University of Vermont

Administrative Unit Review

Components of Administrative Unit Review

Appendix A

Identification of Issues

The initial step of the program review process is the identification of current and emerging issues over the next 3-5 years that have the potential to have a significant impact on the unit and with which the unit must contend in order to improve. At the time a unit is notified that it is due for its review, it will be given a date for submission of the issues statement. Units may use a variety of mechanisms for generating the list of issues; however, the list of issues should be shared with all members of the unit prior to submission to ensure that it represents the perspectives of the entire unit (if there are areas where perspectives are mixed, these should be noted). The list of issues should be brief and should provide a short description of each issue. This analysis should generate an initial set of core issues. Units should also examine internal changes or significant pressures from the external environment that are affecting the unit's operations and mission.

Once the list of issues has been submitted, the Vice President for Executive Operations will distribute the issues statement to the vice president/provost and the University’s senior leadership for review. These individuals will provide feedback on these issues and may add additional issues to this list. The unit may be asked to modify the list based on feedback from this group. It is important to bear in mind that the list of issues generated by the unit should correspond with the unit’s strategic plan. Administrative Unit Program Review assumes that units have a strategic plan in place (for which program review provides an opportunity to review and update the plan). Or, if units do not have a strategic plan, program review serves as a mechanism for developing one, using the list of issues generated as the basis for the plan. Some questions that units could ask to initiate this examination are listed below.

A. Mission and Strategic Position


The mission statement should clearly describe the unit’s purpose, and should establish the foundation upon which the unit’s strategic plan is built. It should guide a unit in its thematic focus (primary areas of effort) and in the types of programs/activities it conducts. The mission should neither be so broad as to permit the unit to pursue virtually any type of activity, nor so narrow as to restrict its ability to adapt. Unit activities should be understandable in the context of its mission.

  • What is the unit’s mission? What functions does the unit perform to carry out this mission? How has this changed? What are the current trends in the unit’s service area nationwide? How have marketplace forces affected the unit's operations? How has the unit addressed multi-cultural and diversity issues?
  • What are the unit’s strengths? Weaknesses? Have these changed in recent years? How do these areas correspond to where the unit would like to be?
  • How does the unit compare to equivalent units in peer institutions? What are the comparative measures used to assess performance?
  • What are the key relationships for this unit to other units within the University and outside the University?
  • What efforts are made to ensure inclusivity for its programs and services?

B. Services

  • Does the unit have defined performance goals or targets? How does the unit determine whether it is achieving these? What specific performance measures does the unit use to assess its performance on an ongoing basis?
  • What improvements have been made in the delivery of services from the unit to its constituencies?
  • Has the unit implemented any innovative or state-of-the-art approaches to improve its effectiveness and efficiency?
  • How does the unit assess its users’ needs on an ongoing basis? How flexible is the unit in responding to those needs? How does the unit assess user satisfaction with the unit’s performance?
  • Are any new services being planned by the unit based upon users’ current or anticipated needs? How will these change current unit operations? Is there overlap or duplication of services with other units of the University? How could this be reduced, if appropriate?

C. Staff

  • What efforts have been made to make the unit more diverse with regard to race, ethnicity, gender, etc.? At what levels in the organization has such hiring occurred? What has been the pattern of retention overall, and by ethnicity and gender?
  • How have changes in service delivery affected the skills required by staff? How are staff being trained, retrained, and developed to meet these needs?

D. Organizational Structure

  • How does the unit organize its operations and functions? How has this changed?
  • Have any significant staffing or organizational changes taken place? How have they affected the unit?
  • Have there been any changes in leadership? How have these changes affected the unit's operations? Its morale? Its service orientation?

E. Unit Support/Financial

  • How has technology been integrated into the service and administrative functions of the unit? How successful have these efforts been? How has the unit developed hardware, software, and training support? How has the unit addressed security and obsolescence issues?
  • How well does the unit’s current space meet its needs? What reallocation or renovation could be done to accomplish the unit’s goals? What are the unit’s long-term space needs?
  • How does the unit perform financially?

The questions presented above are only examples of the areas that units may explore. Fundamental to the process of issues identification is that the unit itself knows best what challenges confront it.


Last modified January 16 2015 08:47 AM