Department faculty at Truman State University are required to do a review of their respective programs every five years, but some programs have gone longer than five years without reviews.
Degree program reviews allow programs to reflect on the past five years of data to see where improvements could be made to the program. Reviews are used to identify strengths and weaknesses within the program and create an action plan for the future.
Janet Gooch, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, said every program is completing the reviews, but circumstances such as faculty turnover or a change in leadership can lead to programs taking longer than five years to complete a review.
“It’s an accountability report in a lot of ways, and it also helps them take a deep dive into what is happening in their program,” Gooch said.
Faculty Senate President Scott Alberts said Truman has required programs to complete the five-year reviews for many years, but some programs are behind in the process. Academic affairs has been less strict about the enforcement of the program reviews recently for a variety of reasons, Alberts said, including staffing cuts, staffing turnover and other accreditation processes for campus-wide or degree program accreditation. The rotations for the reviews were recently updated by Truman’s Director of Assessment, so the reviews will be enforced more strictly in the future.
Alberts said the reviews are important, but he does not think being behind has necessarily affected programs negatively because most departments continuously review their own programs and courses.
“You’re always looking at your data,” Alberts said. “You’re always collecting information about your graduates. You’re always collecting information about the field you’re in.”
Amber Johnson, Sociology, Anthropology and Justice Systems Department chair, said the sociology/anthropology program recently completed a review after 11 years. Johnson said Truman underwent administrative restructuring around the time her program was ready for a review. She said this led to her program being encouraged to delay the review because the University thought other programs needed reviewing more. She said a lack of funds and uncertainty about merging with the justice systems program also led to delays in the review.
Johnson said she does not think the long period between reviews has harmed her program. She said her department was still gathering all of the information during this time, and there were no problems within the program.
“I think it’s important to do program reviews, and every time we do them we learn something, but there is nothing magic about five years,” Johnson said.
Johnson said program reviews do not usually reveal critical problems within programs. She said her department has a good program that is working, and they are just making small adjustments so it stays up to date. She said after the most recent review, her program is just going to be making a small change to the curriculum.
Jessica Venvertloh is a freshman Staff Writer for Truman Media Network.