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Board of Governors Program Review

Program Review

The purpose of institutional program review is to evaluate all academic programs (certificates, undergraduate, graduate, and professional) at least once every five years; the Provost's Office and each individual college or school's dean's office can initiate the program review process at any time. The basis of a program review is a self-study performed by an individual unit as part of their ongoing program improvement activities. WVU's Board of Governors Rule 2.2 delineates the institutional authority and responsibilities for the review of academic programs. Program review is also a component of institutional accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission. Sub-component 4.A.1 requires that "The institution maintains a practice of regular program reviews and acts upon the findings."

For academic units to advance proposals for new academic programs, all units within the department must be up to date on academic program review. Compliance with the academic program review requirement is an indication of the unit’s capacity to evaluate and maintain program quality and effectiveness.

The primary purposes of these reviews is to:

1) ensure that programs are dedicated to and engaged with a continuous improvement process and that they are directed to and connected with the relevant resources to support the areas in which they are striving to improve;

2) ensure the viability of the institution's academic offerings;

3) engage faculty in making strategic decisions about the institution's academic portfolio.

Additional information on program review procedures and the timeline for program review is available as well as resources and FAQs.

Review Criteria

Program reviews are broadly arranged around the following areas:

  • Mission: Programs are expected to contribute to and align with the core mission, values, and vision of the university.
  • Facilities and Equipment: Programs should have adequate and accessible infrastructural support needed to provide a strong academic experience.
  • Faculty Composition and Productivity: Faculty are the foundation of degree programs and contribute to the success of the institution's students and the institution itself. The viability of a program is dependent upon a critical mass of faculty, their credentials, and their research, teaching, and service.
  • Student Enrollment, Retention, Persistence, and Graduation History: The strength of a program's students and their success over the course of their academic career as well as after they graduate are key indicators of program viability and sustainability.
  • Assessment: Ongoing program assessment of student learning and program performance is critical to identifying, understanding, addressing, and improving the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in academic programs. Assessment of student learning outcomes is fundamental to program assessment as is the continual evaluation and adjustment of curricula and pedagogical approaches. Program review also evaluates program activities that are designed to enhance other aspects of the educational experience within the program and at the institution at large.
  • Program Improvement : Cutting across all review areas, program review is designed to show evidence that programs are working toward continuous improvement as well as to put them into contact with university resources to support them in their endeavors.

For five-year comprehensive undergraduate program reviews, the Undergraduate Council is responsible for conducting the initial program reviews. Five-year comprehensive program reviews for graduate programs and professional programs are reviewed by the Graduate Council.

The Assistant Provost for Curriculum and Assessment is responsible for reviewing and revising the program review process itself.

The University is required to submit a summary report for each program every five years to the WVU  Board of Governors and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (W. Va. Code §18B-1B-4and 18B-2A-4).

Outcomes of Program Review

All programs that undergo program review will receive one of the following institutional recommendations. The initial recommendations are made by either the Graduate or Undergraduate Council, forwarded to the Office of the Provost, and then finally presented to the Board of Governors. A summary report of the program review that has the final recommendation and any required follow-up actions will be sent back to the programs and their respective college deans.

The institution is obligated to recommend continuation or discontinuation for each program reviewed. In the recommendation, the relevant Council should provide specific actions that may be a contingency of the recommendation. The possible recommendations are:

  • Continuation of the program at the current level of activity without specific action;
  • Continuation of the program at the current level of activity with specific action (e.g., follow-up reporting on assessment practices, follow-up on program enrollment, follow-up on adequacy of faculty or facilities);
  • Continuation of the program at a reduced level of activity (e.g., required attrition planning to align FTE-to-student ratio over the next program review cycle, reduction of current instructional personnel in the unit through RIF or non-renewal);
  • Identification of the program for further development (e.g., required allocation of resources to the program, whether personnel or facilities);
  • Development of a cooperative program with another unit, or sharing of courses, facilities, faculty, and the like (e.g., discontinuance of current program to be delivered as an Area of Emphasis within another program, discontinuance of current program and another program to be replaced by one single new program);;
  • Discontinuance of the program.

The reviewing Council may request additional information from the program before making its recommendation and may recommend continuance on a provisional basis along with a request for interim monitoring reports.

Programs may also request the Program of Excellence designation.

Appeal of Program Review Recommendations

Any preliminary recommendation of the Provost's Office and the academic unit resulting from the program review process may be appealed to the Institutional Program Review Appeals Committee, per Board of Governors rule 2.2. Those appeals should be filed by the department chair or program director / coordinator via this appeal notification form.

Principles of Program Review

  • Transparency: Program faculty have access to the same data that will be used in the process and there is procedural transparency as well. 
  • Peer review: Program review recommendations are made by the faculty who serve on the Graduate and Undergraduate Councils. The Associate Provosts of Graduate and Undergraduate Education and the Assistant Provost for Curriculum and Assessment do not vote in the proceedings.
  • Dialogic: While there is a formal appeal process available to programs, the focus of program review is program improvement through dialog between the program, its home academic unit, and the Provost's Office. The recommendations and their associated follow-up actions are just that: recommendations.