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Academic Council Procedures Manual

Departmental Review

The following procedures were approved by the Academic Council on November 8, 1995 (includes revisions on May 6, 1998, May 3, 2000, May 30, 2001, April 17, 2002, April 22, 2008, and September 3, 2008)

It is the intention of the Academic Council for departments to be reviewed every four years. There are 22 departments in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, 9 in the Whiting School of Engineering, including the undergraduate and master's programs in Biomedical Engineering, and several academic units including centers, institutes, and programs. Therefore, at least 8 departments will be reviewed each year.

Review Process

The process consists of the following steps:

1. Preparation of a self-study by the chair and faculty in the department.

2. Review of the department by an Academic Council subcommittee that includes one member who is external to the Academic Council. The review committee will prepare a document describing the results of the review.

3. Written response by the department chair to the report of the Academic Council subcommittee.

4. In-depth discussion between the Council and the department chair.


Departments are asked to specifically address the issues specified below. To limit the amount of time departments may feel compelled to devote to this part of the process, the body of the self-study report should be limited to no more than ten single spaced pages with a limited number of appendices. Issues to be addressed:

1. Subfields and interests covered by the department within the broader subject that the department represents, and major subfields and interests not currently covered.

2. Current trends and/or major changes in the discipline(s)

Description of how the department is addressing the trends and/or changes

3. Faculty recruitment, promotion, and retention

Include the department’s experience regarding women and underrepresented minorities.

4. Department's role in both graduate and undergraduate programs of the School and the University.

5. Graduate student recruitment and retention

Include the department’s experience regarding women and underrepresented minorities.

6. Assessment of the quality of the graduate student in the department

In assessing the graduate students, information such as program attrition, yield, students’ time to degree, and placement following degree may be included. If available, comparative statistics from peer departments may be included.

7. Research activities

Include interactions with other departments and divisions

8. Teaching activities

Include interactions with other departments and divisions.

Information for the past two years on the number of courses at the different levels (i.e. 100, 200, 300…) taught by tenured and tenure-track faculty, by non-tenure-track faculty, and by graduate students.

9. Assessment of the quality of teaching and advising in the department.

10. Overall reputation and quality of department and comparisons with similar departments at other institutions that are highly regarded (where appropriate, include quantitative information)

11. General departmental strengths

12. General departmental weaknesses

13. Future directions.

Self-Study: Appendices

Appendices are not intended to replace the narrative elements of the self-study. Attached are tables to aid in the preparation of such appendices.

List of faculty
Include rank and other affiliations. Department-wide etc. grant support (e.g. training grants and center support) should be included here.

Abbreviated faculty CVs (please limit to ONE page in length**)
Include major research interests, individual grant support (include dates and amounts of all currently-held grants and status of renewals and new applications), and/or other indicators of scholarly achievement

**If possible, limit to one page in lenght. Standard NSF two page CVs and current and pending grant information are also acceptable

Information on graduate students
Statistical information on admissions and progress of graduate students as indicated in accompanying spreadsheets

Departments should also provide information on individual graduate students, using the accompanying spreadsheets as a model. They should in all cases provide the name of prior institution(s) and degree(s) obtained prior to attendance. In addition, where possible, we urge departments to include the following information as well:

  • GRE scores
  • Time to degree
  • Placement following degree
  • Other objective measures of their academic strength on entering the program

Academic Council Subcommittee Review

The Council will have in its possession all recent statistical data concerning the departments to be reviewed and the departmental self-study documents. Faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students should be interviewed, and facilities should be investigated. It is recommended that the subcommittee meet separately with tenured and non-tenured faculty and make itself available to faculty members who request individual meetings. The draft reports should be given to the chairs. The following motion was approved by the Academic Council on April 19, 1995 (and modified on May 6, 1998)

"Departmental self-study reports and the final report of the subcommittee of the Academic Council shall be made available to all members of the department. Confidential personnel issues should be confined to separate communications to be shared only by the Council and the department chair."

Timetable for Departmental Academic Reviews

At the end of each academic year, the Deans will present a list of suggested departments to be reviewed by the Council. The Council will decide which departments and other academic units will be reviewed in the following semester. Departments will be notified by the Dean during the summer and asked to prepare a self-study. Early in the Fall semester, Council members will be apprised of the Deans' views on departments up for review.

September/October: Deans' presentation to Council.

October 1: Self-study due.

First Academic Council meeting in October: Self-studies completed and passed on to Council subcommittees. Council reviews of departments commence.

Mid-December: Subcommittee reviews completed and passed back to departments, with department's comments to be returned early January.

Mid-January: Academic Council discussions with Chairs.



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