Friday Focus: Program Review and Accreditation
Sept. 8, 2023
— By Trent Sutton, vice provost and accreditation liaison officer, Division of General Studies dean, and Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity director
As the newly minted vice provost and accreditation liaison officer, I wanted to first welcome everyone back to the new academic year. Fall has always been my favorite time of year, and a large reason for that is the excitement that comes with the start of the new school year. Fall is also a time for reflection as we forge ahead into a new academic year. This fall semester should be a particularly exciting time for reflection because we will (1) implement the second year of our revamped academic program review process and (2) host a peer-evaluation team from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities for our Mid-Cycle (year three) Accreditation Evaluation site visit. Since I will be overseeing both endeavors, I wanted to highlight them for your awareness and because many of you will be involved in these processes.
Academic Program Review
Following a year and a half evaluation and revision effort, we changed our academic program review process last academic year (2022-2023) to follow a four-year cycle which integrates student learning outcomes assessment reporting and includes a mid-cycle check-in review in year two and a full program review in year four. Years in between mid-cycle and full reviews are development years to allow programs to incorporate feedback from the review process. Following this new procedure, a mid-cycle review of 63 programs and a full program review of 17 programs was conducted last year. Starting in fall 2023, 46 academic programs will go through mid-cycle review while 30 programs will undergo a full review. For programs undergoing a review this academic year (2023-2024), financial and student success data will be provided in early September, departmental report and college/school review committee trainings will take place later in September and October, and program reports are to be submitted via Airtable reporting portals by Nov. 20. Feedback will be provided to all academic programs undergoing a mid-cycle and full review no later than May 1, 2024.
UAF has been accredited by NWCCU since 1934, which includes the Troth Yeddha’ campus, the Community and Technical College, and the Bristol Bay, Chukchi, Interior Alaska, Kuskokwim, and Northwest campuses. Our institutional accreditation was most recently continued in early 2021, based on the fall 2020 comprehensive evaluation. Because this is a seven-year cycle and we are at year three in that sequence, the Mid-Cycle Evaluation will address progress made on recommendations from the comprehensive review as well as mission fulfillment, student achievement, programmatic assessment, and additional efforts and initiatives moving forward in preparation for the next (year seven) Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness. The site visit for the Mid-Cycle Evaluation will take place on Oct. 2-3, so please save those dates. More details on the site visit will be provided in early September once we finalize arrangements for peer-evaluation team meetings over that two-day period. In the meantime, you can access the Mid-Cycle Evaluation Report on the UAF website.
In addition to my vice provost and accreditation liaison officer roles, I am the dean of general studies (which oversees Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Studies, Student Support Services, the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity, and academic programs in the Honors College) and will continue as the director of URSA. We have some exciting changes coming to DGS this fall as well, but, for the sake of space (and your time), I will hold on to those updates until the spring 2024 semester. In the meantime, have a great fall semester and please do not hesitate to reach out if there is something that I can help with. I am looking forward to working with all of you in my new role!
Friday Focus is a column written by a different member of UAF's leadership team every week. On occasion, a guest writer is invited to contribute a column.