External Review Tips

H&S Tips for a Successful External Review

Departments frequently find that planning for the external review is the most valuable part of the process. The External Program Review is an opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to participate in setting departmental goals and developing strategies to reach those goals. Participation by all members of a department, with time to reflect on discussions, is key.

Good planning practices:

  • Encourage retreats and other in-depth discussions among all faculty about program direction, priorities, and needs. 
  • Schedule seminar programs or special conferences to assist with planning. Invite leading scholars and/or society presidents to address future opportunities and challenges in the discipline. A semester of weekly seminars to consider issues key to the future evolution of the department can be helpful.
  • Allow all faculty to buy in and to take ownership of the department plan. Where the chair or a small group of faculty prepare materials on behalf of the department, it is too easy for some faculty to hold divergent views about department direction.
  • Encourage transparency. Most departments delegate the writing of specific sections of the report to small groups of faculty and staff. Letting everyone see and comment on the report as it is assembled is important.
  • Engage related departments within the University as part of the planning process.
  • Involve students, post docs, and staff in the planning. The external review team visit should not be the only opportunity for students and staff to voice opinions about their department.