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Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness

Departmental Resources and Onsite Visit Guides

Department Resources

Department Tips for a Successful Self-Study

Departments should work collaboratively and engage members of the faculty in the self-study process. This tip sheet provides some general guidelines on how to begin thinking about the process.

View the "Department Tips for a Successful Self-Study"

Avoiding the Potholes of Program Review

This article from The Chronicle of Higher Education provides insights from other faculty who have engaged in program review.

View the "Avoiding the Potholes of Program Review"

External Review Team Nominations Form

Departments should use this form to submit their list of external review nominations. The form department must be submitted to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness by October 15th  .

View the "External Review Team Nominations Form" 

Program Review Response & Action Plan Report Template

This form is used to provide responses to the external review team’s report and to use the recommendations as a starting point for strategic planning. The completed form is submitted to the Provost and used to facilitate program development discussions.

View the "Program Review Response & Action Plan Report Template (f")

Onsite Campus Visit Guides


The second step in the academic program review process involves an onsite campus visit by an external review team. The onsite visit follows submission of the program’s self-study document to the Provost’s Office. The Institutional Effectiveness Business Intelligence Analyst then forwards the document to the external review team prior to their campus visit.

The onsite visit typically requires two-days of interview style meetings meant to support and augment the information provided in the self-study report. Meetings are scheduled between the external review team and the program faculty and affiliates, academic affairs leadership, staff, and students of the program. Larger programs might require a longer visit.

The general overview information and the resource links below serve as guides to assist departments with preparing and scheduling these meetings, selecting participants, and information on reviewer transportation, hotel accommodations, meals and other logistics. Program leadership should NOT CONTACT the evaluators before the site visit.


Onsite Campus Visit Resources

General Overview and Logistics


The onsite campus visit dates are selected after the external review team members are confirmed and planning for visit activities should occur as soon as the visit dates are confirmed. The IE Business Intelligence Analyst in the Provost’s Office works with the department and the external review team to coordinate the best meeting dates. 


The IE Business Intelligence Analyst and the Department Chair(s) meet during the semester prior to the onsite visit to discuss goals for the review, the tentative agenda, and any other logistics. Department Chairs are encouraged to identify a support staff or student (or solicit assistance from members of the programs’ self-study team) that can provide additional support during the onsite visit.

Selection of Meeting Attendees

Programs are encouraged to have a diversity of perspectives and the participation from a wide range of individuals from within and outside the department.

  • Meetings are scheduled in small private groups based on attendee functions or roles. Program leadership and college administration are not present during these small group meetings. This is to help promote open dialog with the external review team. Recording of meetings are also discouraged.

  • Identify and invite campus administrators, department faculty and staff representatives. The department invitees might include, for example, the Interim VP for Faculty, Director(s) of Teaching Resource Center, the Associate Provost for Research, the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, etc. These meetings are organized as needed and may replace others listed in the sample schedule if required.

  • Meetings with faculty and/or representatives of related departments, special programs, or initiatives within the program are also appropriate This meeting will give the program the opportunity to highlight any interdisciplinary activities or any unique or particularly exceptional aspects of the program.

  • Separate meetings should be established for:
    • tenured/tenure-track faculty
    • non-tenure track lecturers and instructors
    • adjunct and part-time faculty
    • program support staff
    • specific program major or minor faculty (if relevant for the program review)
    • Invite students, alumni, and/or community leaders or donors that can speak to specifics regarding the program. These groups will meet separately with the review team. These invitations to participate should be sent out early since it can be challenging to coordinate schedules.

Creating the Schedule

The department is responsible for creating the schedule and should begin doing so as soon as the visit dates are set. This is imperative since the external review team’s travel arrangements can only be completed once a tentative schedule is established.

Day one meetings begin early morning (typically around 9 am). Day two typically starts early morning and ends late afternoon/early evening to allow reviewers time to return to the hotel (if needed) or travel to the airport. Reviewers are encouraged to arrive the night before the visit and depart late evening of the second day.

  • The agenda should include opportunities for all faculty members to meet with the reviewers in small, focused groups organized by rank or tenure status. This provides the reviewers a chance to get the unique perspectives of each group. (See Selection of Meeting Attendees above). One-on-one meetings can be organized when appropriate.

  • Include the names, titles or affiliations of college constituents participating in the focused meetings on the agenda.

  • Share a tentative agenda with the review team early in the process. This will allow the review team to make any additional requests for meetings.

  • Forty-five minutes to one hour is sufficient for meetings with groups of faculty, staff, students, or administrators.

  • Consider offering virtual meeting options to individuals who cannot attend in person.

  • Incorporate a 30 min to 1-hour break each day to allow reviewers time to meet and reflect on the visit and consolidate notes. Review teams may also opt to review the day’s activities during dinner, if time is limited.

