3.6 Departmental Evaluations

All who work at Kenyon want the College to represent excellence within the broad world of higher education in America and within the smaller world of liberal arts colleges. Much experience teaches us that any entity, if it proceeds without the occasional scrutiny of external judges, runs a real risk of mistaking parochialism for excellence or of slipping into an attitude that invariably prefers the customary to the innovative. 

To counteract such tendencies of mind and spirit and to promote excellence in fulfilling the instructional mission of the College, the faculty approves the following procedures for regular departmental evaluations.

  1. Each academic year three to four academic departments or interdisciplinary programs will be evaluated by a team of external reviewers. Each academic department and interdisciplinary program offering a major should be evaluated every ten years. Interdisciplinary programs that offer only a concentration and co-curricular academic division programs may request an external review.
  2. The evaluation team will be chosen through consultation between the Associate Provost and the department.
  3. Ordinarily, an evaluation team will consist of two members, but the number may vary depending upon the nature of the department. All members will be engaged in academic careers and trained in the discipline(s) being evaluated, and at least one must be from a liberal arts college.
  4. The schedule for evaluations will be decided upon by the Associate Provost, in consultation with the department chairs.
  5. A timeline for a departmental evaluation will include the following:
    1. In the semester prior to the visit
      The Associate Provost and the department choose an evaluation team, and the Associate Provost invites its members to participate. A date for the campus visit is selected.

      The department conducts a self-assessment, which involves scrutiny of at least the following: fidelity of departmental work to the department's mission statement; the shape of the curriculum; the shape of the major; enrollment patterns; staffing plans; ambitions for the future; adequacy of resources; and adequacy of institutional support. Additionally, each evaluation is likely to have its own particular questions. The chair of the department or of the departmental assessment group writes a report describing the lines of inquiry and the conclusions of the self-assessment.

      The department prepares a mission statement and departmental outcomes assessment plan.
    2. Two months prior to the visit
      The department mails a packet of materials to team members. This packet contains at least the following: copies of the mission statement and the departmental outcomes assessment plan; a copy of the report; a copy of the department's course offerings; c.v.'s of department members; recent patterns of enrollment; and a list of questions to which the department and College want the team to direct particular attention.

      The department develops a plan for the visit, which will ordinarily last two and one-half days.
    3. The visit by the evaluation team
      Ordinarily, the evaluation team meets with each department member individually; with students; with the President; with the Provost; with the Associate Provost; with the Vice President for Library and Information Services; and with any other persons whose work at the College makes them particularly relevant to the evaluation. At or near the end of the visit the team meets again with the President, the Provost, and the Associate Provost to discuss its findings in a preliminary way.
    4. Follow-up to the visit
      The team submits its report to the President, who makes copies available to the Provost, the Associate Provost, and all members of the department under review.

      The department prepares a written response to the report, indicating in particular how it proposes to deal with the recommendations. This may include suggestions, where relevant, for administrative enablements.

      The department and the academic administration meet to discuss the report and the responses, and to develop a plan of future actions.

      The administration prepares a written response to the department's response and to the meeting.

Approved May 1993