Board of Governors Agenda, May 3, 2001 - APPENDIX VIII, Annex 3
Background and Context
This is the second report of the Provost's Undergraduate Program Review Committee, the first having been brought forward to Senate and the Board of Governors in June, 2000. As required by the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents, PRC was established in 1998 to oversee the review process at Western. In approaching this task, the Committee focussed on reviews done in conjunction with the appointment process of Chairs at the departmental level, Directors in the case of Schools, and Deans in non-departmentalized Faculties. In all the cases listed below, the reviews took place departmentally, save in the Centre for Women's Studies and Feminist Research, responsible jointly to the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, and where the undergraduate program is supported by teaching faculty from across the University.
The departmental/program review summaries which follow were prepared by individual committee members, who reviewed documentation provided by the units and the reports of the external reviewers and then consulted with the departments to determine specific actions occasioned by the consultants' reports. Finally, the PRC summary was reviewed by the Chairs and Deans in the units, and their comments incorporated into a final report on the review process. Although the invitation was not taken up in this round, Deans and Chairs were free to request a meeting with the Chair of the PRC and the designated reviewer to resolve any outstanding issues.
During the past review cycle, the Provost granted waivers of reviews in several departments due to the short period since previous reviews had been conducted. In the Faculty of Music, the Departments of Theory and Composition and the Department of Music History had both been reviewed three years earlier, and the Faculty had been appraised as part of the decanal selection process in 1999. In the Faculty of Health Sciences, the School of Kinesiology and its Intercollegiate Athletic and Campus Recreation programs had been reviewed in 1998, and the School of Communications Sciences and Disorders had been reviewed in 1999, so programs in these areas were exempted from a review specifically for inclusion in the PRC schedule.
Departmental reviews in the Faculty of Engineering Science will be subsumed in the national accreditation process which assesses professional Engineering programs on behalf of the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board. In addition, the Faculty was externally reviewed as part of the decanal selection process in 1999.
Departmental/program reviews contained in this report include:
Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Basis of Review
Self-Assessment Documentation provided by the department (3 volumes); External Reviewers' Reports.
Profs. Ron Steer, University of Saskatchewan; Tony Durst, University of Ottawa; and Mike McGlinchey, McMaster University. The reviewers submitted a single, jointly-authored report.
Highlights of the External Reviewers' Report
The reviewers, writing in the fall of 1999, had high praise for recent initiatives by the department in updating its physical resources, including refurbished laboratories and new apparatus and instruments. They also noted that the department had successfully sought funding for these renovations and other research-related activities. They noted the leadership of UWO chemists in relation to the work done at the Canadian Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Saskatchewan. They predicted confidently that "UWO researchers will tackle frontier problems that were previously beyond their capacities."
In terms of the impact of the renewal initiatives on the undergraduate program, the reviewers noted that at the time of their review, most of the newer laboratories were being used "primarily for service courses to life sciences students," but that undergraduate chemistry majors should begin reaping the benefits soon.
The reviewers noted favorably that Chemistry faculty enjoy solid respect across campus, and commented that perhaps this respect should lead them to take even stronger leadership roles within the Faculty of Science, and in forging cross-disciplinary links with other departments across campus.
In commenting upon the specialities within the department, the external reviewers noted that "as a group, the physical/ theoretical chemists have a solid reputation for research in their respective fields"; that Surface Science Western and Interface Science Western "appear to be running well and to be providing excellent infrastructure"; and that there were similar strengths in organic and inorganic chemistry.
As this review is intended to focus on the department's undergraduate program, it will report only on concerns raised in relation to that program.
In general, the reviewers expressed a number of concerns regarding the maintenance of what they considered an appropriate balance among sub-disciplines, both in terms of faculty and research programs, and in terms of undergraduate enrolments. They noted, for example, that undergraduate enrolments in biochemistry had been growing at the expense of other areas. They predicted a potential problem in responding to this trend, especially when a few senior faculty members retire.
The reviewers encouraged the department to revisit its policy on administering common examinations to multi-section courses; they felt this might risk "catering to the lowest common denominator" and inhibiting individuality among section instructors.
A number of concerns were noted which relate to a general lack of resources, and in this respect are not unique to this department. The reviewers heard that technical support staff consider themselves overworked and underpaid, to some extent; that there were not enough faculty or funded Teaching Assistantships to staff the undergraduate courses at desirable levels; and that maintenance of a strong undergraduate program may become a problem if the department is not able to replace senior professors who will soon reach retirement. They had a number of recommendations regarding new hires, and emphasized the importance of selecting a new Chair who would assume a strong leadership role, and who could be relied upon to continue in that role for some time.
Response of the Department Chair
The PRC reviewer met with the new chair of the department, Prof. Robert Lipson, on September 5, 2000. Prof. Lipson indicated that although he was generally satisfied with the external review, he felt it was perhaps not as thorough as the previous departmental review had been. He responded as follows to particular points raised in the review:
Reflections upon the Review Process
The review appears to have been conducted according to accepted standards. It is apparent that the reviewers had access to both the physical plant and to all members of the department with whom they wished to meet. The department's three-volume self-review is an impressive document, which is particularly interesting in its historical review. That review points out that the history of the Chemistry Department is closely linked to the history of Western as an institution.
The external reviewers were clearly impressed with the strengths of the department, and commented primarily on challenges which might be considered internal to the discipline. It was clear that the new Chair had taken part in the review as a faculty member, had read the reviewers' report carefully, and responded thoughtfully to the PRC summary of the review.
PRC Reviewer: J. Marshall Mangan, Faculty of Education
Department of History, Faculty of Social Science
In addition to a graduate program comprising both MA and PhD programs, the Department of History offers both programs at the BA-level in the general and honors streams.
Summary of Review and Recommendations
The following is based on the appraisals of the Department of History submitted by Prof. John E. Kendle (University of Manitoba) and Prof. Mary Vipond (Concordia University).
