Background and Context
This is the third 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, and the second in April, 2001. 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 most of the cases listed below, the reviews took place departmentally. There were, in this cycle, two reviews of Faculty-based undergraduate programs - in the Faculties of Education and of Medicine and Dentistry. In the Faculty of Education, the undergraduate program was evaluated in the context of a decanal review and accreditation by the Ontario College of Teachers. In the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, the undergraduate medical program was reviewed in connection with the accreditation procedures of the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.
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 units to determine specific actions occasioned by the consultants' reports. Finally, the PRC summary was reviewed by the appropriate Chairs and Deans, and their comments incorporated into a final report on the review process. Deans and Chairs were free to request a meeting with the Chair of the PRC and the designated reviewer to resolve any outstanding issues.
Program reviews contained in this report include:
Bachelor of Education, Faculty of Education
Basis of this Report
The information for this report was obtained from the Faculty documentation submitted to the Provost's Undergraduate Program Review Committee, including self-study documentation, as well as from a summary report provided by external evaluators of the Faculty of Education, which was submitted in March 2001. The external evaluators of the Faculty included Drs. Angela Hildyard, Stephen Norris, and Rena Upitis. Additional information from an Initial Accreditation Report from the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) also was available for review. Although the focus of the present summary is on undergraduate programs, the materials available also include information on the graduate level programs within the Faculty of Education.
The Faculty of Education was established in 1974, at which time two teacher education programs were merged. Currently, the program is the third largest in the province. The Faculty of Education provides pre-service teacher education, the Bachelor of Education and the Diploma in Education for Technological Studies. This program was revised in September 1999. The mission statement of the Faculty of Education is consistent with that of the University of Western Ontario in that shared interests are to "advance learning through teaching and research, to apply knowledge, and to provide and environment of free and creative inquiry" is valued. From the perspective of the professional goals of the Faculty of Education, the mission is to provide initial educational preparation, continuing education to professional teachers, as well as providing graduate programs that strive to "reflect the unity of theory and practice."
As noted, the Faculty of Education provides pre-service teacher education at the undergraduate level, the Bachelor of Education and the Diploma in Education for Technological Studies. The stated rationale for the development of the pre-service program was three-fold and included: (1) the need to increase the time spent in schools and practical activities, (2) the need to revise the academic program in order to accommodate increase practical time while making provisions for the new demands placed on teachers, and (3) the need to enhance the integration of practical and theoretical components of the program. The teacher education component of the program includes practical experience, coursework in instructional methods, and courses addressing the foundations of education. The consecutive pre-service program leads to either a Bachelor of Education or a Diploma of Education, thus, qualifying the candidate for certification by the OCT. Candidates for the Bachelor of Education degree typically enroll in the program after they have completed an undergraduate program in the arts or sciences. Students elect to serve in one of three divisions of the program, Primary/Junior, Junior/Intermediate, or Intermediate/Senior.
Within the Faculty of Education, the pre-service teacher education component is comprised of 825 students (2000-2001 academic year). The stated target enrollment is 820 students. The Faculty has identified that the maximum number of teacher candidates should be targeted at 750. As such, the "development and refinement" of this program was a central area of concern during the past academic year. The focus of this concern was generated from a student opinion survey that was conducted in the previous year. Faculty has stated the Transition to Professional Practice, believed to be the most innovative component of the program, was successful. Briefly, this program consisted of two parts where mornings were spent in simulation exercises with afternoon focused on special offerings that evolved from direct student requests. Further, over the full course of the program 10 short courses, 5 multi-session workshops, 33 workshops, in addition to 8 other activities were conducted. The success of this program was acknowledged to be aided by teacher unions who incurred the costs associated with the release of teachers so that they could participate in the simulation exercises.
Review of Documentation
Based on all information available for review, it does appear that the program continues to provide basic and expected levels of instruction, while at the same time permitting opportunities for special offerings as needed. Because of the fact that target enrollment has been achieved and in fact exceeded slightly, the facilities are used to its full capacity with a full schedule of courses and related time-tabling being full. This offers little programmatic flexibility from the standpoint of scheduling and the availability of facilities. Thus, some changes in the program may be necessary in the future. Another problem experienced in the last academic year was that related to the assignment of student teachers to associate teachers. This was reportedly a problem in the prior academic year (1999-2000), but the problem became more significant this past year. The reason identified for this problem was specifically noted to be the conflict between the provincial government and the teachers' federations relative to voluntary duties. Although all student teachers were successfully placed, many placements were identified by the Faculty of Education as being "inconvenient", although an explanation of the nature of this inconvenience was not specified.
