Subject: Academic Unit Review
Group: Institutional
Approved by: Senate
Approval date: 25 September 2007
Effective date: 25 September 2007
Revised: 10 December 2015
Administered by: Provost and Vice-President, Academic & Research
  

1 — PREAMBLE

Mount Allison University is committed to the principle of quality assurance in all of its academic programs. This policy reflects that commitment. It is in accordance with quality assurance processes of the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, the agency that assesses academic programs prior to their implementation and ensures a process to monitor institutional quality.

At Mount Allison University, there are two types of academic units. Some academic units are responsible for the design and delivery of a particular course or courses of study (such units are generally termed “departments” or “programs”); other academic units include academic staff whose responsibilities are primarily focused on the support of departments and programs delivering a particular course or courses of study. At Mount Allison, all academic units shall be reviewed according to the provisions of this policy.

The purpose of each academic unit review is a re-examination of the unit in order to develop strategies that will contribute to its advancement. The review will provide the unit with information, both qualitative and quantitative, and recommendations to serve as a basis for discussion, reflection, decision-making and planning in support of academic programs, research opportunities, partnerships, and unit infrastructure and administration.

Academic unit reviews are conducted at the level of the unit as a whole and are not concerned with the evaluation of the performance of individual employees, as provided for in the Collective Agreement between Mount Allison University and the Mount Allison Faculty Association.
  

2 — CYCLE OF REVIEWS

All academic units will be reviewed on an eight-year cycle, with two or three units being reviewed each year. Approximately four years after the initial review, an internal mid-term review will be scheduled. Individual circumstances in an academic unit may dictate an earlier or an off-cycle review. The final determination of the cycle of reviews shall be made by the University Planning Committee.
  

3 — ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITY

The co-ordination of all unit reviews is the responsibility of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research, working with University Planning Committee of Senate and following the guidelines set out in Article 7 of the Collective Agreement. The Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research, will be the office of record for the unit review process and shall keep copies of all documentation generated by the process.
  

4 — THE REVIEW PROCESS

4.1 Time frame
Reviews take place on an eight-year cycle. The review process itself is typically completed over a 12-month period as indicated below. Depending on the circumstances alternate time frames may be considered.

In the year prior to the start of the academic unit review, normally between May and December, the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research will notify the academic units to be reviewed. The self-study of each academic unit being reviewed shall be initiated during this period and the members of the review team will be identified.

In the year of the Academic review, the schedule will be as follows:

Mid-May
The academic unit identifies (in consultation with the Dean or University Librarian) possible members of the review team. Review teams consist of two content experts in the discipline/field, and one individual from another faculty at Mount Allison.

August 31
The academic unit completes the self-study report. In departmentalized Faculties, the self-study is submitted to the Dean.

Mid to late October
Site visit of the review team.

Within four weeks of the site visit, the review team shall submit its report and recommendations to the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research. Within 10 days of receipt of the report, the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research shall forward the report to the academic unit and the Dean (or University Librarian).

End of January
The Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research shall provide a copy of the review team report to the University Planning Committee.

The academic unit provides an informal response to the review team's report to the University Planning Committee.

End of February
The academic unit provides a formal response to the review team's report to the University Planning Committee.

Early March
The Provost prepares a summary of the Academic Unit Review which includes an overview of the self-study, the reviewers' report, the academic unit's response, and comments of the Provost and the University Planning Committee.

April
The summary of the Academic Unit Review is presented to Senate.

May onwards
The academic unit begins the process of implementing program changes on the basis of the reviewers' and the University Planning Committee's recommendations.

Approximately 15-18 months after the review has been completed, the Dean (or University Librarian) will meet with the academic unit to discuss the process of the implementation of recommendations arising from the academic unit review.

Midway through the cycle (by February in year 4), the department/program head (or a representative elected from among the librarian members of Library Council) meets with the University Planning Committee to discuss implementation of recommendations. In January of year 5, there will be follow-up on the academic unit review and preparation of priorities and directions for the next three years, in consultation with the Dean or University Librarian, as appropriate.

4.2 (a) Unit Self-Study: Academic Departments and Programs
The preparation of the self-study requires all members of the academic unit (including but not restricted to: full- and part-time faculty, instructors and technicians, support staff, etc.) to engage in a frank but balanced consideration of both strengths and areas of improvement, and to examine strategies for future changes. It is also essential that the self-study take into consideration the larger institutional issues and the vision, mission, goals, and priorities of the University, as articulated in the University's planning documents.

The self-study report serves as a primary document for the review team. The most successful reviews are assisted by self-studies that are well organized, clearly written, and complete but concise. While the most successful reviews result from inclusive processes that involve the majority, if not all, of the members of the unit at each stage of the review, the quality of the self-study may be enhanced if a small steering group is responsible for its preparation and drafts are circulated to all members for comment.