Although pointing to areas of considerable strength, the reviewers both noted that the Department had reached a critical juncture. The retirement of ten full-time professors between 1996 and 1999 and the impending retirement of eight more in the next five years mean that the Department and its programs will be dramatically reshaped. The majority of the concerns set out below can, in one way or another, be seen as closely linked to the question of faculty complement.
1. The implications of the impending retirements. The current Chair pointed out that as of August 1999 the Department will be severely taxed to sustain its programs adequately.
2. The issue of the rationalization of resources in the 100-level courses. (Kendle)
3. Lack of structure in the Area of Concentration. (Vipond)
4. The appropriateness of the present first-year offerings.
5. The question of the broadening of the Department's mandate outside its traditional areas of expertise. The curriculum has not been re-considered for many years. (Vipond)
6. The status and use of part-time teaching staff.
7. Both appraisers raise the question of the role of half-courses in the Department's curriculum. At present very few are on offer, but the reviewers suggests that the introduction of such courses would be a useful innovation.
8. Appropriateness of the compulsory historiographical paper in Hist. 236E and the requirements of 231E. It is suggested that these courses are too demanding for current students.
Departmental Response and Subsequent Actions
The following responses to the reviewers' concerns are based on correspondence with Prof. T. E. Sea, who was Chair at the time of the appraisals, and with Prof. B. Forster, who was chosen as the new Chair of the Department.
1. It is clear that the impending retirements will seriously affect the ability of the Department to maintain its current programs at both the graduate and the undergraduate levels, and the hope was expressed that the Department receive adequate and timely replacements. Prof. Sea notes that History has reached the midway point in the cycle of renewal caused by retirements. "Of the eighteen retirements scheduled for the period between 1995 and 2005, ten have already occurred. We have received the equivalent of six replacements so far, for a net loss of four full-time faculty." The consequences of this situation are a decrease in the number of both undergraduate and graduate sections offered, as well as an increase in teaching loads. This situation is seen as problematic, and can only remedied by the restoration of faculty positions. Dean Peter Neary adds the following: Since 1994, there have been eleven (11) retirements in the department and another is scheduled for 1 July 2001. These are as follows: Matthews (1996), Pospielovsky (1997), Hillborn (1997), Oglesby (1997), Dreyer (1998), Ruud (1998), Flaherty (1998). Hyatt (1999), Emerson (1999), Guinsburg (1999), and Hohner (2001). Since 1994, eight (8) tenure-stream appointments have been made in the department, as follows: Kellow (1994), Vance (1997), Hernandez-Saenz (1997). Reynard (1998), Dyczok (joint with Political Science, 1998), Johnson (1999), McKenna (joint with Women's Studies, 1999), Flath (2000), and Millman (2001). 1.5 appointments are now being advertised. Assuming these are made, there will have been 9.5 appointments since 1 July 1994.
2. According to Prof. Sea, "The issue of 'rationalization' of resources raised by Prof. Kendle on p. 2 is based partly on a misunderstanding of the relationship between our general and honors programs. The reason we offer relatively few essay courses at the 100-level is that a great many of our general B.A. students prefer to take 200-level courses, all of which are open to them without special permission and two of which are required for their degree. The non-essay courses for non-History students (History 180-199a/b) are there to offer an opportunity to pursue historical interests without the usual extensive writing requirements of other History courses. Were we to merge these courses with the 170-level courses (which are seldom offered) as Kendle suggests, we would, in my opinion, lose most of the extensive non-History enrolment which the 180-level courses currently attract." Prof. Forster adds that converting the 180-series courses into essay courses would constitute an increase to the workload of the faculty.
3. The concern about the "lack of structure" in the Area of Concentration seems to spring from a failure to grasp the difference between general programs and honors programs at Western.
4. Prof. Kendle's concerns about first-year offerings seems to betray some confusion about what is actually offered (he does not distinguish the offerings of the Affiliates from those of the Department). In addition, he seems unclear about the way in which History 030E serves the needs of ACS students, its main constituency.
5. The view that the Department's curriculum has not been reconsidered for many years is simply incorrect. Prof. Sea writes that "the curriculum is discussed and reconsidered every year as part of the process of assigning teaching loads. The process does not necessarily result in sweeping changes, but new courses are introduced and others phased out on a ongoing basis, while the programs as a whole are regularly reviewed by the Curriculum committee."
6. The Department is at present heavily reliant on the services of limited-duties faculty, who teach 25-30% of its courses. It is agreed that this situation is problematic, but it is seen as the only way in which the Department can sustain its programs with its reduced complement of full-time, permanent faculty. The greater integration of the part-timers into the life of the Department that is desired by Prof. Vipond will be facilitated by the new Collective Agreement, as Prof. Forster notes.
7. The Department is in the process of introducing more half-courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level, thus addressing the concerns expressed by the appraisers.
8. "The requirements of the gateway courses (History 231, 234 & 236) into the honors program are high. They are intended to challenge the best students we have in the program and elicit their best work. The requirements do that, and students in later years are frequently grateful for having 'walked on coals' in their second year." (Prof. Forster).
Reflections on the Review Process
The review of the Department of History seems to reflect the current guidelines. The reports by Prof. Kendle and Prof. Vipond both offer a clear and judicious assessment of the Department. While they may not have grasped fully the distinctive culture of the department at Western, they have nonetheless delineated well the character of its offerings and have emphasized its manifest strengths. Most of the concerns expressed have taken neither the past Chair nor his successor by surprise; both are clear about the challenges that face the Department, and the appraisals reinforce their view that faculty renewal is the most pressing issue now before the Department.
PRC Reviewer: C. G. Brown, Classical Studies
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Faculty of Arts
The external review of the Department of Modern Languages and Literature (MLL) was conducted by Dr. Antonio Gomez-Moriana, Simon Fraser University, and Dr. Jean Wilson, McMaster University. These individuals were invited to serve as external appraisers in late July 1999 and visited UWO for two days in late October 1999. They submitted their confidential report to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts by way of letter dated November 18, 1999. The reviewers' report did not specifically set out recommendations so it was necessary to go through the report and identify those items that appeared to be recommendations.
