From staff reports
The vast majority of Ohio University's graduate programs are performing well, according to a report the Centers of Excellence Task Force on Professional and Graduate Education sent to Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl on Wednesday.
Formed last fall at the urging of the university's 10 academic deans, the task force conducted a comprehensive evaluation of all 88 graduate and professional programs. The purpose was twofold: to help identify excellent programs that may play a role in the formation of Ohio University's Centers of Excellence and to provide important data for future strategic planning involving graduate and professional education.
The committee of 10 faculty members, a graduate student and a dean compiled the report, which summarizes the task force's work in evaluating the self-studies of 27 doctoral programs and 60 master's programs. (One additional doctoral program in civil engineering, which received Ohio Board of Regents approval in June 2008, had not admitted any students at the time the self-studies were submitted.)
Of the 88 programs, 72 were rated as excellent, very good, good or satisfactory. Eight were placed in the category of limited, and the remaining eight were identified as new and/or developing.
Krendl, who informed faculty of the report in an e-mail earlier today, commended the task force on its thorough and thoughtful report.
The charge given to the task force was to conduct a systematic and comprehensive review within a fairly short time frame," she noted. "The degree of professionalism with which this complicated task was completed is evident in the careful, consultative way they went about their work."
Included in the report are detailed explanations of the self-study guidelines and how they were created, criteria for evaluating the self-studies and procedures for rating each program.
A majority of voting members was needed to rate a program as very good, good or satisfactory, and a two-thirds vote was required to assign an excellent or limited rating. The committee identified new or developing programs after reviewing the list of Ohio University graduate programs the Ohio Board of Regents has approved since 2000.
In its report, the committee acknowledges "known limitations" of the review process, including limited data (of type, availability or presentation in the self-study); program mission (the difficulty in a comprehensive review to fully address the specific missions and unique characteristics of the wide range of programs); and consistency (relating to the internal consistency of the reporting of data between programs, which was compounded in the case of interdisciplinary programs).
Because of these limitations, the task force established an appeals process to allow programs, with the approval of their deans, to request reconsideration if they believe their program was incorrectly categorized. Appeals are to be submitted to the task force in writing by Feb. 23, with the committee convening no later than March 20 to consider any appeals. (Appendix F of the report outlines the appeals process.)
While the Ohio Board of Regents has not fully defined final criteria for University System of Ohio's Centers of Excellence, the task force report was designed, in part, to gather information that will be useful as Ohio University selects its Centers of Excellence for recommendation to the USO.
"We believe programs in the excellent and very good categories would be the best candidates for inclusion in Ohio University's submissions to the USO as graduate programs representing Centers of Excellence," the committee wrote. "At the same time, many programs classified as good or satisfactory could play an important role within a more broadly defined Center of Excellence when paired with other programs, centers, institutes or other interdisciplinary units."
Krendl said she would await the results of the appeals process before making any decisions about how best to use the report. She expects continued assessment of graduate and professional education to be a priority for her successor and the deans of each of the colleges, she said.
"Internal needs relating to the Five Year Vision Ohio Implementation Plan and external expectations from the University System of Ohio necessitate ongoing evaluation," Krendl said. "We have learned a great deal about reviewing graduate and professional programs, and those lessons will be put to good use in the future. I am grateful for the work of the task force and believe the report moves us closer to understanding the quality of our portfolio of graduate and professional programs."
The full task force report along with the self-studies on which it was based are available on the Graduate College Web site.