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Academic Unit Review

Title: Academic Unit Review Policy
Effective Date: September 14, 2023
Responsible Office: Institutional Accreditation & Effectiveness
Last Updated: First Version

I. Scope

This policy applies to all units within William & Mary in which one or more academic degree and/or certificate programs is located.

All degree and certificate programs that do not hold a current specialized/programmatic accreditation are subject to this policy.  Degree and certificate programs that have been accredited by a specialized or programmatic accreditor are exempted from the academic unit review requirements of this policy, provided the review process for that specialized accreditation includes a review of student learning expectations. In cases where it is the academic unit itself that is accredited in a manner such that the accreditation applies to all programs within the academic unit, then all programs within that accredited academic unit are exempt from the academic unit review requirements of this policy.

II. Purpose and Policy Statement

The purpose of this policy is to detail (1) university-level oversight of, and (2) academic-unit obligations relating to, the review of programs at the university.

III. Definitions

For purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply. These definitions do not necessarily represent how the terms would be defined or used elsewhere.

  •  Academic unit: A department or similar structure (such as centers and institutes that house academic offerings) that includes all faculty and programs contained within the structure.
  •  Program: A subset of an academic unit which offers instruction and degrees/certificates within a discipline or field.
  •  Academic unit review (AUR): A process in which an academic unit’s faculty and administrative leaders undertake a comprehensive self-study of the unit (to include all programs as well as academic offerings not contained within a degree/certificate program) that serves as the basis for self-assessment to identify future priorities, opportunities, and strategies for achieving academic excellence.
IV. Policy

A. Academic Unit Review

  1. Each academic unit at W&M shall undergo AUR at least once every ten years.

  2. Each AUR must constitute a thorough review and evaluation of the academic unit.

  3. Each AUR must include an on-site external review component; see the requirements outlined in Section IV.B of this policy.

  4. AUR must include the preparation of a self-study report, which shall be provided to the external review team, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of Institutional Accreditation and Effectiveness (IAE). 

    a. Dean's offices must ensure that the university's accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is represented exactly as described in the procedures below and should contact the Assistant Provost for IAE with any questions.

  5. A completed AUR must include the following all of which shall be treated as public documents:
  • The self-study report;
  • The report of the external review team;
  • The academic unit’s response to (b); and
  • The Dean's response to (b).
      6.  Deans’ offices shall provide to the Office of the Provost and the Office of IAE all documents listed in (5) above.

B. External Review Component of AUR

  • The external review must be conducted by a team that includes faculty members from peer or aspirational academic units/programs at other universities, as well as a faculty member from a different academic unit (i.e., not the academic unit undergoing AUR) at William & Mary.  The dean's office must work with the Vice Provost of Academic Affairs (VPAA) in the identification and selection of individuals to serve on the external review team. 

  • The self-study report prepared as part of AUR must be provided to the external review team.

  •  Deans’ offices shall provide to the Office of the Provost and the Office of IAE sufficient opportunity to review and provide feedback on drafts of the self-study report and relevant materials prior to their submission to an external review team or external entity. 

  • On-Site Review Visit
    •  The external review component must include an on-site visit to the academic unit. At the discretion of the VPAA, virtual visits may replace the need for an on-campus visit.  Requests for virtual visits must be directed from the dean to the  VPAA.  
    • Dean's offices shall communicate regularly with the Office of the Provost and IAE during preparations for on-campus and virtual visits of the review team.  Dean's offices shall include these offices in exit conferences  and, as needed or requested by either office, other meetings during the visit.  
V. Procedure

A. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges requires the following language to be used when representing the University's accreditation with SACSCOC:

“The College of William & Mary in Virginia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award baccalaureate, master’s, educational specialist, and doctoral degrees.  William & Mary also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of William & Mary may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (”

B. Contact Assistant Provost for Institutional Accreditation & Effectiveness with questions about the university’s accreditation or about SACSCOC.
VI. Enforcement; Complaints, Grievances, or Appeals

Deans must ensure that their academic units and programs remain in compliance with this policy.

VII. Authority and Amendment, Implementation

This policy is approved by the Provost in accordance with Article X Section C of the Bylaws of the Board of Visitors and the Policy on Creating Whole University Policies & Procedures.

VII. Related Documents