On March 29th I discussed the review process and the recommendations with Dr. Marjorie Ratcliffe, the outgoing chair of MLL. On May 31, 2000 I met with Prof. Angela Esterhammer, the incoming chair of the department.
According to the external reviewers, MLL is "no different from other Departments of Modern Languages and Literatures across Canada in finding itself beset with problems arising from a history of amalgamation necessitated by declining enrollment in "foreign" language and literature programs." This history of amalgamation and limited resources was confirmed in my discussions with both chairs. The recommendations provided by the external reviewers were designed to address this less than desirable situation.
Our recommendations centre around the need for the Department to arrest the trend toward balkanization and to develop both a strong focus and coherent, long-term plan that will lead to an atmosphere of greater confidence and a position of greater strength and stability.
Recommendations and Responses
My analysis of the external reviewers' report resulted in the listing of eight recommendations that I have listed under three broad headings (Appendix A). First, a need for increased coordination and review. This would appear to be an outcome of the history of consolidation of language programs and the need to stop and consider the human and academic impact of the mergers. Second a shift in students' interests in language education with a move towards Spanish and to some extent towards Italian. The third deals with the comparative literature stream.
Prior to our meeting, Prof. Esterhammer prepared her own summary of recommendations along with the department's response to each of those recommendations (appendix B). I have compared the recommendations with a list that I had prepared and with the exception of one recommendation (to be discussed shortly), I believe they represent an appropriate summary of the external reviewers' report. The department's response indicates that the external review has been given serious consideration and that actions have been taken or will be taken to address the issues raised.
The external reviewers, in my opinion, expressed concern about the increasing importance of the Spanish unit in the department. This increase in importance is the result of increased student demand for courses in Spanish language and culture and the department's efforts to satisfy this demand. The external reviewers suggest that "resources that are currently being directed toward the Spanish M.A. program might be better deployed." The outgoing chair believes that following this recommendation would be a complete disaster. The incoming chair indicates in point 5 of Appendix A that "Spanish is growing rapidly both here and across the continent, so we favor strengthening and "taking ownership" of the existing program."
Such a difference of opinion is bound to happen from time to time. Personally, I view the issue of allocating resources to Spanish or some other part of the department as being strategic in nature. As such, I believe that the course of action is up to the Department Chair. In addition, I find it difficult to oppose a course of action that is consistent with student demand for courses. The department is considering introducing new languages and is gradually expanding Italian offerings. These actions should mitigate any negative impact associated with the growth in Spanish.
Issue of Process
Prof. Ratcliffe raised a concern regarding the process of conducting the review. She indicated concern that neither of the external reviewers were on a list of possible reviewers she provided to the Dean and she was not further consulted about the selection of the individuals. This lack of communication could have been the result of Prof. Ratcliffe being away in May of 1999. When the reviewers visited campus they were unfortunately late for their meeting with Prof. Ratcliffe. As a result, the meeting had to take place over lunch, resulting in a lack of time to discuss issues in confidence.
While scheduling problems arise on occasions, every effort should be made to permit a private meeting with the director of the program under review. This would encourage frank and open discussion that could provide valuable input for the external reviewers' comments. Having this meeting near the end of the external reviewers visit may permit some clarification of issues that the reviewers became aware of during the review.
There is little doubt that the Modern Language and Literature department has struggled over the years to survive. It appears that a lack of resources has limited the research output and has at least partially been the cause of concerns about internal coordination. Despite the very limited resources available, I am impressed with the determination and resilience of the department. I believe that Prof. Esterhammer has the desire and drive to more fully coordinate the department.
On a more personal note, I also found the opportunity to interact with a faculty member from another faculty very useful. Beyond a discussion of the external review we discussed how we could work together to permit HBA and MBA students to enhance their international training by taking language courses.
A Summary of Recommendations
Increased Coordination and Review
1. More coordination among the language sections and across different levels of instruction within in language sections.
2. Recommend that Department meet more regularly. Key decisions (e.g. hiring) need to be made with long-range objectives of department in mind. Concern that different sections left to fend for themselves and that Department has not taken ownership of all of its offerings.
3. Recommend that thought be given to creating a single position of undergraduate Coordinator to replace the 4 separate section Coordinators. (Concern to reduce administrative load carried by some).
Impact of Growth in Spanish
1. Lack of balance in program offerings, Spanish is dominating. Develop a plan to preserve and develop all existing language sections - German, Russian and Spanish.
2. Italian should be promoted and instruction in other languages should be considered.
3. Resources directed toward Spanish M.A. program should be redeployed.
1. Comparative Literature and Culture program undergo a thorough curricular review. Frank and open review of whom teaches what and why.
2. Give serious consideration to development of Ph.D. program in Comparative literature.
Response of the Chair
In terms of the "Summary of Recommendations" provided in Appendix A, action has already been taken on all those that relate to undergraduate programs. Under "increased Coordination and Review", the Department meets more regularly, at least once a month, as of September 2000, (#2), and the position of Undergraduate Chair has been created and is being filled by Prof. G. Eramian, (#3), both these changes have resulted in greater coordination among the language programs (#1) -- including curriculum revisions that were passed in the fall of 2000 to standardize the numbers, course titles, and course levels across all the language programs. Under "Impact of Growth in Spanish", it should be noted that the Department considers the popularity of and demand for Spanish programs a very positive development. Nevertheless, there are plans in place to preserve and develop the German and Russian programs, and to begin offering courses in Polish again as student demand warrants. New courses in Japanese and Arabic are in the planning stages. Undergraduate curriculum review of the Comparative Literature and Civilization program, as well as the other departmental programs, is underway in the newly formed Undergraduate Studies Committee, and will be discussed by the entire department at a special retreat in January 2001.
