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Accountability: Review and Evaluation

The most unique feature of the Framework and one of its greatest strengths is the review process. The reviews are comprehensive and participatory and feature the unique public accountability of final materials being posted on the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity Web site. 34 Each strategic planning unit submits a diversity strategic plan based on the Framework and its own planning goals to Educational Equity at the beginning of the planning period. These plans are reviewed concurrently with the final update reports from the previous planning period. Progress updates are then submitted by each planning unit at the midpoint and end of each planning cycle. A specific set of assessment questions regarding unit-level implementation guide the updates. Unit diversity strategic plans and updates are evaluated by review teams that represent broad constituencies across the University.35 The review teams make candid and thorough evaluations, ranging from specific observations and suggestions to the identification of broad themes of progress, ongoing challenges, and opportunities for improvement. Review team feedback reports are provided to both the provost and the vice provost for Educational Equity, who then meet with each unit executive for discussion. The units have an opportunity to make a written response to the feedback reports following the meeting.

Highest emphasis is placed on the integrity of the process and the results. Each team is staffed by a representative from Educational Equity to coordinate consistency of the procedures, approach, and tone across all the teams and from one review to the next. The review proceedings remain confidential until final materials are posted on the Educational Equity Web site. The Web site maintains a comprehensive repository of unit diversity strategic plans, updates, and feedback reports from each Framework cycle.

Best Practices

Each review includes identification of best practices, defined as "processes, programs, and procedures that most successfully lead to the unit's ability to reach the University's diversity goals and can be validated through measurable outcomes." The best practices documentation includes both an executive summary and the complete list of identified practices, arranged by the seven Framework Challenges.

Analysis of the potential best practices identified at the 2007 midpoint review reveals several themes that are critical to success:

  • purposeful, integrated approaches across units, particularly colleges, and coordination of central and department level efforts
  • collaborative, participatory approaches within the unit, across the University, and with applicable external resources
  • broad and inclusive communications strategies using multiple communication formats and cutting-edge technologies
  • alignment between diversity planning and general strategic planning
  • identification of effective measures of success and use of assessment to gauge progress
  • most importantly, active leadership from the unit's administration More information on these themes, as well as the complete list of best practices identified in each review is available at the Best Practices website.

Best Practices Workshops

Clearly, sustaining momentum throughout the planning cycle is important. In an effort to keep diversity planning efforts in the forefront during nonreview years and to foster dialogue across units, a series of Best Practices in Diversity Strategic Planning workshops have been presented. Aimed at budget executives and representatives from their staff who are involved in diversity planning, implementation, and reporting, the workshops include plenary and breakout sessions covering specific Challenges and foster dialogue about effective approaches. Keynote speakers and breakout session panelists highlight our progress and facilitate sharing best practices across units. Post-workshop questionnaires and other feedback indicate that these workshops have been very positively received. Notes and materials from each of the workshops are available at the Workshops website.


Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity
314 Old Main,
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 865-5906, Fax: (814) 865-3997