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Standing Council for Academic Planning updates on reviews

By MARY GRACI
On February 6, 2014

During the first meeting of the semester, the Standing Council for Academic Planning and Provost Mark Manganaro addressed updates on departmental and program assessments.
According to the council, every academic department, unit and program on campus is required to go through an in-depth review every five years. The council oversees these inter-department assessments and evaluates their plans for revision.
According to Manganaro during the January council meeting, several reviews will continue throughout the rest of the year, including the department of biological sciences, department of physics, College of Business, music industry studies, School of Mass Communication, Center for the Study of New Orleans, environment studies, department of sociology, department of criminal justice and Center for International Education.
The criteria required by each department and program during these reviews complements the standards that the council expects of Loyola in order to uphold it's mission. These include alignment with the University Strategic Plan, the demand for each department based on enrollment statics and trend data, the department's relationship to other existing programs, the adequacy and appropriateness of resource utilization, and finally, the assessment and review process.
The review process includes both internal and external evaluations. Internally, the department forms a committee to discuss what's been accomplished since the last review and the revisions that they wish to make. Externally, Manganaro and the dean of the respective college find outside reviewers to objectively assess the department.
Frank Jordan, chairman of the biology department, said the department is in the midst of its first review in 10 years. He's optimistic that the department is doing well, but he believes that it's time to revise the curriculum.
"We started in the summer time, and what we're going to make sure we do this time when we revise our curriculum is really have a vision of where we want to go with it," Jordan said. "It's an exciting time to come up with a new curriculum given these new spaces [in Monroe]. It gives us a lot of new opportunities that we didn't have before."
While the reviews are scheduled for a specific year, during which the council evaluates the department's plans for revision, the actual assessment process can take years to be fully implemented.
"It's a good time to do it, but we're going to take our time," Jordan said. "I would not envision a new biology curriculum for at least one or two years. What we will do is when we come to agreements on small things, we'll go ahead and implement those as we go rather than try to do it all in one large package."
Several departments on campus, like the biology department, meet on a regular basis to discuss their plans before bringing them before Manganaro and the rest of SCAP. The goal of the reviews is to consistently improve each of Loyola's on-campus departments and keep the curriculum up-to-date.
"Assessment is like a circle. You do something, then you evaluate it, then the important thing is to close the circle and take the assessment findings and improve what you're doing. But that's always the hardest part, closing the circle," Jordan said.
Mary Graci may be reached at megraci@loyno.edu 


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