Audit and Review of Academic Programs
Given the need for a rational, systematic and continuous effort to use resources wisely, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater bases its decisions on the results of audit and review processes conducted on a regular basis. These audit and review processes are intended to:
- Improve the quality of undergraduate and graduate programs;
- Identify needs for additional study and/or planning;
- Help set priorities for allocation/reallocation of resources within or among programs,
departments or colleges, and ensure overall institutional financial equilibrium;
- Define and ensure appropriate standards for program quality;
- Identify the needs and unique circumstances of specific programs;
- Identify non-functional or unnecessarily duplicative programs;
- Identify needs for structural changes in programs or administrative units.
The audit and review process at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is intended to facilitate continuous program improvement and is conducted for all instructional areas on a five year cycle. It is carried out at the undergraduate level by the University Audit and Review Committee. As a faculty committee, it has been charged by the Faculty Senate with the following responsibilities.
- Be responsible for the audit and review of existing undergraduate academic departments and programs and of academic support programs and activities at the University, on a regular schedule, and of newly established undergraduate academic programs as required by the University of Wisconsin System.
- Form an audit and review team for the conduct of each audit and review, which shall include at least one member of the University Audit and Review Committee and may include persons from outside the University.
- Make reports of audit and review, each of which shall include discussion of:
- the quality of existing activities, staff, facilities and equipment, and budget
- the demand and need for the program or programs reviewed
- anticipated future developments which may affect either of these subjects
- what changes in the program or programs are recommended
- All reports and recommendations of this committee shall be made for informational purposes to the Faculty Senate, the University Curriculum Committee, the Academic Development Committee, the Faculty Budget Committee, and the Academic Affairs Staff.
The Graduate Audit and Review Committee is an administrative committee whose duties "include reviewing and coordinating new graduate degree program proposals, assessing immediate and changing needs, auditing programs and recommending the phasing out of programs. It may also make recommendations on the development of new graduate degree programs." (Faculty Handbook) Various other campus committees or offices have ancillary or supportive roles in the audit and review process. The General Education Review Committee is responsible for the audit and review of the general education program.
The University Assessment Committee ensures that all academic programs develop and maintain adequate assessment efforts, and provides assessment information on each academic program for the audit and review processes. The Strategic Planning and Budget Committee conducts an evaluation process to facilitate allocation/reallocation of resources. This evaluation is coordinated with the other audit and review processes and will be conducted campus-wide on a five-year cycle. Finally, the Office of Institutional Research maintains appropriate databases and provides official data to be used for all audit and review processes. This official data provides the basis for the self-studies prepared by the academic departments and other program units, and the official reports are included as appendices to the self-studies.
Program Evaluation, Assessment of Student Learning, and Accreditation
Information from program evaluation and the assessment of student learning is critical in the audit and review of all academic programs. During the audit and review process, academic programs receive feedback on their mission statements and systematic processes for setting and assessing program goals. Programs also define student learning outcomes and report data related to assessment of these outcomes. Data from program evaluation and from assessments of student learning are used to inform program changes and improvements. Where appropriate, evaluations from external accrediting agencies are included in the audit and review process.
Leadership and Coordination
The Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs provides the over-all leadership for all audit and review processes at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The Provost is supported in this responsibility by the Associate Vice Chancellor, who chairs both the University and Graduate Audit and Review Committees; the Chairperson of the University Assessment Committee; and the Director of Institutional Research. In conjunction with these individuals, the Provost seeks to maintain efficient and effective audit and review processes by integrating on-campus audit and review processes, and by coordinating on-campus audit and review processes with accreditation and other external reviews. In addition, the Provost serves as Chairperson of the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee.
The Associate Vice Chancellor maintains schedules of the audit and review processes for undergraduate and graduate programs. These schedules are coordinated to accommodate academic departments with both undergraduate and graduate programs, and are approved by the Provost. Whenever possible and appropriate, on-campus audit and review processes are coordinated with accreditation and other external reviews. Academic departments and other program units subject to accreditation may negotiate scheduling the on-campus audit and review processes immediately before, during or immediately after the year of accreditation.
Academic departments and other program units subject to five and ten year accreditation cycles participate in the on-campus audit and review processes every five years. Academic departments and other program units subject to other accreditation cycles participate in the on-campus audit and review processes at least every five years, adjusted to coincide with the accreditation cycle. Academic departments and other program units not subject to accreditation are reviewed every five years. An approximately equal number of academic departments and other program units are reviewed each year.
Preparation of Self-Studies
The Associate Vice Chancellor establishes deadlines for the preparation of self-studies by academic departments and other program units, provides information concerning the scope and format for the self-studies, and coordinates the preparation of assessment information and official reports with the Director of Institutional Research. The academic departments and other programs units are responsible for the proper preparation and completion of the self-studies concerning their academic programs. Assessment information and information from Institutional Research provide the basis for the self-studies prepared by the academic departments and other program units. This information is included as appendices to the self-studies.
The college deans are responsible for reviewing and forwarding completed self-studies to the Associate Vice Chancellor. Each college and/or college dean may establish preliminary audit and review processes at the college level, involving faculty committees and/or administrative committees and/or administrative review. The Associate Vice Chancellor distributes copies of the self-studies for undergraduate programs to all members of the University Audit and Review Committee and copies of the self-studies for graduate programs to all members of the Graduate Audit and Review Committee.
Audit and Review Committees
The University Audit and Review Committee and the Graduate Audit and Review Committee - dealing with undergraduate and graduate program self-studies, respectively - conduct comprehensive reviews of the documents prepared by the audited academic programs or other operational units. The content of the self-studies is augmented by information and data from the Assessment Committee and the Office of Institutional Research. Additional information from accrediting agencies or external consultants may also be utilized where deemed appropriate.
From its review of the self-studies, each committee drafts a final report on each audited program, identifying programmatic strengths and weaknesses, making recommendations for specific required and/or suggested action(s), and recommending a summary conclusion. Each draft report is forwarded to the appropriate dean and to the affected department or unit with a request for a meeting to discuss the report. Following these meetings, each committee finalizes its report(s).
Audit and Review Options
In recommending a summary conclusion for an audited program, the University Audit and Review Committee and the Graduate Audit and Review Committee may choose from the six options below.
- Recommend continuation of the academic program without qualification.
- Recommend continuation of the academic program subject to minor concerns.
- Recommend continuation of the academic program subject to annual reports from the college dean on progress remedying deficiencies until the noted deficiencies are corrected.
- Withhold recommendation for continuation of the academic program, place the academic program on probation, and require another complete audit and review within one to three years at the committee's discretion.
- Withhold recommendation for continuation of the academic program, place the academic program on probation, recommend placing the academic program in academic receivership within the college, and require another complete audit and review within one to three years at the committee's discretion.
- Recommend non-continuation of the academic program.
Reporting and Feedback
The University Audit and Review Committee and the Graduate Audit and Review Committee each prepares an annual report which is delivered to the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and to affected college deans. Copies of these reports are also provided to the Dean of Graduate Studies, Continuing Education and Summer Session; the University Curriculum Committee; the Faculty Senate; the Academic Development Committee; the Faculty Budget Committee; the Graduate Council; and, individually, to the dean and chair of each affected program. The University Curriculum Committee and the Graduate Council respond to the reports and make recommendations to the Provost relative to their specific areas of responsibility.
The Provost distributes the specific observations, recommendations and expectations for each academic program to the college deans and to the Dean of Graduate Studies, Continuing Education and Summer Session. The college deans and the Dean of Graduate Studies, Continuing Education and Summer Session report annually to the Provost concerning progress in response to previous audit and review recommendations.