Departmental Review Procedures

Purpose of the review
Scope of the review
Departmental self-study
Work of the review committee
Departmental response to the review report
Collegiate response to the review materials
Access to the review documents

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Purpose of the Review

The Iowa Board of Regents requires that all academic programs be reviewed on a seven-year cycle.  In CLAS, this requirement is normally satisfied in the form of a departmental review that focuses on the quality and impact of the department's educational programs and teaching; the quality of the faculty's research, scholarship, or artistic activities; and the department's service to the University, the state, and the disciplines represented in it. When needed, the review recommends steps that should to be taken to improve the department's quality and increase its impact on the discipline, the College, and the State.

Scope of the Review

At the time the review is initiated, the Dean meets and consults with the DEO and the departmental self-study committee on the scope of the review. Together they determine the focus of the review and the questions specific to the department that the review should address.  Subsequent to this meeting the department prepares a self-study that is organized according to the outline provided below. This stage in the review process ensures that the review reflects the current circumstances of the department, anticipates changes in the relatively near term, creates an opportunity for departmental self-examination and initiative, and promotes productive conversation on the review issues.

The review self-study must include at least questions #1 and 2 below, on the quality and impact of the department and on progress made since the previous review. The scope normally will also include additional questions which, in the view of the College and the department, are particularly relevant to the future of the department. In some reviews, circumstances such as a shift in faculty composition, change in student demand for the major, change in national rank of the department, or emerging nationwide trends in the discipline may necessitate an especially comprehensive treatment of all the questions below.

1.  Quality and Focus

  • What are the strengths of the department?
  • What is its national standing within the discipline or disciplines in which its faculty teach and engage in scholarly or creative work?
  • Which areas should be emphasized and how does (or should) the department's current hiring plan and its academic programs reflect this focusing?

2.  Results of Previous Review

  • How have the recommendations of the previous review been implemented?
  • What other important events or changes have occurred since the last review?
  • What new issues seem likely to emerge before the next review?

3.  Mission and Objectives

  • How does the department define its mission?
  • What actions has the department taken to achieve its goals and those of the College, the Graduate College, and the University?

4.  Connections within the University

  • What relationships currently exist with academic programs in other departments or with interdisciplinary efforts on campus?
  • How is the department enhancing and augmenting these interactions?

5.  Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • What actions has the department taken to diversify its faculty and students with respect to gender and ethnicity?
  • How is the department integrating diversity, equity and inclusion into the University’s core mission of teaching, research and service?

6.  Undergraduate Programs (please provide a link to the University’s General Catalog describing the department’s programs)

The following questions are required by the Board of Regents Outcomes Assessment in the major:

  • What are the goals and the enrollment trends in the undergraduate major programs (BA, BS)?
  • What are the placement opportunities for BA/BS graduates? What has been the record in employment experiences or acceptances into graduate/professional programs of study for students receiving the BA/BS?
  • How has the department modified its curriculum, mode of delivery (e.g., hybrid), and major programs since the last review? In an appendix, please include copies of any assessment tools and a summary of the data collected since the last review.

7.  Graduate Programs (please provide a link to your Graduate Handbook)

  • What changes have been made to the graduate programs since the last departmental review?
  • What are the enrollment trends in the graduate program, including the size of the graduate program and the distribution of current graduate students in each area of the department?  How do enrollment trends relate to the funding available for graduate students?  (Please provide data for the last 10 years.)
  • How should the PhD (or other terminal degree programs) be focused to attract and retain students?  Include in your answer a summary of any professional development training that the department has integrated into the graduate curriculum.
  • What is the function of the MA/MS degree as it relates to the graduate program?

8.  Physical Plant What changes in physical space are necessary in order to achieve departmental excellence and impact?

9.  Public Engagement Discuss the department’s various public engagement and outreach efforts as they align with the University of Iowa Carnegie Community Engagement classification.

Departmental Self-Study Format Instructions

The self-study narrative should be limited to 15 pages, not including appendices, with one-inch margins and a 12-point serif font. Appendices should be added in the order listed in the next section.

Appendices to the Self-Study

  1.  An abbreviated, current curriculum vitae for each tenure-track, clinical-track and instructional-track departmental faculty member that is formatted in a uniform way (no more than 2 pages will be included in the self-study for any faculty member)
  2.  Data reflecting the national standing of the department and its programs
  3.  A two-page summary of the department's hiring plan
  4.  Data on student enrollments, departmental majors, and degrees awarded since the previous review provided by the College and reviewed by the department
  5.  Departmental plan for assessing outcomes of the undergraduate major program(s), with data from each year since the last review
  6.  A summary record of external research support since the previous review
  7.  A link to the University's General Catalog describing the department's programs
  8.  The report from the last review of the department

Work of the Review Committee

Appointment of Committee Members

The Dean appoints the internal and external members of the review committee in consultation with the CLAS Executive Committee and the Associate Deans. Nominations for external reviewers are solicited from the department. (For guidelines, see

Review Visit

The review committee spends one to two days interviewing faculty, staff, and students in the department. The committee may also interview other faculty and administrators suggested by the department, the College, or the reviewers themselves. The department and the Office of the Dean cooperate in preparing the schedule of the reviewers' interviews. The Dean's Office transmits the schedule to the reviewers the week before the review visit. The reviewers ordinarily meet with departmental faculty in groups. The department includes in the review schedule meetings with graduate students, and if at all possible with undergraduate students, and encourages as many students as possible to attend. The review begins with an orientation meeting with the Dean, the Associate Deans, the Dean of the Graduate College, and the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education. It ends with an exit interview with the Dean, the Associate Deans, and the Dean of the Graduate College. Consistent with the practices governing site visits of professional accrediting teams, the College asks that the external reviewers not receive or accept social invitations, including invitations to meals, from individual faculty members or subgroups in the department being reviewed, in order to ensure that the review process is fair and neutral and that it is perceived as fair and neutral.

Review Report

The review committee submits its report to the Dean. The Dean then transmits the report to the DEO, who shares the report with faculty, staff, and students. Any evaluative comments about identified or identifiable persons (including the DEO) must be separately reported to the Dean, who will notify the persons commented on and provide them access to the comments. The Dean shall maintain the confidentiality of these comments as needed.

Departmental Response to the Review Report

The Dean, in transmitting the review committee report, will solicit a written response, including the correction of any factual errors, from the department.

Collegiate Response to the Review Materials

The Deans of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Graduate College discuss the self-study, the review report, and the response of the department with the CLAS Executive Committee and with the Provost and Associate Provost for Academic Review before transmitting a joint written response to the review. The DEO shares the Colleges’ response with the faculty, staff, and students. The review process officially concludes with the transmission to the department of the Deans' response.

Access to the Review Documents

After the Deans’ response to the review has been transmitted to the department and to the Provost’s office, the review materials are treated as public documents, except those (such as the assessment of the DEO or other individuals) that are prepared with an explicit expectation of confidentiality. The DEO has the responsibility of making the review materials available to faculty, staff, and students of the department. The College will make the review documents available to others upon request.


The review process will normally be completed in slightly more than a year from the time the department begins the self-study.

  • The Dean will notify each department of the schedule of its review.
  • The Dean will arrange that some self-studies begin in August and some in January.
  • The members of the review committee will be scheduled to conduct their interviews in the semester following the preparation of the self-study.
  • When the review committee submits its report at the end of the spring semester or during the summer session, the department may convey its response early in the fall semester.