Program Review Process
All academic departments, major research centers, and administrative units at Northwestern University are reviewed once every seven to ten years through the Program Review process. For each review, a team of 4-5 reviewers, consisting of both external experts and Northwestern faculty, meet with faculty/staff and key constituents of the unit before providing a written summary report of their recommendations. These recommendations form the basis of an implementation agreement with specific action items for the unit. The process is guided by the Office of Administration and Planning and overseen by the Program Review Council (PRC), a rotating committee of senior faculty and administrators who have been nominated from across the university.
Unit Self-AssessmentEach unit undergoing review provides a list of key issues faced by the unit, which helps inform the unit's self-study. The self-study is an analysis of the current state of the unit that identifies specific issues critical to the further improvement of the unit and the fundamental questions that should drive strategic planning for the unit moving forward. The key issues list and self-study are informed by data collection and analysis. The Office of Administration and Planning works with the unit under review to define, collect, and analyze key performance indicators, such as student composition (e.g., average course enrollments), student satisfaction, (e.g., course feedback), student performance (e.g., graduate student placements) and faculty performance (e.g., publications and citation data, research awards). The Office of Administration and Planning also administers and analyzes faculty/staff surveys (and customer feedback surveys, if applicable) that serve as input to the review.
Review and External ReportExternal and internal reviewers jointly meet with faculty, administrators, staff, and students (as appropriate) to gain further insight into the state of the unit and discuss key issues. The review team also meets with the Dean/Line Vice President of the unit and members of central administration to share their initial impressions. Following the review, a report is written by the external reviewers and may include an addendum by the internal reviewers. This document is an analysis of the review materials as well as insight gained from the meetings with key individuals from the unit. It includes specific recommendations for the continuous improvement of the unit. The review team's report and recommendations are submitted to the unit under review for fact-checking. The internal reviewers present the report to the Program Review Council for questions and clarifications.
Program Review CouncilThe Program Review Council is a group of senior faculty and administrators that oversees the Program Review process. The Program Review Council is nominated based upon recommendations from Deans and Vice Presidents.
The role of the Program Review Council is to review all external reports and guide the development of actionable implementation agreements. Once external reports are received, the Program Review Council reviews the reports and meets with the internal reviewers for an in-depth discussion and presentation of the report. The Program Review Council is responsible for drafting the implementation agreement that follows the discussion.
Implementation AgreementFor each unit, unit leadership, the Dean/Line Vice President, and central administration discuss the recommendations from the external reviewer reports and agree on a set of specific actions to implement.
Follow-UpAfter the review, an executive summary of each external reviewer report and implementation agreement is prepared and provided to the Board of Trustees.
One year following the review, the Office of Administration and Planning conducts a follow-up report on the progress of the implementation agreement for the President, Provost, and Board of Trustees. The Provost, Dean, or Line Vice President monitors progress on the implementation of the recommendations.