PRC Reviewer: Darroch (Rick) Robertson, Richard Ivey School of Business
Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Science
The Department of Political Science offers courses of study within the normal (general) B.A., and B.A. (honors), M.A., Ph.D. and also through the Local Government Program. This summary is based on materials provided by a self-assessment document of the department and the reports of two external reviewers. The self assessment report provided a comprehensive review of undergraduate and graduate programs of the department. The two external reviewers were: (1) Prof. Allan Tupper, Department of Political Science, University of Alberta; (2) Carolyn Tuohy, Deputy Provost and Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto.
Summary of Review and Recommendations
1. In general, both reviewers were very positive about the effectiveness of the department and the Department Chair, Prof. Bob Young, (the Chair at the time of the review).
2. There was high research productivity with modest tenured faculty. All faculty were active in research and teaching and 12/17 have grants in the last ten years from SSHRC. There was also a high commitment to teaching of undergraduates and teaching evaluations were found to be better than average. The reviewers also found an excellent link between teaching and research.
3. One of the reviewers considered this department to be one of the top ten departments in Canada. A positive attitude and optimism was detected and the department was continuing to do better than previously. Morale was found to be positive in general and the Chair was held in high regard. The Honors program was considered excellent by students and alumni.
4. Both reviewers felt that a long term plan or vision should be presented. This plan or vision should address the following issues:
a) Planning for faculty recruitment and retention;
b) Integration of new faculty members into the department;
c) Modification of curriculum and program content to meet new challenges such as the proposed 4 year degree program and adequate resources to handle the transition;
d) Future goals and directions for the department in terms of teaching and research, i.e., should most areas of political science be covered, or more specialized offering based on existing strengths be developed. The proposed long term vision should fit with changing trends both outside and inside the faculty and also in relation to broader changes in public policy and the environment. One reviewer suggested that a committee on research and teaching be formed to help in developing this long term plan or vision.
5. The reviewer also felt the need to carefully examine the trends in enrolment in order to compare the general and the honors program.
6. The reviewers had concerns about the teaching loads and under-staffing. The following new appointments were suggested: International relations; urban government; and comparative politics. The narrowness of the recruitment base was some cause of concern.
7. The reviewer felt the need to integrate information technology into the curriculum.
8. One of the reviewers suggested that perhaps there was a heavy focus on Canadian politics and government and duplication of materials across courses was occurring. Coverage of political philosophy has fluctuated, even though this is considered a strength by the department.
Departmental Response and Subsequent Actions
1. The Department pointed out that both external reviewers were extremely positive. The external reviewers praised the faculty and staff in this department, and were most complimentary about the commitment to research and teaching, the excellence of the graduate and undergraduate programs, and overall success.
2. With regard to formulating a long term plan or vision, the department has initiated a planning exercise which includes a comprehensive discussion of the departmental priorities with respect to the undergraduate program. A retreat was held on June 28, where such discussion was initiated. On July 1, 2000, Prof. A. Sancton replaced Prof. Young as the new Chair. In discussions with Prof. Sancton, it was found that these initiatives are continuing. The Department expects that if consensus emerges about desirable changes, the Chair and the relevant committees (including the Planning and Priorities Committee) will bring forward proposals for departmental action.
The initiatives also include:
a) Planning for faculty recruitment, in connection with the Canada Research Chairs and the fund-raising for the Allan O'Brien Chair in Local Government.
b) Discussions with the more recent recruits about their teaching and research needs and objectives. The Undergraduate Committee has been working on new four-year general degree programs, in consultation with many other departments, for the last four months. In connection with the 125th Anniversary Campaign, a lot of effort has been made on raising money for the Political Economy Research Group and the Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict Research Group.
c) An on-line version of Political Science 020E, the introductory course, is being offered and some on-line modules for two courses in our MPA program are being developed. These courses are expensive to develop, and more effort will require more funding.
d) The recruitment base has broadened by hiring an Europeanist who took his Ph.D. at Harvard and a political philosopher with a Ph.D. from Minnesota.
3. The Department had concerns about teaching loads and space availability. As detailed in the Research Plan that accompanied proposals for Canada Research Chairs, the first priority is to hire an International Relations theorist. Space is a major concern. The 12 full-time MPA students share one big office that was created from a seminar room, and part-time instructors share inside offices. The M.A. and Ph.D. students also have small offices. There is some apparent duplication in the Canadian offerings, but one needs to remember that Honors students don't take General courses. Political philosophy has fluctuated because of sabbatical leaves, but this is now up to strength.
In conclusion, the Department of Political Science is doing an excellent job and is considered one of the top ten departments in Canada. The department has taken positive steps and initiatives to address the issue of long term planning and recruitment activities in the future.
PRC Reviewer: A. Bassi, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
The Department of Physiology has a long history in the Faculty of Medicine at Western which spans most of the past century. As with the University as a whole, substantial growth in the Department occurred in the expansion era of the 1970's and it now lists a core faculty complement of 19, plus 4.5 staff positions. As noted in the Department's extensive Self-Study Analysis (dated May, 2000), there is a tradition of high achievement in both Physiology teaching and research over the years, which has culminated in a number of awards in these two endeavours to various faculty members. A Department review was conducted in Spring, 2000 in preparation for a search for a new Chair; Dr. Robert Kline's term ends June, 2001. Two external reviewers visited the campus on June 27 and 28th, 2000 - Dr. Alvin Schrier from the Department of Physiology, McGill University and Dr. Kenneth C. Marshall, Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa. Their report and Dr. Kline's response in writing (dated July 25th, 2000) were also available for the present assessment on behalf of the Provost's Review Committee.
