Pursuit of Excellence
By Guy Harrison, Media & Marketing Specialist
PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. – Central Arizona College is pursuing excellence with its academic program review process.
CAC Interim Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Steven Gonzales outlined the academic program review (APR) process at the college’s governing board meeting in mid-January.
“This process has a far reaching ability to improve what we do here at CAC,” Gonzales said.
At CAC, APR is an extensive process that involves an in-depth look into an academic program that includes a review by diverse panels and the college’s academic administration.
According to the college’s policy manual, APRs are required for every academic program every five years. Even though the reviews are mandatory, Gonzales believes them to be an essential component of any academic institution.
“Simply put, we are in pursuit of excellence.”
In 2012, after receiving feedback from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), CAC undertook an action project to improve its APR process.
The project included the installation of an academic program review coordinator; a full-time member of the CAC faculty who also is a concurrent member of the college’s curriculum committee.
The APR coordinator for 2013 is CAC Professor of Justice Studies Claudine DeCarolis.
Additionally, the action project calls for the APR process to review specific degree and certificate programs, as opposed to just academic divisions, and to review broad institutional degrees such as the associate of arts and the associate of science.
The actual APR process is nearly a year-long journey that begins in January with the academic program review coordinator notifying the specific degree or certificate program that it is due for self-study.
Once a self-study team is assembled, the coordinator trains the team and facilitates data acquisition. Once the self-study is complete, review teams are assembled to provide feedback to the self-study team before the self-studies are presented to deans, division chairs and program directors for more feedback.
To conclude the process, the self-study teams meet with the college’s academic vice-president in mid-October to discuss the feedback and strategize ways to maximize program improvement based on that feedback. On Dec. 1, an operational plan based on the self-study is submitted for program implementation.
“When the outside is changing faster than the inside, the end is near,” Gonzales, quoting former GE CEO Jack Welch, said. “Here at CAC we are doing whatever we can to ensure that we are keeping up with what is going on outside.”
During the 2013 calendar year, a total of 28 degrees, certificates and institutional degrees will go through the APR process.