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Academic Prioritization & Program Planning and Review

Academic Prioritization

Academic Prioritization is the process of a strategic, simultaneous examination of all academic programs offered at Shepherd University. This is the important distinction between Program Review and Academic Prioritization. In Program Review, there is no strong driver for change as you are evaluating programs once every five years. In Academic Prioritization, all programs are examined simultaneously specific criteria for each program, weighing them against the university’s limited resources.

In 2022-2023, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) gathered representatives from each institution of higher education in the State of West Virginia to develop a revised Program Review process, requiring institutions to report on the status of their programs on an annual basis. The new review process encourages universities to analyze their programs more frequently and creates more opportunities for timely adaptation according to resource allocation and trends.

After careful examination of the preliminary data, distribution of reports to academic units and requests for responses, and many discussions with faculty, chairs/directors, and deans, the Office of the Provost is prepared to inform the University of the results of the feedback and recommendations to be made to the President and Board of Governors.

The full Academic Affairs report and recommendations may be found here:  Academic Prioritization: Academic Affairs Recommendations – Revised October 22, 2023.

A summary of the recommendation may be found here: Academic Prioritization Program reduction and/or consolidation summary  – Revised October 31, 2023.

Academic Planning Process

Planning for new academic programs is integrated into the institutional strategic planning process, as well as that for Academic Affairs.  Click on the hyperlinks for the Academic Affairs Strategic Plan and  for the University Strategic Plan.

As Departments and or other units explore the possibility of adding new degree programs that increase the degree inventory of the university and of the state, they should work with their respective unit head, dean, and Provost, who will provide information to the President and Executive Staff.  This also includes the curricular approval process with the Curricular and Instruction Committee (C & I-undergraduate only), EPPC (education programs) and Graduate Council.

SU Academic Planning Process and Sample Document

This PDF file is also available as a WORD file from the Academic Affairs Office.


Due to the current sanctions from the Department of Education on institutions of higher education in West Virginia, the approval of new programs will be under the Program Participation Approval guidelines, which include the additional step of submission to the Federal Department of Education.  For additional questions, please contact Dr. Jason Best.

Program Review

Shepherd University ensures that the quality of its academic programs, its faculty, and curricula through regular assessment in cyclical program reviews. These reviews occur both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Information regarding the cycle and guidelines are found in Appendix G of the faculty handbook.

The Shepherd University Program Review Committee (SUPRC), under the leadership of Assistant Provost Dr. Jason Best, has implemented an evaluation procedure and established criteria for on-campus program reviews consistent with policy. Crucial components of the review are the unit self-study, which must state accomplishments achieved since the last review, and an external reviewer who evaluates the self-study and completes a site visit. Involving external experts in the field ensures continuous improvement. Changes made as a result of the program review process are an important component in closing the loop on assessment as it relates to the mission and strategic priorities of the University. The review of academic programs is listed as a power and duty of the BoG, by legislative policy. Committee findings and recommendations are reported to the board during its April meeting. Summaries detailing results and recommendations of these reviews are as a final step sent to the WV-HEPC.

We hope you will find these resources helpful as we all work together to develop new program and assess the vitality of current offerings, all in support of Shepherd’s mission as a West Virginia public liberal arts university, diverse community of learners and a gateway to the world of opportunities and ideas.