Date: August 19, 2009 To: Tracy Pellett Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Studies From: Kirk Johnson Interim Dean, College of the Sciences Subject: 2008-2009 Program Review, Law and Justice Department You have asked me to provide commendations and recommendations as part of the program review process for the Law and Justice Department. These observations consider the self- study, the external evaluator’s report, as well as on the context and resource issues with the college. The department prepared a self-study and hosted the campus visit of the external reviewer. Dr. Phyllis B. Gerstenfeld provided a focused set of recommendations in her report. My commendations and recommendations reflect some of the same points she addressed. The department’s strengths are instructional performance, diversity within both student and faculty ranks, an increasingly sound assessment program, faculty and student service to the community, and growth in faculty scholarship. The challenges the department faces includes high advising loads for some faculty members, a need for enhanced communication within the department, continued efforts in curriculum planning and integrity, and possibly stabilization of enrollment. COMMENDATIONS: Law and Justice Science faculty members have embraced a department culture that is student-centered. The engagement of students in the discipline is one of its major strengths. The value department members place on instructional performance and student/faculty interaction is evident in the consistently high performance in SEOI scores, an active student organization, student survey results for the department, and in the quality of internships secured by many of its students. The department is making progress in the development of a collegial and collaborative working environment. With the assistance of the college the department has initiated at least one face-to-face department meeting per quarter. The increased interaction and collegiality has improved department decision making processes and collaboration on curricular reform. It warrants mentioning that the past schism within the department cited by the external reviewer did not appear obvious to students, nor did it have a negative impact on their learning experiences. Department philosophy and practice reflects the teacher/scholar model. The department’s SEOI scores attest to the quality of instruction provided by the department, and the faculty are actively engaged in scholarship as evidenced by the department’s overall rate of publications and conference presentations. Similarly, the majority of faculty evidence high rate of undergraduate student research supervision and cooperative field placement sponsorship. The department has made great strides toward the implementation of a credible programmatic assessment plan and is beginning to consider assessment results in curricular planning. Law and Justice faculty members and students support and participate in a broad array of service activities in the community and in university governance. Its faculty members are to be commended for the active role they have taken in social and legal rights programs. RECOMMENDATIONS: Undergraduate Curriculum Planning: Both the external reviewer’s findings and the self-study document suggest attention is needed in the areas of advisement and curricular planning. At a minimum that the department should strive to equalize advising loads among the faculty and to provide students with an inventory of cooperative learning placement opportunities. The department should also consider instituting a long-term plan for course offerings. This would require the development of a consistent cycle for all courses (on the main campus in Ellensburg as well as at each center). Information regarding whether a class is offered each quarter, only once a year, or only on an every other year basis ought to be readily available to students. If students are able to predict the year and quarter a class is most likely to be offered it would ease the burden of advisement, thereby making the work lives of all faculty members somewhat less stressful. Integrity of Program: The curricular reforms instituted this year should further reduce the number of course substitutions which plagued the department in the past. Widespread substitution of requirements called into question the validity or necessity of core courses associated with the specializations. A similar review of the practice of waiving course entrance requirements during summer session should be undertaken. This practice raises serious integrity concerns for the department. If course prerequisites and entrance requirements are considered essential to admitting students into courses during the academic year they should similarly be essential during the summer session. Standards should be constants. They shouldn’t vary as a matter of convenience in order to increase department revenues and individual incomes. Recruitment and Public Relations: Update the department webpage to include the current degree program and sections emphasizing student research and cooperative field placement opportunities and successes. The latter might be incorporated into a student handbook together with suggested courses for students with specific career goals (as noted by the external reviewer). I concur with the reviewer’s comments on enrollment declines these aren’t necessarily negative. The department was clearly overburdened in the past and it may be that the department is finding its point of equilibrium between student demand and its resource base. Increased competition from other programs also means that students who may have majored in Law and Justice in the past because it was the only option they had are now enrolled in a program that better suits their career and personal needs. Again not necessarily a bad thing because remaining students are more dedicated to the program’s goals and objectives. That said, clearly the university’s more robust advertising campaign has not benefited the department. It would seem that the best strategy for enhancing the visibility of the center programs is for the department to reach out to community college students, faculty and advisors (and possibly employers) to explain the value of the degree program. SUMMARY: In summary, the Law and Justice Department has a strong student-centered identity with a well defined disciplinary focus when it comes to its undergraduate mission. The department faculty maintains a strong record of instructional performance and scholarship. However, there is work to be done when it comes to curricular planning and integrity.