The Faculty has clearly indicated that the problem associated with student placements would not be as significant if fewer students were enrolled in the undergraduate program. However, although data presented in the accreditation report only cover a period extending from 1995 to 1998, it does appear that graduates from the pre-service program have experienced an "upward trend in employment rates" over the four-year period addressed. Thus, the need for new teachers does appear to be growing, and may indeed continue to grow in the near future. Data from 1999 and 2000 were not available to confirm if this trend in increased employment for graduates has been maintained. However, the Faculty has apparently responded to the anticipated teacher shortage by admitting 100 teacher candidates above 1998-1999 levels. This has included increased admissions in pre-identified target areas including Mathematics, Technological Studies, and French Immersion at the Primary/Junior level of instruction.
As noted, the OCT performed an accreditation review in late February and early March 2000. The outcome of that review was favorable with "initial accreditation granted" for a period of four years. While the current enrollment for teacher candidates exceeds the ideal target desired by the Faculty, numerous issues of capacity have been raised. Specifically, and as noted previously, the physical facilities are currently being used to capacity and this does place some limitations on aspects of instructional organization and scheduling. The OCT Accreditation team has specifically identified that increased space may be required, particularly if the Faculty were to be relocated on the UWO campus.
External Review of Faculty of Education
Finally, a review of the report based on the external review of the program (submitted March 2001) provides a detailed summary of the undergraduate program in the Faculty of Education. Related to undergraduate programs specifically, some inconsistency was observed across the review materials on which this summary is based. At the outset it is necessary to acknowledge that the source of some of this information may problematic, most specifically, the survey tools used in some of the documentation. For example, survey information suggests that more the 85% of the graduates from the Faculty of Education would recommend the program to others. However, when issues of overall areas of academic and personal improvements are considered, graduates from the undergraduate component of the Faculty of Education rank at the bottom of those surveyed from other faculties on campus
In this regard, the external reviewers did note that the faculty should continue to "rethink" the pre-service program. The reason for this suggestion is the perception by both faculty and students that some duplication exists across courses, although faculty don't necessarily see the need to rethink the structure of the pre-service program. It was suggested by the reviewers that some of the 22 "teachables" within the secondary level might not need to be retained. Thus, concerns of workload from both the perspective of students and faculty members was raised as areas where refinements in how the program is offered may be of value to all involved. As the program currently stands, it was clearly advised that enrollment increases be avoided due to multiple issues (scheduling, need for additional sessional instruction, etc.), not to mention workload considerations.
The specific recommendations of the external reviewers ultimately center on how the program is offered and its relative impact on other academic endeavors of the faculty. As the Faculty also has graduate level educational streams, the impact of the present undergraduate program demands become more apparent. While specific details pertaining to more comprehensive aspects of the Faculty of Education (undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as continuing education programs) are well described in the external reviewers' report, minimally, it seems that some reconsideration of the number of courses offered, particularly within the current climate of dissent between government and teachers as a group, the financial limitations in lean fiscal times, and the professional and scholarly demands of individual faculty members, must be addressed as further refinements emerge. These concerns must also be addressed within the context of discrepancies between information gathered from survey tools (despite the limitations of such tools), and the perception of faculty as to how to best offer the strongest academic preparation for those seeking careers as teachers.
Based on collective information provided, the undergraduate, pre-service program in the Faculty of Education seems to provide basic and expected levels of instruction for teacher preparation. This standard has been acknowledged through recent program accreditation. However, the pre-service program remains relatively new and continued efforts to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of how requirements are met appears to be in the best interest of both students and faculty, as well as members of the community with whom these individuals cooperate.
PRC Reviewer: Philip C. Doyle, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders
MD Program: Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
A survey of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry was conducted in early March, 2000, by an ad hoc team representing the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. The report of the team was received by the Office of the President on November 17, 2000.
In addition to the team report, I have examined the Summary Report of the Institutional Self Study Task Force, submitted on September 7, 1999, and met, on January 5, 2001, with Dean Carol Herbert and Associate Dean (Admissions/Student & Equity Affairs) Jim Silcox, who provided me with copies of reports from the "Friends of the ISSTF."
Institutional Self Study Task Force Report
The Task Force made a large number of recommendations, which will be summarized briefly here.
Financial and resource concerns were understandably quite prominent. The Task Force recommended more cooperation between the Dean and the University and an external review of the financial relationships among the Faculty, the University, and the London Teaching Hospitals. It was recommended that the Dean lobby regarding funding for cross-Faculty teaching done by the Basic Medical Sciences Departments. Upgrading of the Medical Sciences Building and the centralization of the Dean's Offices were both considered important.