Summary of the External Review
The reviewers noted that the strengths of the department centre around a well-organized core group of faculty who work well together and excel in research. This group's external peer-reviewed funding is at a high level, along with a publication rate which averages over 3 papers/faculty member per year. There is also an extensive network of 31 cross-appointed members located in local research institutes. There were 46 graduate students registered in Spring, 2000 (24 MSc and 22 PhD), which works out to an average of 1 per faculty member, considering that a primary role of cross-appointed scientists involves graduate supervision and teaching. Specifically relevant to this review is that the department offers 18-20 undergraduate courses per year to 1200 students in three Faculties (Medicine & Dentistry, Health Sciences and Science). Since the majority of these 18-20 courses appear to be fourth year elective offerings for small classes of Honors Physiology students, the overall number of 1200 students arises primarily from an Introductory lecture and tutorial course on Human Physiology that is offered to a variety of students from the Health professions, Bachelor of Health Sciences program, and also other groups from Science, Social Sciences and Arts. There are also similar types of introductory courses for the Medical and Dental students. A third course with relatively large enrolment is Biology 310, considered a departmental "flagship course" with 3 hours lecture and 3 hours laboratory experience per week, whose 160 students receive instruction via several faculty and staff, plus18 Teaching Assistants. One of the reviewers' comments in their Assessment (under the heading of "Threats" to the Department) was about the pressure created by "A significant increase in the demand for undergraduate physiology and the honors program has occurred in the last 5 years," linked to the pending retirements of some of the senior faculty who are teaching these courses, plus the increased enrolment pressure expected from the anticipated double-cohort in Fall, 2003.
It was also noted by the reviewers that the quality of the undergraduate courses is high and this was linked to an excellent attitude of the faculty and Chair towards their teaching role. Verification of this assessment appears in the ratings of undergraduate courses and instructors published annually on the UWO website, along with the observation that a key faculty member in the teaching assignments, who has an Instructor position, stands out in his teaching excellence. The relevance of this point is the concern expressed in the Self-Study Analysis and echoed by the reviewers that budgetary pressures put these types of position at risk. The scenario is raised that elimination of these Instructors could result in "magnified teaching responsibility for the regular professors," some of whom may be highly specialized in cell and molecular biology and unprepared to handle the integrative Physiology courses offered to the health professional programs and science students. Thus, recruitment of new and younger faculty members over the coming decade to replace several retirements, along with retention of the experienced and excellent departmental Instructors is a crucial element in maintaining a high quality undergraduate program. The pressure from impending retirements was created in part by the fact that several replacements in the 1990's were not made at the Assistant Professor level but with senior faculty appointments. While appointments to such initiatives as Canada Research Chairs would keep the Department's research profile high, it is less clear how these would impact on undergraduate teaching.
A second important issue raised was the current level of funding available for Graduate Teaching Assistants. As noted above, one lecture/laboratory course is particularly resource-intensive (Biology 310), and relies on 18 T.A. positions. The Department of Physiology Self-Study indicated that $75,000 is received from the UWO Faculty of Graduate Studies for these positions, plus another $15,000 in Special University Scholarships. The large shortfall is apparently made up from departmental funds, which again is a vulnerable item in these times of severe budget restraint. It is recommended that support for Teaching Assistants be increased within the participating Faculty budgets.
Finally, two other issues were raised, one of which will have a clearer impact on undergraduate teaching than the other. The first of these was the pending renovations of the Medical Sciences Building. In the short term, this may be quite disruptive for the organization of both student laboratories and classroom scheduling, but would hopefully result in beneficial upgrades being in place before the pressure of the double-cohort. Second, was the initiation of discussions about a possible merger of the Department of Physiology with the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, which apparently was raised by Dean Carol Herbert. As has been the case in other merger and amalgamation proposals, there was little initial support from the faculty members involved to change a structure which they perceived to be working well, plus expressed concern about the potential loss of specific departmental identities and collegiality. As per one of the mandates of the external review, these two observers also reflected on how a possible merger might add affect the department's search for a new Chair: they affirmed these faculty concerns, while adding that the matter might arise "if an outstanding candidate for joint Chair were found who would be seen to benefit the faculty and programs of both departments."
Response of the current Chair, Dr. R.L. Kline (relevant points to undergraduate program)
Dr. Kline agreed with the critical need to recruit younger faculty members, and reflected that the opportunity to replace early retirements would help start this process of renewal. Substantially increased funding of Teaching Assistantship positions is also an important issue since the present situation creates difficulty in attracting more Physiology graduate students to the department. Continuing to be able to retain the full-time and part-time Lecturers was also identified. An additional point made by Prof. Kline was the importance of mentoring for not just research activity but also all aspects of the teaching of Physiology too. Opportunities were also mentioned regarding innovative teaching methods such as web-based instruction for the Introductory courses. These initiatives would require support from the central administration. Finally, Dr. Kline noted the importance of making a concentrated, time-limited search for his replacement, someone who will need to deal effectively with the major challenges of an upcoming renovation period, inadequate animal care facilities, dealing with the UWOFA collective agreement and the ongoing pressures created by past and CONTINUING budget cuts - factors [among others] which all impact on undergraduate teaching.
The current Chair's reaction to the above report indicated that he found it to have captured the essence of the various review procedures surrounding the department's search process. He emphasized concerns about the Teaching Assistant budget and more generally, the issue of how to maintain excellence in the face of modelling a reduction again for 2001-2002.
The review of the Department of Physiology was initiated due to the completion of the current Chair's term in June, 2001. This situation stimulated a very thorough Self-Study Analysis of the department, which was prepared by its Chair and Executive Committee in time for an external review at the end of June, 2000. The Department is evidently and justifiably proud of its record of offering high quality undergraduate courses to a wide variety of Western students, and the current faculty members are clearly dedicated to continuing this tradition, along with a strong emphasis on research productivity. The External Reviewers appeared to have done an excellent job of assessing both the strengths and weaknesses of this department. As with other units in the University, key issues centre around the prevailing sense that the budget restraint attributed to chronic underfunding of Ontario universities has put the department in a vulnerable position of slipping from its long history of excellence in research and teaching. Pressures such as the pending retirement of several experienced Physiology teachers and anticipated increases in course enrolment with the Ontario double-cohort create concern for the coming decade.
