Institute Review Committee: 2002-03 Activities and Update

Report to the Executive Board


By J. Joseph Hoey, IRC Chair


         Meetings: The Institute Review Committee met eight times during the academic year 2002-03. Attendance was good at all meetings.


         Membership: As in 2001-02, the membership has included representatives from all colleges, IGC, and IUCC.


         2002-03 Reviews Conducted: Reviews of the Architecture Ph.D. program, Biology, and Public Policy were conducted during the academic year 2002-03. Each of these units gave a presentation to the IRC on April 15, 2003.


         2003-04 Reviews Underway: Seven program reviews are currently underway: Industrial Design, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Human-Computer Interaction, Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Literature, Communication and Culture. Three reviews initially scheduled for this year have been continued to next fall for a variety of reasons: City and Regional Planning (to coincide with an accreditation visit), Civil and Environmental Engineering (new chair), and Applied Physiology (new school).


         IGC Role: The role of the Institute Review Committee was the topic of extended discussion throughout the academic year. The conflict between an essentially administrative appointment and the perceived need to work within the faculty governance structure was expressed in a number of ways, and eventually resulted in the set of recommendations brought to the EB at its meeting of April 8, 2003.


         Review Process: The logistics of the review process began to settle down in 2002-03, but a time crunch was still experienced by all units under review and by the faculty committees charged with the review of curricula (IGC and IUCC). The IRC has discussed moving to a two-year review process to allow for the identification of suitable external reviewers, identification of resources to be used in the review, and the collection of relevant data. This process will be started at two different points in time in the academic year, to even out the review load on the IRC, the IGC, and the IUCC.


         Review Criteria: A further rework of the review criteria was undertaken in response to the universal outcry about the burdensome data requirements promulgated by the USG Board of Regents. This resulted in further simplification of the criteria, which were finalized for the current year in August 2003. With the simplification of the review criteria, the notion of a self-study template was abandoned in favor of looser, more flexible review criteria.


         Program Review Handbook: Through discussion extending from April to August 2003, a Program Review Handbook was created for Georgia Tech. This handbook is in use for programs undergoing review this academic year. It unifies documentation of the expectations, processes, procedures, guidelines for external reviewers, and timelines for program review at the Institute.


         Future Efforts: Program review processes, guidelines, and forms are now largely in place for program review at Georgia Tech. Changes to the process will include extending the cycle to two years and staggering the start dates of the reviews, such that sufficient lead time is provided to all parties to conduct and reflect upon the results of the review in a suitable manner. The nature and role of the IRC have continued to be a point of heated discussion among members of the IRC. Several members feel that the IRC should remain an administrative committee, appointed by the Provost, while others have weighed in on the side of having the IRC a standing committee of the faculty. The IGC and IUCC have both indicated their desire to retain control of and responsibility for curriculum reviews as provided for in the faculty handbook. The largest area of progress this past year was acceptance on the part of IRC members of the need for a synthesis function for each individual review to be vested in the IRC. Thus, not only will the IRC continue to shepherd the program review process among academic units, the committee will also undertake the writing of summary reports that synthesize the findings and recommendations arising out of the review process for each unit under review, including the self-study, the report of the external review team, the report of the IGC, the report of the IUCC, and any commentary provided by the cognizant dean or chair/director of the unit under review. These reports will then be forwarded to the Council on Assessment, Program Review, and Accreditation for discussion, synthesis of findings across all units under review in a given year, and forwarding of recommendations to the Provost. The IRC will report to the EB in fall 2003 on the result of its deliberations regarding the nature and role of the committee, and will provide recommendations to the EB.