In terms of administration of the curriculum, the Task Force recommended development and maintenance of a curricular map, which would facilitate curriculum monitoring and coordination. Establishment of an Undergraduate Curriculum Coordinator position should be considered. More resources should be devoted to evaluation of curriculum outcomes and a process should be established for systematic evaluation of curricular elements. Elements targeted for special attention included the pharmacology course and the Patient-Centred Learning and Health, Illness and Society courses. The Task Force recommended the implementation of the recommendations of the Clinical Clerkship Review Task Force and a systematic review of objectives.
Recommendations on delivery methods included formation of guidelines for scheduling Preclinical Blocks, replacement of lectures with small group or independent learning in Preclinical Blocks, and the elimination of one-hour appearances of lecturers in the preclinical years. Increased exposure in the preclinical years to the work of graduate students in the Basic Sciences was proposed, in conjunction with identification and development of individuals with potential for graduate work.
Recommendations regarding improved communication included communication of the Dean's plans to faculty and students and a formal mechanism for examining feasibility, cost, and time requirements of changes arising from the self-study process. Regarding the student body specifically, the report advocated a follow-up of recommendations from task forces appointed by the Faculty, establishment of a Rapid Response Feedback Team for the Preclinical Blocks/courses, and formal introduction of key individuals from the Dean's Office to the first-year class. A policy statement on ranking of candidates for admission was called for, as were improvements to the interview process.
Regarding computers, it was recommended that incoming students be assessed on medically relevant computer skills and that a system of networked computers be considered for use by undergraduate medical students within the major teaching hospitals.
Setting up of a program for recruitment of new faculty was recommended, and ability to teach in the undergraduate medical curriculum was proposed as one of the criteria for the selection of new faculty in the basic sciences. A task force was proposed to consider problems with the appointments and remuneration process for clinical faculty. Recommended for faculty development were allocation of ongoing resources for the Office of Professional and Educational Development and faculty development activities aimed at potential future leaders. Improvement of the teacher assessment process and of the skills of resident teachers was suggested.
On the research side, the Task Force called for a strategic plan, the setting up of a coordinating council, and upgrading of facilities.
Also recommended in regard to enhancing medical education were ongoing strategic planning, streamlining of the committee structure, expansion of community involvement, and addressing of issues relating to hospital restructuring.
Ad Hoc Survey Team Report
As strengths of the program, the ad hoc team identified definition and communication of educational objectives, quick action by the new Dean, and an effective relationship with the University administration, student involvement in curriculum reform, the Learning Resource Centre, research, the system of student evaluation within the clerkship, and a successful rural program.
Several concerns were noted: inadequate incorporation of objectives throughout the curriculum, an inadequate structure and resources for designing, managing, and evaluating the curriculum, an unclear role for the Associate Dean of Professional and Educational Development, problems with the Patient-Centred Learning and Health, Illness and Society courses, predominance of lectures in years one and two, access implications of tuition increases, reductions in funding, and security in the student locker areas.
The team also noted some possibilities: standardization of evaluation arising from design of the third year into a single clerkship, taking advantage of the Canadian Research Chairs program, library representation on committees, and joint planning of space rehabilitation between the teaching hospitals and the University.
Comments of Dean Carol Herbert and Dr. Jim Silcox
The Dean noted that a mechanism had been established to ensure that no recommendations arising out of the self study were lost; an important part of this mechanism was the "Friends of the ISSTF," which issued reports in February and September 2000, and would soon be issuing a third report. Many of the recommendations in the report have already been dealt with, and the Dean's Office was committed to making students and faculty feel that their concerns have been responded to. Among actions addressing various recommendations of the self study report were a $37 million renovation of facilities, initiation of a new undergraduate program in basic medical science, a KPMG review of the Dean's Office, a new plan for clinical faculty remuneration, addition of a budget line for remuneration of inter-departmental work, progress on a curricular map, distribution to every faculty member of a new pamphlet explaining the ranking and admission process for applicants to the medical program, institution of an interview process keyed to EFPO (Educating Future Physicians of Ontario) roles, and revision of the undergraduate governance structure.
The Dean noted that some recommendations had reflected frustrations with situations at the time: for example, the idea of an external review of finances was really beyond the mandate of the Task Force but had arisen from previous difficulties in the relationship with the central administration of the University.
With regard to concerns of the ad hoc team, the Dean and Dr. Silcox made a number of observations: the Faculty is in the process of developing a structure for dealing with curriculum concerns; the role of the Associate Dean of Professional and Education Development is being clarified as that office matures; there have been some improvements in the courses identified as experiencing problems; lectures were sometimes the best way to promote learning, or alternatives might require additional resources. Student representatives and the Dean's Office have developed a document on accessibility which was included with the budget submission this year; the only point of disagreement is that students do not wish to see any tuition increase, while the Dean's Office believes there is no alternative if problems in undergraduate medical education are to be addressed; notably, any increase in tuition will be utilized for funding areas in undergraduate education that have been identified as problematic, such as curriculum coordination and evaluation.