PRC Reviewer: Anthony Vandervoort, School of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences
Department of Visual Arts, Faculty of Arts
This report is based on (a) documentation provided by the department, (b) external review of the department submitted in October 1999 by Professor Lynda Gammon, University of Victoria, and Professor Carol Zemel, SUNY Buffalo, (c) a Response Clarification relating to the review from Dr. Lennon, submitted to the Dean of Arts January 19, 2000, and (d) a follow-up meeting with Dr. Madeline Lennon, Chair of the department, on April 17, 2000.
Summary of Review and Recommendations
The reviewers found the Visual Arts Department to be generally healthy and thriving, noting in particular its distinctive nature in combining Studio Arts and Art History in one department, with a programmatic emphasis in modern and contemporary art. The reviewers further noted that the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre "cannot be matched in the country" and that the Visual Resources Library is "one of the most up-to-date these reviewers have seen."
1. Tension between the dual streams in the department
It was noted that some tension is created between the dual streams of the department: Studio Arts students are concerned with balancing writing assignments with studio time; Art History students seem to be uncertain of their ability to do well in studio courses. In summary, however, the reviewers felt that this tension was minimal and stressed that it is a strength, rather than a weakness, of the program's structure that these issues are central to curriculum discussion and debate.
The reviewers commented, in particular, on two specific aspects of the tension between the two academic streams in the department. The department recently eliminated the studio requirement for the Art History Honors stream, and the wisdom of this decision seemed to contradict the unique and declared mission of the department. It was also noted, particularly at the graduate level, that both faculty and students on the Art History side do not seem to support the work of the MFA students. The reviewers suggest that the faculty, in particular, should be encouraged to attend the exhibitions of the MFA students they teach.
2. Budgetary and Staffing concerns
The reviewers noted, both at undergraduate and graduate levels, the need to keep studio courses capped at reasonable numbers, and that the department should not be expected to increase enrollment in those courses. Some caution was expressed about the introduction of new studio half-courses, in particular concerns relating to budget, staffing, and student programming. There was also high praise for an "exciting and invigorating" renewal in the faculty complement over the past five years, but still a need for increased cultural diversity. At the graduate level, the reviewers noted that the pace is brisk and six faculty have to deliver a wide range of graduate courses. They asked whether some of these courses might be covered in offerings from Theory and Criticism. Further on staffing, there was a concern that a joint appointment with the Faculty of Information and Media Studies had not yet materialized. The reviewers made special note of the funding problems of the Media Lab and the need to recognize that such a facility needs continued support for maintenance and upgrade.
3. Undergraduate Art History Program
In the undergraduate Art History program, the reviewers found three areas of possible concern and future planning. They noted recent successful projects in Museum and Curatorial Studies, employing part-time faculty and the resources of the McIntosh Gallery and the London Regional and Historical Museums. It was suggested that the Museum Studies courses be regularized and possibly expanded with other pre-professional options such as Art and Law, Architectural Heritage, Art Conservation. A second recommendation, especially in areas of pre-modern art history, was that there should be more cross-listing of courses and links to other departments. The final area of concern was that there is no declared attention in the Art History program to work outside the Western Euro-American canon.
Departmental Response and Subsequent Actions
1. Tension between the dual streams in the department
The Chair acknowledged that a certain tension does exist between the two streams in the department and, with the reviewers, feels that it is an essential part of the character of the department. On the issue of a required studio course for students in the Art History program, the Chair commented that, firstly, many Art History students still do take a studio course with department permission and, secondly, that the decision to drop the program requirement may have been hastily conceived and is currently under reconsideration.
2. Budgetary and Staffing concerns
The new menu of half-courses in studio techniques, approved in the Fall of 1999, will permit more program flexibility and allow more students to take studio courses without having to push enrolments beyond reasonable levels. The Chair also indicated that a current "bulge" in the population of studio courses will move through the program and provide some relief. Up to this time, the proposed joint appointment with the Faculty of Information and Media Studies has only been occupied with temporary appointments; there is some hope that it might be filled on a more continuing basis beginning in 2001.
1. Undergraduate Art History Program
On the matter of providing more pre-professional options for Art History students, the Chair commented that this is a common concern, particularly because it is perceived that these students need more professional expertise for the job market. It was further noted that there is a relatively high job placement rate for all Visual Arts graduates. To provide other areas of pre-professional study other than Museum Studies would require a "different niche" for the department, since most of these areas would stretch the resources of the department, particularly with the current focus in contemporary art.
With regard to the concern with more cross-listing with courses in other departments, it was noted that Visual Arts students do interdisciplinary courses, particularly in areas such as Theory and Criticism, and that cross-listing courses does pose administrative problems in staffing and supporting such courses and satisfying the expectations of students from diverse areas of interest.
Although there is an obvious need to make some provision for courses in Art History outside the Western Euro-American canon in our multicultural environment, such provision is especially problematic in times of severe budget restraint. The next time the department can project a new appointment would be in 2004, and the Chair indicates that an appointment with a cultural specialization might well be considered then. At the same time, however, in a small department, such an appointment would have to be not so specialized that other needs of the department could not be covered as well.
Summary and Reflections on the Review Process
It is evident that the tone of the review of the Department of Visual Arts is generally very positive, in particular noting the physical facilities, library resources, and the capable leadership of Dr. Lennon. There is also certain evidence that the department is seriously looking at the concerns raised in the review, given certain practical problems. Under current fiscal restraints, more pre-professional options in the Art History program, as well as more cultural diversity, are virtually impossible to implement in the near future. The tension between the historical and practical streams in the department is a condition that will likely always exist and should not be a cause for major concern.
PRC Reviewers: Peter Clements, Faculty of Music; Mark Kissel, USC
Program in Women's Studies, Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences
Basis for this Report
Information for this report came from the Departmental submissions prepared in anticipation of this review, the joint report of the consultants, Drs. Veronica Strong-Boag from the University of British Columbia and Maryse Rinfret-Raynor from the Universite de Montreal, supplementary written information from the Department, and interviews with Professor McKenna and Ms. Julie Ashford.
