Undergraduate and graduate programs are thoroughly reviewed every ten years; the UW System also exercises oversight of programmatic quality through a separate review process.
Undergraduate program reviews are conducted by the Academic Program and Curriculum Committee. This standing faculty committee is responsible for conducting program reviews on a scheduled basis, and for approving new courses, significant changes in existing courses, admission and degree requirements. In addition, the committee serves as the policy body for the General Education Requirements.
Each year the committee reviews four to six of the 46 departments and schools that offer baccalaureate majors. The department conducts a self-study following the guidelines required by the committee. Reviews are conducted by three UWM faculty members from other disciplines and forwarded to the committee for review and recommendations. The reports are then forwarded to the Vice Chancellor for review and approval. The Vice Chancellor reviews the findings and recommendations with the appropriate Dean.
Program review generates a strengths-and-weakness type of analysis that guides departments in curricular and program development activities. Historically, these reviews identified the need for new or additional fiscal resources and additional faculty positions and addressed curricular concerns. More recent reviews have focused on improving quality within the existing resources of the school or college. Starting in 2003-04, the program review guidelines require reporting on how program faculty members are assessing student learning outcomes and what changes have been made to the program as a result of these activities.
In the case of graduate program review, the Graduate Faculty Council (GFC) serves as the governing body for curricular and programmatic issues. Through its Committee on Reviews (COR), the council reviews and approves all admission standards, program changes, graduation requirements and issues of program integrity. Each year the council reviews four or five of the 48 masterís and 20 doctoral programs. These reviews follow the same self-study approach that is used for the undergraduate programs. During these comprehensive reviews, faculty research, student achievement, performance, and satisfaction, alumni placement, and the overall adequacy of program resources are assessed and compared with the standards of the University and the discipline.
Two experts in the discipline from other universities plus three UWM faculty members from other disciplines conduct the reviews. The external discipline experts file individual reports, which are incorporated into the Graduate Faculty Council report. Council members then review the reports and make a series of recommendations on the continuation and improvement of the program to the Dean of the Graduate School. The Graduate School Dean then presents these findings and his or her own conclusions to the Provost, who, in turn, meets with the Dean of the appropriate school or college for final consideration of the report. The graduate program reviews also require a two-year follow-up process in order to monitor how review recommendations are being implemented. During 2003-04, the Graduate Faculty Council revised the program review guidelines to incorporate questions about assessment of student learning outcomes. The campus has also made efforts to coordinate graduate and undergraduate program reviews so that undergraduate programs also have the input of external experts in the discipline. Joint program review guidelines are in draft form and are expected to be approved by both committees this academic year. These guidelines also address assessment as an important component of program quality.