On the specific possibility presented by the Canadian Research Chairs, the Dean noted that the Faculty planned to take advantage of this opportunity, but that, even with the current renovations, 18 new Chairs will require approximately 18,000 additional square feet of space, which in turn connotes additional costs to the Faculty.
A Health Research Plan is now in place for the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, the culmination of fifteen months of intensive work by a large number of investigators that began in September, 1999, when the new Dean arrived.
PRC Reviewer: Tim C. Craven, Faculty of Information and Media Studies
Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Social Science
Basis of this Report
Information for this report came from the Departmental submissions prepared in anticipation of review associated with the search for a new Chair and from the individual reviews of the consultants, Dr. Mac Marshall of the University of Iowa and Dr. Nancy Lovell, of the University of Alberta. I met with Dr. Ellis, the current Chair, on March 16, 2001.
The Department of Anthropology at UWO emerged from the Department of Geography in 1972. The four sub-disciplines of the field, Sociocultural, Archaeological, Biological/physical anthropology and Linguistics are represented. Strong interactions with the Centre for Teaching of Canadian Native Languages enhance both the Linguistics and Sociocultural areas. There also exists a formal connection between the Department and the London Museum of Archaeology. Exciting new inter-faculty interdisciplinary efforts are developing in Bioarchaeology. A promising new inter-faculty program in Linguistics offers an important opportunity for undergraduates.
The Department offers three introductory half-courses. Those intending to major in Anthropology must take 025F/G (Sociocultural) and one of 026F/G (Biological) and 027F/G (Linguistics) in the first year. The Department offers both a three year BA and a four year Honors BA in Anthropology. Enough courses exist that students may selectively direct their efforts into the fields of Linguistics, Biological Anthropology, or Archaeology during their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years. However, formal specializations are not offered. It is also possible to design Honors programs combining Anthropology with many programs in the Faculties of Arts, Social Sciences, and Information and Media Studies. A new combined Honors Anthropology and French Linguistics began in September, 2000.
Precise data on students' careers subsequent to their BA is unfortunately not available. This problem seems common to all our undergraduate programs. Surely coordination between Faculties and the Alumni Office could help design and effective questionnaire and mechanism to follow career paths. Students are reported to be satisfied with their undergraduate experience. However, many proceed into good graduate programs in Anthropology and many others into professional schools and occupations where their education is relevant.
It is difficult to trace the numbers of course offerings over the years because courses are continually remodeled to reflect changes in the field and in faculty interests and resources. In W 2000 23.5 full courses were offered. Enrolments in the three year BA seen to have decreased over the last several years, while numbers in the 4 year Honors program have increased somewhat. Total numbers have been fairly constant.
Both students and external evaluators expressed some areas of concern:
The situation is made even more difficult by the need for Faculty to take sabbatical and other leaves.
While satisfied that the program is fulfilling the students' academic needs and that students are progressing well, the Chair was fully cognizant of and sensitive to the above problems.
My conclusion is that this is a highly productive Department, active both in the traditional pursuits and in building new collaborations. The problems of insufficient Faculty resources are real, but not unique to this Department. The problem of increased class size may reflect the growing perceived relevance of Anthropology to various career paths. The new interdisciplinary endeavours as well as student demands may present a real opportunity to build on strength.
PRC Reviewer: Sara B. Galsworthy, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Science
Basis of Review and Introductory Comments
The report derives first from the comprehensive brief that the Department of Economics prepared as part of the self-review process required in selecting a new chair, and from the reports of three external appraisers: Dr. A. Lang, Boston University; Dr. M. Eichenbaum, Northwestern University; and Dr. N. Gallini, University of Toronto. In the concluding stages, J. Toswell also spoke with A. Slivinski, Acting Chair of the Department of Economics, for clarification on some points.
Economics did not emerge as an independent department until the mid-1960's. Prior to that, it was part of a larger department that included both political science and sociology. In the late 1960's, the department expanded rapidly, strengthening its undergraduate offerings (particularly at the honors level) and reactivating a dormant graduate program. This growth continued unabated until the late 1980's, but slowed in the 1990's when the department, like other departments at the university, was subject to budget cuts. Although protected from the full measure of reductions imposed on some other departments, Economics faced several major challenges. The department had difficulty retaining some of its leading scholars, who were lured away by generous offers from other institutions. When senior faculty left or retired, the department was required to replace them with entry-level appointments. Finally, the department faced, and still faces, stiff competition in recruiting the most promising young academics.