  • Schedule regular breaks of at least 15 minutes throughout each day. If there are several consecutive meetings, plan to include at least a 20-minute break after those meetings.

  • As above, provide opportunities for the review team to meet with other program stakeholders. This includes faculty or staff from other programs, initiatives or from within the Atlanta University Consortium (AUC), if appropriate. This particularly important if there is an interdisciplinary focus or sharing of initiatives or strategic priorities.

  • Tours of the program facilities (labs, classrooms, etc.) should also be scheduled. Some programs also schedule campus tours. These are often scheduled on the first day and can be coordinated by contacting the admissions office and filling out the Tour Request Form .

  • Provide an opportunity for students (current and alumnae) to meet with the reviewers without faculty present. Virtual meeting options for alumnae are also an option.

Welcome Meeting

This is an opportunity for introductions, a review of the schedule as well as an opportunity to review expectations and goals for the visit with the external review team. This meeting is attended by the program chair and vice or co- chair and the provost (or her designee). This meeting is typically no longer than 15-20 min. Additional attendees might include specific faculty or staff involved in completing the self-study. The chair and the provost provide the initial greeting and introductions. The meeting is then open to the reviewers to ask general and broad questions about the program, the college or the self-study report.

Meeting Spaces

The department is responsible for reserving any meeting spaces and should do so as soon as the meeting dates are confirmed. Reserving one large space that can accommodate meetings with the various groups over the two days is recommended. Conference rooms or the faculty cloisters are ideal.

Technology Support

Audio visual and technology support should also be arranged by contacting Spelman Technology Services (STS) and submitting a request to have technological support on each of the onsite visit. STS will typically assign a specific IT staff person for the event.

A request for Wi-Fi access for the review team is no longer needed. Spelman guests now use the SCGuest WiFi network.

Travel and Hotel Accommodations

Travel and hotel accommodations for the external review team are covered by the Office of the Provost. The Institutional Effectiveness Business Intelligence Analyst coordinates flight and hotel arrangements for the review team. Review team members are given vouchers or are reimbursed for any ground transportation between the hotel and campus.

Meals: Food & Refreshments

Meals, food and refreshments offered during the onsite visit are coordinated by the program; and the expenses will be covered by the Office of the Provost. The program must submit all receipts to the Provost’s office. Submission of purchase orders and check requests should be coordinated with the IE Business Intelligence Analyst and sent to the Provost’s executive assistant.

  • Food and refreshments should be provided throughout the day on each of the two days. A break area stocked with water, tea, coffee or other beverages and light snacks are appropriate. Programs can order Beverage Service through Spelman’s food/dinning vendor. Orders with the vendors should be placed several weeks in advance. Please check the vendor’s website for specifics.

  • Breakfast -The review team has the option of dining at the hotel on their own or the program has the option of providing breakfast on campus.

  • Lunch -The program should provide an hour lunch each day for the external review team. This mid-day meal is typically provided on campus. Programs may invite the external review team to dine in the Faculty Dining area or place an order via the Spelman approved dinning vendor. Alternately, programs may order from a vendor approved restaurant (pickup or delivery, if available). Campus orders can be placed directly with the designated campus food vendor.

  • Dinner - Programs should offer the review team a choice of restaurants as well as the option to dine with members of the program or to dine as a team. If the department and the review team are to dine together, careful consideration should be made regarding those who will attend, restaurant location, etc. Also, consider offering the review team the opportunity to dine on their own (per diem) or provide a workspace for them on campus, should they wish to work over dinner.

Close Out

A close out or exit interview is scheduled on the final day of meetings. The program chair(s), division chair, the program review team and the provost and/or representative of the Office should attend.

The provost opens the meeting and then invites the review team to provide an oral report of any preliminary recommendations or findings without discussion. The review team may also provide any consultative comments that may not appear in the final written report.

  • The program is discouraged from responding to any of the preliminary recommendations provided at this meeting and will have the opportunity to respond to recommendations presented in the final written report.
  • The program chair may provide guidance to the review team regarding submission of the report or any next steps.

The program chair or the provost then provides any closing remarks before the review team departs for their hotel or the airport.


Programs are not required to provide gifts to review team members. If gifts are provided, they may be connected to institutional advertisement (e.g., drinkware, key chains, pens, t-shirts, or the like), institutional programs (e.g., gifts produced by faculty or students), or mementos connected with the local community or Atlanta. Gifts should not have a monetary value that exceeds $100 per person. Please refer to the College’s BFA 2011.03 Policy on Gifts, Gratuities and Research Participants.

This guideline does not apply to snacks and beverages provided to committee members and SACSCOC staff members.


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