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Benefits of Program Review

Opportunity for self-study, strategic planning, and change in units
Program Review ensures that each unit systematically takes time to step back from everyday challenges to evaluate its strengths, weaknesses, and progress in order to create a strong foundation for the development of future strategic plans and priorities.

Mechanism to facilitate continuous improvement
The specific recommendations included in the implementation agreements resulting from Program Review help units benchmark progress in critical areas.

Information utilized in area-wide and university-wide strategic planning and decision-making
Program Review has created a base of knowledge and shared understanding that provides a critical backdrop to school and University decision-making processes, including the setting of priorities, hiring plans, budget setting, space allocations, fundraising priorities, and program sizing.

Improved communication and collaboration
Program Review is designed to foster communication both within the unit as well as between the unit and central administration. The process also provides an opportunity for each member of the unit to provide feedback to external reviewers. Through the review process, units are able to identify and connect with actual and/or potential collaborating units within Northwestern.

Candid assessment by external experts
Program Review provides a mechanism for rigorous evaluation and feedback by experts in the field that are valued by both the unit and the administration (In some cases, the department or dean has used the panel of outside experts for continuing consultations after the review).

Interdisciplinary understanding and socialization
Faculty and administrators frequently remark on the improved understanding among related units thanks to the involvement of internal reviewers. A similar benefit is seen in faculty-administration relations as a result of faculty subcommittees gaining a deeper understanding of the administrative operations of the University.

Appreciation of complexity and diversity of the University
Whether it is the variance in governance between departments or the details of what drives excellence across varied fields, Program Review makes these differences more visible and helps the University strategically address these variations in constructive ways.

Increased external visibility
External reviewers often note the unanticipated strengths they observe at Northwestern or comment on the deepening of their respect for the institution as a result of their visit. The Program Review process also fosters dialogue amongst exemplary peers about the most effective ways to assess the quality of the University.

Accountability mechanism with the Board of Trustees
Each year, review summaries, implementation agreements, and follow-up reports are provided to the Board of Trustees. The candor and commitment represented by this effort provides an important assurance to the Board that the University is evaluating itself and continually striving for improvement. The Board's faith in this process is also evidenced by its request to be reviewed at the end of each cycle.

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