This is a large full-service department with a relatively small honors program, combined honors and options programs with many other departments, a strong 3-year program, additional 100-level courses for non-economics students, and strong M.A. and Ph.D. programs. The M.A. program has two streams, one for those planning to proceed to the doctorate, and the other for those seeking employment after the program. The department hosts three research groups: the Centre for Study of International Economic Relations (CSIER), which now includes the Transition Economics Research Form (TERF), and the Political Economy Research Group (PERG). Two additional research programs are in train: the Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI) and a five-year program in human capital and productivity funded by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which will principally involve those in the labour economics group. The department has always had high turnover, the result of which is a young and active faculty, but the benefits of this productive ferment have recently been outweighed by the loss of a disproportionate number of senior and mid-career faculty. Enrolment in department programs underwent a boom in the late 1980's, a decline through to 1996-97, at which point a rebound and rise leading to a current steady-state enrolment took place.
The department offers a three-year general BA and a four-year Honors BA, and also permits three-year graduates to apply for a Diploma in Honors Standing after a fourth year of study (an option soon to be withdrawn because of a recent university decision). The general program is described as being designed to provide training for students majoring in economics and students majoring in other subjects within the university's general BA program. The department offers the equivalent of twenty full-year general-level (100-level) courses, although not all are available every year. Students in the general program are required to take the equivalent of two full essay courses, one of which must be in their area of concentration. The department has recently introduced new courses at this level to give students greater flexibility.
The honors program, modest in size and with high academic standards, offers specialized training in economics for highly-qualified students. Students can apply to enter the program after either first, second or third year, and may take either a straight honors program in economics or a combined program with a broad range of other subjects, including anthropology, history, philosophy, religion, sociology, and women's studies. Similarly, they can take option programs in science, geography, and mathematics or statistics. All these programs will undergo revision when the new modular structure of undergraduate programs arrives.
The department has taken a number of steps to expand its offerings, especially to create combined programs and new options for its general and honors students. It has also succeeded in maintaining or improving its solid teaching evaluations in its introductory course, and its general and honors programs. Since the early 1990's, several initiatives make the department "more user friendly for undergraduates": enhancement of the Economics Drop-In Centre, improvements in the teaching facilities, the development of an extensive website, the creation of online courses, an annual Open House for undergraduates seeking information about economics, the introduction of exchange programs, and the assignment of faculty advisors to all third- and fourth-year honors students.
In summary, the Department of Economics appears to have put considerable resources and energy into its undergraduate programs. It has made concerted efforts to make its programs more attractive to potential students, while maintaining high academic standards. Despite the financial challenges that it has faced, the Department has maintained or improved its teaching evaluations. Although its honors program is modest in size, it appears to provide students with an intensive program, opportunities to work closely with senior faculty, and excellent preparation for graduate school.
Highlights of the External Reviewers' Reports
The first two external reviewers (Lang and Eichenbaum) provide excellent recommendations for initiatives to improve the department as a whole, focusing almost exclusively on the salary gap of economics professors at UWO and at American universities. The two reports recognize that it is difficult for Western and other Ontario universities to match American salaries, given the present state of funding and the exchange rate. They request more resources and more researchers, calling upon the university to reinvest in order to recreate the first-class department that was present during the 1980's. The third external appraisal (Gallini) focused more on the undergraduate programs, although the report also included calls for pre-emptive salary offers to retain faculty and the statement that the department must be permitted to replace the 3 or 4 recent resignations with appointments at the equivalent quality and rank. The appraisal commented very favourably on the flagship Honors' program as superb preparation for graduate school, and commended the department's 100-level courses for non-economics students. Finally, the department's teaching of its first-year economics course is of consistently high quality.
The appraiser did have some concerns about specific aspects of the undergraduate programs. She noted that over 30% of the courses in the 3-year program were taught by limited contract faculty and suggested the department monitor this situation to ensure that this percentage did not rise; nonetheless the instructors teaching these courses are dedicated, long-serving professionals with a closer affiliation to the department than temporary, part-time instructors. Secondly, one-third of the fourth-year students are from the general program, and the issue of their ill-preparedness for the difficulties of fourth-year courses is difficult to resolve. The pending elimination of the D.H.S. and its replacement with a one-year Honors BA may help. The department may also wish to reassess its role in the Administrative and Commercial Studies program, with a view to expanding it. Finally, there is a lack of centralized information about career planning for both academic and nonacademic jobs, and a need for information sessions. These issues were, however, minor quibbles for the appraiser, who noted that the critical issue is that the department has few faculty in the associate category, with diminishing senior strength over the next few years because of retirements. The profile of full-time faculty in the department remains the most important issue.