The goal is to provide the reviewers with sufficient information to have a broad understanding both of the unit and the context in which it operates. The Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research, working with the Dean, will in each case determine specific issues to be considered by the review team.

The self-study report must contain the information listed in Sections a-g, and must submit the appropriate Appendices. It is recommended that for prose answers, each subsection response be 300-600 words/1-2 pages long. Units may adjust the template to suit their individual circumstances, as long as the requested information is clearly presented.

a) Unit Vision/Goals and History of the Unit

  • i. vision and goals of the unit (educational, research, and other) including reflection on evolving patterns within the discipline beyond Mount Allison, and the unit's plans for addressing them.
  • ii. a brief history of the unit
  • iii. place of the unit within the broader context of the University (e.g., faculty placement, degrees, programs and cross-listed program contributions, and administrative structures within the Unit, including the administrator(s) that the Unit reports to).

b) Current Status: Staffing, Administration, Financial Resources and Infrastructure

  • i. overview of the unit’s staffing profile (individual staff profiles to be included in Appendices)
  • ii. description of administrative structure (headships, directorships, program directors/co-ordinators, technical support positions, secretarial and administrative support, etc.)
  • iii. overview statement on budgetary/funding resources, specifically on spending patterns regarding discretionary and endowment funds over the last 5 years (tables to be included in Appendices)
  • iv. infrastructure; physical and information resources (library resources, equipment, space/buildings, furnishings/outfitting, computer equipment, classroom/lab equipment, research and teaching equipment)

c) Unit Teaching profile

  • i. Pedagogical objectives: a description of the broad program objectives (e.g., breadth and depth of disciplinary knowledge, knowledge of disciplinary methodologies, application of knowledge in disciplinary work and beyond, communication and critical thinking skills in disciplinary work and beyond, student ability to work independently within a disciplinary context, and development of student professional capacity)
  • ii. Program Structures: Summary of learning/support objectives for each year level in  the unit’s programs, and an analysis of how these objectives are articulated and built upon throughout the program  
  • iii. Overview statement of institutional data on student enrollment patterns over a 5-10 year horizon (tables to be included in the Appendices)


d) Unit Research/Creative Activity Profile 

  • i. a description of the unit’s research/creative interests, projects, programs, and results/productions/events, with  comments on how they connect to pedagogical/student support activities
  • ii. description of research connections and collaborations with community service programs, including partnerships with other units, institutions, and organizations


e) Unit Community Service/Outreach Profile

  • i. description of unit’s community service interests and activities, including partnerships with other units, institutions, and organizations


f) Unit Strengths and Challenges: Present and Future

  • i. strengths of the unit
  • ii. challenges of the unit (current and anticipated)  
  • iii. unit’s future plans, areas of potential development, strategies, and program directions within the context of the challenges and opportunities described above, and also within the of the University’s vision, mission, goals and priorities, and the development of the discipline itself


g) Additional Special Issues Unique to the Unit

  • i. The Unit may include any additional specific issues to be considered by the review team

Appendices to the Self-Study: 

  • i. profiles of the academic staff: Each unit shall develop a uniform and brief CV format (1-2 pages) for academic staff, covering the previous 5 years, that presents their most significant achievements in teaching, research/creative activity, administrative service, and community service (e.g., university, local, regional, national, and international communities, including academic, professional, cultural, and social communities; see Appendix 1 of Policy 5900 for a CV template)
  • ii. enrollment statistics over the last 5 years (these data will be provided by the Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research)
  • iii. full program descriptions from the current Academic Calendar, and a clear breakdown of course rotations over the last 5 years (i.e., the year offered and instructor for each course in the calendar).
  • iv. discretionary and endowment spending: using information supplied by the Budget Officer, provide a table showing total discretionary (non-salary) budget for the last 5 years and categories in which it was spent; if there are departmental endowments add a 5 year summary of amounts available and spending history
  • v. additional material such as University and Faculty planning documents, academic calendars, or summaries of relevant student surveys (exit surveys, NSSE, CUSC, etc.) which may be provided by the department or the Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research, for inclusion in the self-study

4.2(b) The Library Self-Study
The preparation of the self-study requires all members of the Library (including but not restricted to: full- and part-time librarians and archivists, library support staff, etc.) to engage in a frank but balanced consideration of both strengths and areas of improvement, and to examine strategies for future changes. It is also essential that the self-study take into consideration the larger institutional issues and the vision, mission, goals, and priorities of the University, as articulated in the University’s planning documents.