The Centre for Women's Studies and Feminist Research (CWSFR) began in 1987. It is jointly sponsored by the Faculties of Arts and Social Science and is administered by a Director in consultation with an Advisory Committee. The Director reports to the Provost. The CWSFR and the Centre for Research on Violence against Women and Children were recently amalgamated. Dr. Katherine McKenna was hired as Director of both Centres in October 1997. Her academic appointment is in the Department of History.
The CWSFR began in 1987. It administers the undergraduate programs in Women's Studies which began in 1989 by offering a three-year straight BA and four-year Combined Honors BA. In 1999 it added a four-year Honors BA. Since 1997, it has revamped many courses, especially at the third and fourth year levels. This has resulted in an increase both in numbers of courses and in enrollment (Table).
Women's Studies Course and Enrollment Data
|Number of Full Course Equivalents (FCE's)||4.0||5.5||12||15||18.5|
|# Students in 3 yr Programs||14||41||32||26||48|
|# Students in 4 yr Programs||28||25||37||48|
|Weighted Teaching Units (WTU's)||35||125|
|Total Course registrants||150||500|
|% Marks A or B||Not available||77||61||75||Not available|
The combined and joint degrees are carried out with 20 Departments in the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences. Enrolment in each of these is modest (<5) with the exception of English, Sociology, and Political Science. Women's Studies courses are highly rated (average course evaluation is just less than 6.0/7.0). Graduates of the programs are employed in variety of positions.
The External Review was written jointly by the two reviewers. The key points were as follows:
The reviewers were asked to comment on the workload of the Director. The Director felt that the reviewers' report clearly articulated many of the Directors' concerns, but disagreed on the issue of space. Eight part-time faculty teaching 12 full courses share a single office. Despite the heavy existing responsibilities, the Director is looking forward to expanding both courses and student enrollment. Overtures for collaborations with Health Sciences, Education, and possibly Medicine are underway.
The CWSFR is striving to maintain and build its courses, programs, and position within the University. While this is laudable, expansion into these areas will require even more administrative attention from already very busy core faculty. The current offerings seem to be well received and of high quality.
The External Review itself addressed many wider issues, such as the structure and governance of the Centre, the status of part-time faculty members, and the relationship between the CWSFR and the Centre for Research on Violence against Women and Children. This reviewer felt that these issues, while outside the mandate of the PRC, were clearly stated.
PRC Reviewer: Sara B. Galsworthy, Microbiology and Immunology
School of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences
The School of Physical Therapy has undergone and continues to undergo significant changes. The undergraduate Physical Therapy Program was initiated in 1967 within the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. In 1982, a Masters of Clinical Sciences was approved. Two years later, the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences was created to encompass the School of Physical Therapy, the School of Occupational Therapy, and the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. In 1997, the Faculties of Applied Health Sciences, Kinesiology, and Nursing were amalgamated into the new Faculty of Health Sciences.
At the current time, the School of Physical Therapy offers two programs. The undergraduate program, which has an enrollment of 64 students per year, is a three-year "professional program" leading to a BSc(PT). As of last year, applicants to this program were required to have a minimum of a three-year bachelors degree. The School also offers a thesis-based masters program which, since 1991, has led to a MSc degree. The enrollment over the last seven years has ranged between 9 and 15 MSc students. The Faculty of Health Sciences also has a PhD program in Rehabilitation Sciences, which admitted its first student in September, 1999.
Plans are in place to convert the undergraduate professional program into a two-year graduate program leading to a Masters of Physical Therapy (MPT). Applicants to the masters program would be required to have a four-year degree, which includes specified courses. The faculty complement would remain the same, but the class size would be reduced from 64 to 44 students. This initiative has been under discussion for approximately four years, and it was originally proposed that the first students be admitted in the fall of 2002. The decision to convert the undergraduate professional program into a graduate program is consistent with the trend in American physical therapy programs and the requirements, as of 2002, of the American accreditation body.
Summary of the External Review
The review was conducted by Dr. Darlene Reid, Division of Physical Therapy, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of British Columbia, and Dr. Sandra Olney, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen's University. The review was conducted in January and the written report was submitted to the Dean of Health Sciences in February, 2000. Overall, the review was favorable in terms of the facilities, staff, faculty, students, and program. One of the major challenges facing the undergraduate program was, as in many other programs, the limit on financial and human resources.
The reviewers commented positively on the existing facilities which had been renovated in 1990-1991. While the faculty complement had increased significantly since the 1990s, it had been subject to dramatic fluctuations. It was suggested that the full-time faculty complement was now likely to remain relatively stable at 12 positions. The reviewers noted that components of the program were dependent on part-timers, and clinicians who supervised student placements without charge. Part-time faculty provided considerable unpaid classroom teaching and several courses were provided free by physicians and other medical personnel. Moreover, approximately 300 clinicians supervised students in clinical placements.
The reviewers were quite complimentary of the staff and their willingness to put in additional hours. However, the reviewers concluded that the current staffing level was inadequate to meet the School's needs. Faculty were required to spend too much time on administrative duties such as compiling course materials, administering clinical placements and setting up classrooms. The reviewers specifically noted confusion and inefficiencies in addressing problems with audio-visual and IT equipment, and in setting up equipment in classrooms. The reviewers called for an increase in the administrative staff to reduce the burden on faculty.
The reviewers were generally positive about the existing undergraduate program, noting that it had been favorably reviewed by the relevant accreditation agencies. Indeed, the BSc program met or exceeded the requirements for admission, progression and graduation. The reviewers noted that the content of the program significantly exceeded the minimum requirements for other non-professional bachelors and masters programs.
The reviewers raised two concerns about the undergraduate program. While the program was extremely intensive, it placed what were considered excessive teaching demands on the faculty. They called for a review of the curriculum including some specific courses to ensure that the teaching and teaching-related activities did not unduly limit faculty members' research opportunities. Their second concern was the problem of obtaining sufficient clinical placements for students. This necessitated reducing the clinical rotation from 33 to 28 weeks for the graduating class. The reviewers stated that the School had to make "explicit choices that will contain efforts spent on the professional program if they are to increase research activity and to increase the graduate student complement".