Response of the Acting Chair
The department plans to eliminate the D.H.S. in favour of a one-year Honors program with stringent entrance requirements from the three-year BA, thereby making it less possible for students with strong records in the 100-level courses required for that three-year program to obtain entrance. This will, it is hoped, maintain the integrity of the fourth-year courses in the honors program. The department agrees with the external reviewer that reconsideration of the Administrative and Commercial Studies program and the department's role therein is necessary, especially given that the students in this program now account for half the faculty undergraduate registrations. Economics is possibly the largest provider of courses which are part of this program, and a newly-formed subcommittee will reconsider the ramifications of this service role. Also, the department plans to consider changes to its menu of courses, especially with respect to the possibility of developing a 4-year BA as the standard program in the department. This discussion is likely to fold into a discussion of the changes necessary to conform to the new modular system of undergraduate programs. Finally, although the department would like to engage in developing career planning seminars and information materials, it needs to consider the real needs of its students. An Economics degree is not automatically a professional degree, and career planning in the department needs to address the ways in which students need to reconfigure their skills in order to demonstrate the abilities they have to potential employers.
Reflections on the Review Process
The draft review noted that the two external appraisals had not addressed the undergraduate programs, in response to which the faculty and department arranged for a third appraisal. The importance of considering the undergraduate programs has therefore been acknowledged at all levels of the university.
PRC Reviewers: Mr. J. Sutton, Professor R. Solomon (26 March 2001), with additions by Professor M.J. Toswell (12 December 2001).
Department of Geography, Faculty of Social Science
Basis of Review:
Self-Assessment Documentation provided by the department and External Reviewer Report. The self-assessment report provided a comprehensive review of undergraduate and graduate programs of the department. This summary is based on comments of the reviewer on the undergraduate program.
External Reviewer: Dr. Graeme Wynn, University of British Columbia
The Department offers a 3 year general BA with concentration in Geography and a 4 year Honors Program with specialization in Geography, Urban Development or Environmental and Resource Management. A 4 year B.Sc Honors Geography, Environmental and Resource Management or Geography with Computer Science is also offered. Geography can also be combined with other disciplines such as Sociology, Economics, Anthropology, French and History. Joint programs include BA Honors Geography and Spanish, MIT, or Geology. A concurrent degree is also offered with Civil and Environmental Engineering. Some Geography courses are also considered mandatory in other programs, e.g., Administrative and Commercial Studies (Aviation Option). The Faculty Research Interests are focused on 4 areas: Physical Geography, Integrated Resource Management, Geographic Information Systems, and Human Geography. There are 19 full time tenured or tenure track core faculty. In addition, there is one faculty member jointly in Geography and Plant Science, and 4 additional faculty (two are emeritus). Of the 19 core faculty, 4 are full Professors, 1 is an Assistant Professor and 14 are Associate Professors. Among these, there are 15 male and 4 female faculty members.
The external reviewer considered this to be a "solid" department, excellent in its commitments to offer field courses at the undergraduate level. The Chair was doing a commendable job while balancing the demands of colleagues and the changing environment both in research and teaching. In particular the success of securing resources was rated highly by colleagues.
The reviewer felt the following should be a course of action for the department in the future:
1) Develop a clear vision in the areas of undergraduate curriculum, faculty development and hiring strategies.
2) Develop a strategic plan for hiring upto the next decade since 6 members will retire in the next 8 years.
3) More "mentoring" be provided to junior colleagues for the development of their careers.
4) Involve junior and mid career faculty more in "administrative" functions.
5) 5 or 6 Assistant Professors should be hired over the next decade at specific intervals.
6) A clear rationale should be developed for the assignment of teaching loads.
7) More financial resources should be committed to purchase of computer hardware and software, site licenses and for the Sauer library.
8) In general the undergraduate programs are well structured, however, the focus has shifted towards GIS/GISc as opposed to regional, historical and socio-economic areas. Thus strategic thinking is required in terms of the direction and focus for the undergraduate curricula. A clear set of priorities should be developed through departmental meetings and discussions.
9) The department would benefit from having one more administrative staff position.
10) Overall, the reviewer felt that a vision and clear priorities need to be established as quickly as possible since there will be significant changes in faculty due to retirements over the next decade.
Roger H. King, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
The Department of Geography is pleased that the OCGS consultant considers it to be sound in its administration, faculty and in its undergraduate and graduate programs. Most, if not all of the points raised in the consultant's recommended course of action were anticipated and are already being acted upon.
The need for a clear vision for the Department has been recognized for some time. Our vision for the future is to be among the best Geography departments in Canada and, in selected areas of the discipline, a leader. The strength of the undergraduate program is generally recognized to be its breadth. In recent years, however, a strong focus has developed in what has come to be called Geographic Information Science - an integration of Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing, Computer Cartography and Visualization, and Spatial Analysis. In support of this focus, Department continues to strengthen its technical facilities in the form of specialized computer and analytical labs, and has hired new faculty in this area. Unfortunately, such focusing will result in a loss of some of the breadth in our program. However, the Department is committed to concentrating on our strengths and sees this as an inevitable consequence of stringent and targeted funding.