The self-study report serves as a primary document for the review team. The most successful reviews are assisted by self-studies that are well organized, clearly written, and complete but concise. For the purposes of this Policy, the librarian members of the Library Council will elect from their ranks an individual whose responsibility will be to function in lieu of the normal Library Council Chair in all matters related to the organizing, oversight, and reporting requirements of this Policy. While the most successful reviews result from inclusive processes that involve the majority, if not all, of the members of the Library at each stage of the review, the quality of the self-study may be enhanced if a small steering group is responsible for its preparation and drafts are circulated to all members for comment.

The goal is to provide the reviewers with sufficient information to have a broad understanding both of the Library and the context in which it operates. The Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research, working with the University Librarian, will determine specific issues to be considered by the review team.

The self-study report must contain the information listed in Sections a-g, and must submit the appropriate Appendices. It is recommended that for prose answers, each subsection response be 300-600 words/1-2 pages long.

a) The Vision/Goals and History of the Library

  • i. vision and goals of the Library (service, educational, research, and other), including reflection on evolving patterns within library and information sciences beyond Mount Allison, and the Library’s plans for addressing them
  • ii. a brief history of the Library
  • iii. the place of the Library within the broader context of the University (e.g., curriculum and program development, faculty and student research, etc.)

b) Current Status: Staffing, Administration, Financial Resources and Infrastructure

  • i. an overview of the Library’s staffing profile (individual staff profiles to be included in Appendices)
  • ii. a description of the administrative structure (divisions within the library, support staff positions, secretarial and administrative support, etc.)
  • iii. an overview statement on budgetary/funding resources, specifically on spending patterns regarding discretionary and endowment funds over the last 5 years (tables to be included in Appendices)
  • iv. infrastructure; physical and information resources (library holdings by major categories, equipment, space/buildings, furnishings/outfitting, computer equipment, classroom and other bookable space)

c) The Library’s Support in the Area of Teaching and Learning

  • i. a description of the Library's support for the teaching and learning function of the University (including, for example, development of library resource materials, etc.)
  • ii. a description of Library's support for and involvement in information literacy
  • iii. an overview statement of relevant metrics related to the Library's involvement in, and support of, teaching and learning over a 5-10 year horizon (tables to be included in the Appendices)

d) The Library's Support in the Area of Research and Creative Activities

  • i. a description of the Library's support of research and creative activities across the University (including relevant metrics)

e) The Library's Community Service/Outreach Profile

  • i. a description of the Library's community service interests and activities, including partnerships with other units, institutions, and organizations


f) The Library's Strengths and Challenges: Present and Future

  • i. strengths of the Library
  • ii. challenges of the Library (current and anticipated)
  • iii. the Library's future plans, areas of potential development, strategies, and program directions within the context of the challenges and opportunities described above, and also within the University's vision, mission, goals and priorities

g) Additional Special Issues Unique to the Library

  • i. The Library may include any additional specific issues to be considered by the review team.

Appendices to the Self-Study: 

  • i. profiles of the professional  staff: Each unit shall develop a uniform and brief CV format (1-2 pages) for academic staff, covering the previous 5 years, that presents their most significant achievements in librarianship, teaching, research/creative activity, administrative service, and community service (e.g., university, local, regional, national, and international communities, including academic, professional, cultural, and social communities: see Appendix 1 of Policy 5900 for a CV template)
  • ii. utilization statistics over last 5 years
  • iii. discretionary and endowment spending: using information supplied by the Budget Officer, provide a table showing total discretionary (non-salary) budget for the last 5 years and categories in which it was spent; if there are departmental endowments add a 5 year summary of amounts available and spending history
  • iv. additional material such as University and Faculty planning documents, library or other user survey data, data reported to the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), etc.

4.2(c) Self-Studies for Other Academic Units
For units other than academic departments and programs responsible for the delivery of a particular course or courses of study and the Library, the components of the self-study shall be determined on a case-by-case basis through consultations between the unit head and the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research, and this information will be shared with the University Planning Committee.

4.3 Review Team Selection
The review team shall consist of three members, chosen by the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research, from a shortlist of 5-6 names agreed upon by the academic unit and the Dean (or University Librarian). The shortlist should include a very brief statement about each of the external nominees and a rationalization for their nomination. The form for review team nominations is found in Appendix 2 of Policy 5900.

At least two members (including the chair) of the review team will be well-respected, impartial experts in the particular discipline or area, normally chosen from other universities. The other member may be a Mount Allison faculty member from a different academic unit (and normally from another Faculty). Wherever appropriate, one of the members may be replaced by a member of the relevant professional community. All members of the review team shall be chosen to avoid any real or perceived conflict of interest.

Once the review team is selected only the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research, shall communicate directly with the review team. Academic units are not to contact members of the review team directly without the approval of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research.

