates with the dean of the school or director of the unit requesting a self-study assessing the program of the school or unit since its last review, or over the preceding 5-7 year period. The Provost and the dean/director agree on the timeframe for the start and completion of the review.
- Solicitation of school opinion. The Provost communicates with the full-time faculty members of the school/unit under review to solicit, in confidence, their views on the state of the school/unit, its trajectory, and the most significant challenges it faces. The Provost’s communication also invites, in confidence, the views of the faculty on the stewardship of the incumbent dean/director. The Provost may also meet with faculty governing bodies and individual faculty members. Additionally, the Provost may solicit confidential opinions from selected members of the school or unit’s community, including but not limited to, the school’s advisory board or board of visitors, and selected student and alumni leaders and organizations.
- External review committee. An external panel of scholars and experts designated by the Provost visits the university to meet with faculty, students, and relevant deans and administrators, as well as members of the internal review committee. In advance of the visit, the external review committee is provided with the school’s self-study report. It may request additional information from the school/unit and from the Office of the Provost. The external committee submits a report to the Provost.
- Internal review committee. The Provost designates the members of the internal review committee. No member of a school under review may serve on that internal review committee. Committee members are usually faculty members selected from related disciplines throughout the institution. The internal review committee is provided with the school’s self-study and with the external review committee’s report to the Provost. Members of the committee may meet with faculty and students in the program, relevant deans and administrators, and in some instances alumni. The committee is encouraged to meet with any other individuals it deems relevant to the review. It may request additional information from the school/unit and from the Office of the Provost. The internal committee submits a report to the Provost.
- Summary report. Once the external and internal review committees have concluded their review the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs will work closely with the Provost to summarize the external and internal committee reports into a final summary report. The report will provide an assessment of the school/unit and contain recommendations from the external and internal reports to address any identified issues. The final report will be shared with the dean/director who will have the opportunity to correct any factual errors. The final report is confidential and will only be shared with relevant faculty by the dean/director.
- Academic reviews and strategic reviews. Progress in addressing the recommendations and other issues raised in the academic review process is assessed in annual strategic review meetings with each dean. These meetings, held in the fall, are initiated by the Provost and include the school dean and the Executive Vice President for Finance and Information Technology.
Academic Reviews of other units address their contributions to the research, teaching, and service activities of the institution and generally follow the process described above, with adjustments to take into account their diversity of mission and structure.