External Review Next Steps & A Word of Thanks

by Vice Provost Potts | September 2018


Dear colleagues,

I want to thank you all for the work you put into the OUE unit review that just took place. Many of you played a major role in providing content data for the self-study report that we sent to the review team in advance. I met with one of the college deans today and was told (not entirely thankfully) that we had set a very high standard for reviews! Everyone played a significant role in the quality of the product we generated, but I want to take the opportunity to call out Steven Girardot and Roberta Berry for coordinating the effort, Casey Chaviano for her superb data analysis, and Cory Hopkins for making the self-study document appear so professional – with the appropriate level of sizzle. The review team was extremely impressed by the report.

Many of you were also involved in the meetings that took place on Tuesday with the panel. Obviously, I was not at the meetings, but the panel members reported that they were very impressed by the commitment you showed. Although I heard what you told them only in summarized and aggregated form it’s very obvious to me that you made many thoughtful and constructive comments that will make us even better. So did many colleagues in the colleges and other administrative units, and it’s a testament to the high regard they hold you in that they too gave up an hour of their day to talk about us. I’m really pleased. Thank you.

What Happens Next:

  1. The review team gave a presentation at the end of their visit to the provost, Jennifer Herazy, Loraine Phillips, Steven Girardot and me at which they summarized their high-level observations, which took the form of a modified SWOT analysis. I was struck and delighted by the acuteness of many of their observations. Over the next few weeks they will convert their summary into a document that will be sent to Dr. Bras and then shared with everyone. At that point the review panel’s involvement is concluded.
  2. After that, Steven and I will convene a series of meetings within OUE to discuss our response. All of the panel’s observations and recommendations will be addressed in some fashion. Addressing an observation could mean (1) wholehearted acceptance, (2) comments on how the observation is broadly right or wrong and should be addressed in an appropriately modified way on an appropriate schedule, or (3) the observation is either wrong for reasons that a short visit from people outside the institute could not understand or is right but just not practical or a priority for us to address at present. These three responses are exactly how every academic program and other academic unit is required to respond to a program or unit review’s observations and recommendations. Given the panel’s presentation yesterday, I already know that some of the comments will be unit-specific, and others will be OUE-wide. So some of our discussions will therefore be at unit level, while others will need a cross-functional approach. I’m not sure yet how we’ll manage this process, but it will be consultative, inclusive and iterative.
  3. Within six months of receipt of the unit review document, we will have another small meeting like the readout meeting I attended yesterday but without the external review panel to discuss the response document. The panel’s review document and OUE’s response is held on file by the Office of Assessment.
  4. The final decisions about ongoing strategic direction and budgets will be with Dr. Bras and me. However, over the next several years our strategies and requests for new/revised program budgets will be expected to be consistent with our response – pretty consistent to start with, and more loosely over time as the context changes.
  5. After seven years we (or our descendants) will work on another self-study and the process will repeat.

Last year Enrollment Services were the guinea pigs in this review process. Based on that experience and with the arrival of Loraine Phillips, we have been the first unit to go through a mature and repeatable process. Next year, Graduate Education & Faculty Development, and the year after that International Initiatives, will be the beneficiaries of what we have learned. Your colleagues in those units may reach out to you for advice when they start their self-studies.

Thanks again for a superb demonstration of teamwork and excellence,