4.4 Site Visit
The review team will visit the university for two to three days, prior to preparing its report. While on campus the review team will consult widely with academic and administrative staff, students, and administrators involved with the programs and activities of the unit under review.

The visit of the review team is to be advertised widely to the university community with an invitation for those who have a vested interest in the program(s) to contribute a written brief or to meet with the review team. The schedule of interviews during the visit will be developed by the unit under review with appropriate input from the office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research. Alumni and external partners may also be consulted, where appropriate and depending on the program.

4.5 Terms of Reference for the Review Team
Without intending to restrict the scope of the review, the review team is expected to:

  1. provide an assessment of the numbers and diversity of academic and non-academic staff and their responsibilities, the resources provided and the appropriateness of their use, the effectiveness of the unit’s organization, the suitability of the work space, the relations of the unit to others, the quality of educational opportunities provided to students, and the effectiveness of the means or measures to evaluate student and program success.
  2. provide an opinion on the quality of the scholarly, research and creative activities within the academic unit overall as distinguished from the evaluation of individual members of the academic unit (consistent with Article 7.01 of the Collective Agreement) and the effectiveness of the relationships between teaching and research and creative activities — at both the graduate and undergraduate levels; in the case of the library, provide an opinion on the quality of the services and operations of the library and the effectiveness of the relationships between other academic units and the library;
  3. offer specific recommendations that will be a catalyst for re-examining and re-visioning in the short term (next two years), medium term (3 to 5 years) and long-term (5+ years) to support the unit in its future advancement and development; and
  4. respond to any additional terms of reference developed by the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research. The findings and recommendations of the review team should be presented in the form of a brief, concisely written report (with an executive summary) which will be received by the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research. Provided that matters of individual sensitivity or confidentiality are handled with discretion, the report (in its entirety) will be made available to the Dean (or University Librarian), the unit under review, and the University Planning Committee. Normally, the report will be considered a public document and at the completion of the review process will be available (on request) to members of Senate along with the unit’s response.

4.6 Response and Implementation
On receipt of the report the members of the unit will meet to discuss it. The Dean and the unit head (or in the case of the library, the University Librarian and the individual selected by the librarian members of Library Council) will then meet with the University Planning Committee to review the report. Based on the report itself, comments received from the University Planning Committee, and relevant university planning documents, the unit will then prepare a formal written response. The response will address the issues raised and clearly outline priorities and future directions over the next three to five years — where possible describing goals and timelines for achieving them. As such it should be prepared in close partnership with the Dean (or University Librarian). The response and any subsequent comments from the University Planning Committee will inform the unit’s (and, as relevant, the Faculty’s) long-term strategic planning.

The Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research, shall prepare for Senate a brief (1-2 pages) summary of the issues identified in the self-study, the external report, and the unit response. This summary shall identify the next steps, if any, to be taken by the University.

4.7 Follow-up
Approximately 15-18 months after the formal written response is received by the University Planning Committee, the Dean will meet with the academic unit to discuss progress in response to the review and implementation of the recommendations. The Dean will make an oral report on this meeting to the University Planning Committee. (A similar process will be followed in the library, with the University Librarian making an oral report to the University Planning Committee.)

Four years after the review (mid-way before the next review) the unit will submit a brief progress report in which members of the unit comment on the outcomes of the review and initiatives undertaken in response to it and any comments from the University Planning Committee. In particular they will be asked to describe initiatives and plans for the coming 4 years until the next review takes place. The midterm review will be reported and any comments from the University Planning Committee will be made available on request.
  

5 — REVIEW
The process described in this document will be reviewed by the University Planning Committee every five years.
 


Appendix 1

Name
Abbreviated CV
Date

Education

Professional Employment  

  • Current position
  • Previous positions (if relevant)

Teaching (recent offerings)

Research and Creative Activities  

  • Key publications or performances in the past 5 years  
  • Major research or other funding held in the past 5 years  
  • Conference presentations in the past 5 years  
  • Patents (if relevant)

Professional Service  

  • Departmental service  
  • Faculty service
  • University service
  • Service to the profession

 


Appendix 2

Nomination Form for Academic Unit Review Team Members
Departments shall confer with the Dean of the Faculty in preparing a list of 5-6 potential Academic Unit Review Team Members. The Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research shall select members of the Review Team, taking into consideration the disciplinary expertise of nominees, and representation based on factors such as regional representation, sex, and experience in, or knowledge of, primarily undergraduate universities.

The following information shall be provided for each of 5-6 nominees.

  • Name
  • Department and university affiliation
  • Academic rank
  • Administrative experience, if any
  • Rationale for nomination
  • Contact information
    • phone number
    • e-mail address