The reviewers commented positively on replacing the current undergraduate professional program with a more limited graduate professional program. They described the proposal as a "proactive" step that would make the School one of the first 3 out of the 13 Canadian Schools to offer a Masters in Physical Therapy. Moreover, the proposal would help alleviate the heavy teaching demands on faculty, ease the task of securing sufficient clinical placements, and ensure ongoing accreditation. However, they stated that the School must be "imaginative in designing the new professional master's program to be contained comfortably within current resources, especially concerning the requirement of a research experience". The School must ensure that the implementation of the professional masters program allows "members of faculty to fulfill the University's expectation regarding time devoted to research".
The Response of Dr. J. Kramer, Director, School of Physical Therapy
The Director agreed, in general, with most of the reviewers' comments and suggestions. Dr. Kramer indicated that action had already been taken on many of these matters. He noted that the School had undergone substantial change over the last five years. Nevertheless, during that period, the School had completed its first professional accreditation, obtained accreditation for the MSc program, begun streamlining the undergraduate curriculum, and developed the proposal for the Masters of Physical Therapy.
The Director indicated that the Faculty of Health Sciences was hiring an admissions clerk in the near future, which would add one-third of an administrative position to the existing staff complement of the School of Physical Therapy. While this additional staff support will ease the administrative burden, it is unclear whether this level of assistance will adequately address the administrative needs identified by the reviewers.
The Director accepted the need to review the undergraduate program to reduce the heavy teaching demands, ensure more appropriate course weighting and eliminate redundancies. The Director stated that the process of curriculum reform had been under way for some time and that additional recommendations were in process. In the Director's view, the move to a professional graduate program would address many of these curriculum concerns, including decreasing classroom teaching hours, and more appropriately weighting courses.
The Director noted some transition problems with implementing the proposed graduate program. However, he also identified the possibility of developing an integrated course to meet the needs of all three Schools. These course developments had necessitated further review and refinement of the curriculum for the professional graduate program. Consequently, the Director was of the view that the proposed launch of the Masters of Physical Therapy, scheduled for fall 2002, would likely have to be postponed.
The Director noted that a factor in developing the Masters of Physical Therapy program was the need to decrease the teaching burden on faculty. He also noted that it was essential for faculty to be given appropriate credit for all teaching-related activities. In his view, this would encourage faculty to squarely address questions of "entry-to-competency education", student directed learning and the practicality of elective courses.
In response to the reviewers' concerns about external grants and research productivity, the Director indicated that the School had been moving to develop a "culture of research". The Director noted that faculty instability, the number of relatively junior faculty and the lack of appropriate funding opportunities in rehabilitation had to be acknowledged. Nevertheless, in the Director's view, the research profile and productivity of Western's School of Physical Therapy, relative to comparable programs, clearly demonstrated that it had already established a "substantial culture of research".
Comments of Dr. J. Garland, Current Director, School of Physical Therapy
The PRC Reviewer met with Dr. Garland to review the initial draft report on Thursday, October 26. The meeting was extremely helpful, particularly in understanding the challenges in converting the undergraduate professional program into a graduate program. Dr. Garland generally agreed with most of the comments of the external reviewers. However, like her predecessor, Dr. Garland indicated that the School already had a strong research and publication record. Indeed, she checked the publication record of the reviewers' home schools and concluded that Western's School had a stronger record of research and publication.
Dr. Garland explained that the shift to a Masters in Physical Therapy was also necessary to compete with the existing masters programs at the University of Toronto and McMaster. The strongest applicants would not likely come to Western to obtain a Bachelors in Physical Therapy, if they could obtain a Masters from Toronto or McMaster in the same amount of time.
Dr. Garland outlined several challenges facing the School in completing the transition to a graduate professional program. First, there is a need to reorient the curriculum to reflect the fact that half of the physical therapy jobs are now in the private sector. Second, the School needs to create 20 new courses and approximately 300 cases at a time of continuing fiscal restraint. The School had hoped that its total faculty complement would be 13 -- 12 faculty and an external director. Dr. Garland's appointment as Director has created problems in teaching coverage. Dr. Garland is concerned that with the existing and predicted budgetary restraints in the Faculty of Health Sciences, additional cutbacks will be necessary in the administrative or faculty complement. These financial problems will exacerbate the administrative situation, jeopardize the transition to a graduate professional program, and further increase the teaching burden on the faculty.
Overall, the reviewers commented favorably on the undergraduate program. Indeed, it would appear that the program was extremely intensive and rewarding from the students' perspective. One hopes that, in transforming this teaching-rich undergraduate program into a masters program, the strengths of the undergraduate program can be preserved. The past and current Directors have accepted most of the reviewers' comments and are attempting to implement the appropriate changes.
PRC Reviewer: R. Solomon, Faculty of Law
Update on the University's Undergraduate Program Review Audit
Western was subject to an audit of the undergraduate program review process in the second round of such provincial audits in May 1998. The audit was conducted by a team appointed by the Undergraduate Program Review Audit Committee of the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents. The final report of the UPRAC Auditors was issued in April 1999, and was generally very supportive and complimentary of Western's process of undergraduate program review. The report contained several recommendations and suggestions, all of which were addressed in a series of responses in 1999 and 2000. A two-year update of the University's responses to the Auditors' recommendations and suggestions is currently underway , with the focus on the final remaining documentation for review processes in the Affiliated Colleges. This conclusive stage in the Audit should be complete by April 2001, on the anniversary of the Auditors' final report of their review of Western's program review policies and processes.
The University and its Affiliated Colleges are in full conformation with the program review guidelines as set out by UPRAC/OCAV, and this report of the PRC to Senate and the Board of Governors addresses the institutional accountability aspects of those guidelines by documenting the rigor and thoroughness of undergraduate program review at Western.