It is clear that the provision and maintenance of state-of-the-art facilities in the Department will require special funding. There is a very obvious need to standardize computer hardware and software. An institutional site license for the more specialized and expensive software will be needed also. The Serge Sauer Map Library continues to be an invaluable and much admired resource, not only for the Department, but also for the larger academic and non-academic community.
The Department is currently working on an Academic Plan that will identify further strengths and promote greater linkage between faculty, both with the Department and with faculty in other departments in the Faculty of Social Science, and with departments in other Faculties. At the same time, the Department plans to focus its activities on the theme of "Monitoring, Modeling and Management of Environmental Change". This theme will build on the existing research strengths in the Department in environmental science linked with environmental management and international development (e.g., Latin America and Africa). Further opportunities have been provided by the recent creation of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction and the joint appointment of Dr. McBean. Obviously related to this exercise will be a strategic plan for faculty hiring to replace the six retirements in the next seven years. It is vital that a critical mass be maintained and the Department is gratified by the consultant's support in this matter.
The Department welcomes recent initiatives at Western aimed at improving mentoring for junior faculty and has been proactive in this area. The special circumstances of faculty holding joint appointments are keenly appreciated. At the same time, junior faculty continue to be protected from heavy administrative loads and are encouraged to take advantage of the Alternative Workload opportunities provided in the Collective Agreement.
Finally, the issue of teaching loads has been addressed by the appropriate clauses in the Collective Agreement and the creation of departmental Workload Committees to oversee this issue.
PRC Reviewer: Prof. A. Bassi, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
Department of Music Performance Studies, Faculty of Music
Basis of Review
Self-Assessment Documentation provided by the department; External Reviewers' Reports.
External Reviewers: Prof. Mary Morrison, University of Toronto; Prof. James Forger, Michigan State University
The departmental self-study was comprised mainly of lists of programs, course descriptions and faculty curricula vitae, with a minimum of descriptive information. It is clear from these data that the department is unusual on campus in having (at the time of the reviews) only 13 full-time faculty, but some thirty-five sessional instructors who do a great deal of the department's teaching. Given the high degree of specialization required in teaching individual instruments and advanced voice techniques, however, this situation is not surprising.
Highlights of the External Reviewers Report:
The reviewers conducted their visits and submitted their reports some six months apart. Prof. Morrison's report is dated April 3, 2000; Prof. Forger's is dated 30 October.
The reviewers noted that the outgoing chair had provided strong leadership, and that there was "creative energy" in the performing ensembles and in most of the instructional programs. Prof. Morrison felt that the extra hours of applied lessons required for honors students (a recital preparation course for 3rd and 4th year students) was "a huge bonus and a rare one." Prof. Forger commented that he thought generally good use was being made of the department's human and physical resources; that the library collection was strong; and that the department's performance and research records were good. Both reviewers commented positively on the unique collaborative programs offered by the department.
In general, the reviewers expressed concern regarding the maintenance of a high-quality undergraduate program in the wake of several recent retirements. Prof. Morrision specifically mentioned her concern that a good cello instructor be appointed, and both reviewers emphasized the need for a permanent conductor for both the orchestra and band. A continuing and perhaps increased emphasis on pedagogy was recommended by both reviewers, presumably because teaching of some sort is eventually required of most performance majors. Prof. Morrison highlighted the need for more opera coaches, while questioning the appropriateness of a popular music course.
Prof. Forger urged the department to clarify its vision as a university department rather than a conservatory. Clearly, in Prof. Forger's view, the difference lies in the breadth of education which should be offered by a university degree, and he felt that more required courses outside the department might bolster this aspect. In a similar vein, he questioned whether the three-year Artist's Diploma really represented a different specialization or just a lower-level degree.
The self-study and the external appraisals both noted the recent increase in enrolment. Although this was seen as an indication of the department's reputation and ability to attract students, it was also recognized that it would put further pressure on the instructional staff in future.
Prof. Forger closed his review by urging that, given the large number of part-time instructors in the department, ways should be found of including these instructors in processes of departmental policy and curriculum planning. Both reviewers urged that the new chair undertake to guide a consideration of the future directions and pedagogical philosophy of the department. This may well have taken place since the writing of the reports.
