Many of us periodically receive “reviews”. These are assessments of our performance, discussions of our objectives and diagnoses of how we might perform better. Indeed, in addition to job reviews, our spouses, children, parents, friends and colleagues often feel called to offer us counsel as to how we might be better people. While reviews are not always comfortable experiences, when done thoughtfully and well, they provide an individual, or an organization, the opportunity to reflect on their goals and think how to best reach those goals.
Reviews are an important part of the University. Faculty are reviewed annually, courses are evaluated each semester, various institutional and programs accreditation agencies do periodic reviews and deans are reviewed by the faculty and the Provost of the University. The School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences recently received a review of its programs. This review, mandated by the University to occur every five years, was performed by a team of distinguished faculty and administrators from other universities as well as from within UTD.
In preparation for our review the School faculty conducted a “self-study”. We collected data on all aspects of our programs: student training, research and community outreach. We had small group meetings with students and faculty to assess how well we are performing our mission and to think about changes and goals for the next interval.
The Review Team carefully studied our document and then spent 2 ½ days gathering their own assessments through interviews with students, faculty and university administrators. They asked us pointed questions about certain practices and pressed us about our goals for the future. They then provided us with a detailed report outlining strengths and weaknesses and suggestions regarding their view of opportunities for future development.
I am pleased to report to you that, while they made numerous helpful suggestions as to how we could improve our programs, their evaluation of the School was complimentary. The committee prefaced their report by saying, “To preview our overall findings, the review committees overall assessment is extremely positive. This is a distinctive, non-traditional school that serves an important mission, that is functioning quite well and merits future investments.” So, we are pleased, and relieved. We take seriously the committee’s recommendations for improvement, and we see an exciting path for future development, as well as being “better persons”.