Response of the Department Chair
I met with the acting chair, Prof. Robert Skelton, on 16 May 2001. He informed me that, after some difficulties and delays in recruiting a new chair, Prof. Fiona Wilkinson is now scheduled to take over that position 1 July 2001. Prof. Skelton responded to the reviewers' comments as follows:
Prof. Skelton acknowledged the difficulty of replacing retirements from full-time positions. As in other departments, this has come about because of chronic underfunding. There are now some forty-one part-time instructors in the department. Despite these problems, however, an outstanding new appointment in Cello instruction was made, as recommended, when Prof. Tom Wiebe joined the department. Another new appointment, Prof. John Hess, will be serving as both an opera coach and a piano teacher. Prof. Wilkinson has plans to work with the Music Education Department to recruit a new conductor for the bands.
Prof. Skelton agreed with Prof. Forger that the department should be careful to maintain a sufficiently broad educational focus to justify its Bachelor's degrees. However, the extra applied instruction praised by Prof. Morrison requires that some other requirements be relaxed, and at present this is accomplished by requiring fewer electives. Several departmental and Faculty electives have been eliminated over the last 10-15 years due to the loss of full-time faculty, and this had exacerbated the situation.
As for the Artist's Diploma program, Prof. Skelton pointed out that the majority of students enrolled in this program had chosen it from the beginning, although he conceded that there were some students who transferred into the Diploma program after finding the academic demands of the Bachelor's program to be more than they could handle. Prof. Skelton feels that the Diploma still represents a sufficiently distinct educational path that it should be preserved.
Increasing enrolments are imposing new demands on the department, but Prof. Skelton felt they were being handled well, and that the number of students in the department provided many rich opportunities for experience in various kinds of ensembles. The current enrolment targets for incoming students are in the 100-120 range, set by the Dean as part of the annual planning process.
Although greater involvement of part-time staff in departmental decision-making was recommended by the reviewers, the fact that many of these staff live outside of London, and that they are already carrying heavier workloads that sessional appointments in some other departments, makes this difficult to accomplish. Prof Skelton felt that, now that the searches for a new Dean of the Faculty, and a new Chair of Music Performance, had been completed, with internal candidates being selected to fill both positions, the department was well-positioned to conduct the kind of review suggested by the external appraisers. He expects Prof. Wilkinson to lead this review shortly after taking office.
Reflections upon the Review Process
The review appears to have been conducted according to accepted standards, although the delay between the two visits meant that the reviewers were visiting in different academic years, and could have resulted in their seeing rather different situations. I enjoyed meeting Prof. Skelton, who was very cooperative, and I found it informative to learn about the operations of another department within the University.
PRC Reviewer: Prof. J. Marshall Mangan, Faculty of Education
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
In addition to a graduate program comprising both MSc and PhD programs, the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology offers a Honors BSc in Pharmacology and Toxicology, Honors BSc in Toxicology with Environmental Sciences, as well as participating in the new Bachelor of Medical Sciences (BMSc) Four Year General Degree.
Summary of Review and Recommendations
The following is based on an appraisal of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology prepared by Dr. D. Templeton, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Toronto, and Dr. H. Robertson, Department of Pharmacology, Dalhousie University. Dr. Michael Cook, Acting Chair of the Department, also offered his reflections on the review.
The reviewers judged the Department's undergraduate programs to be in good health. In fact, they went so far as to pronounce them "truly a strength of the Department" (p. 2). It was noted with respect to Pharmacology that the Department participates in a wide-range of undergraduate teaching, and that it plays a significantly larger role in the recently revised undergraduate medical curriculum than is typically the case in other Canadian universities. The toxicology component of the undergraduate program was also judged to be of good quality.
No major weaknesses in the undergraduate programs were detected by the appraisers. Some concern, however, was expressed over the heavy reliance on cross-appointees and the participation of extra-departmental members. In addition, the reviewers saw a potential problem in the demographics of the Department, noting that owing to a "gap in the middle level faculty members" a significant portion of the teaching burden presently falls to retiring or emeritus professors. When these senior members cease to teach, junior members will be severely taxed to sustain programs, and the quality of the undergraduate programs will be threatened. To help circumvent this threat the appraisers recommend that the Faculty complement should be maintained at 10.
Departmental Response and Subsequent Actions
The Department takes considerable satisfaction in the positive assessment of its programs offered by the reviewers. Dr. Cook, however, accepts that the current reliance on part-time and emeritus faculty is a source of concern, but it would be addressed over time. He notes that the reviewers' suggestion for a Faculty complement of 10 would deal effectively with the issue.
Reflections on the Review Process
The review of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology seems to reflect the current guidelines. Drs Templeton and Robertson have provided a clear and judicious assessment of the Department and its programs. That the undergraduate programs have been judged to be of high quality is a clear tribute to the Department.
PRC Reviewer: C.G. Brown, Department of Classical Studies
Update on the University's Undergraduate Program Review Processes
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 was completed in 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 rigour and thoroughness of undergraduate program review at Western.