University Committee on Academic Review

Message to USC Faculty

From: Charles F. Zukoski, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

The University Committee on Academic Review (UCAR) oversees our extensive Academic Program Review (APR) process at USC. Since the launch of APR in 1999, UCAR has completed three cycles of program review of all Ph.D. programs across the university, recently extending its oversight to include the review of master’s and undergraduate programs. These ongoing, high-quality peer reviews of all degree programs promote academic excellence and provide guidance for continued improvement.

I want to thank the members of the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 UCAR: Chair Ruth Wood (Keck School of Medicine), Kenneth Ahern (Marshall School of Business), Will Berelson (Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences), Christian Robert Grose (Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences), Malancha Gupta (Viterbi School of Engineering), GJ Halfond (Viterbi School of Engineering), Aniko Imre (School of Cinematic Arts), Natania Meeker (Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences), Chris Sampson (Thornton School of Music), Julie Zissimopoulos (Sol Price School of Public Policy), ex-officio Andrew Stott, vice provost for academic programs and dean of the Graduate School, and ex-officio Elizabeth Graddy, executive vice provost. This dedicated group of faculty has played a critical role in our university’s commitment to academic excellence.

This past summer, my office, in consultation with the UCAR committee chair, carefully evaluated the APR process and determined that changes to the scope of the review can expand its impact. Although the granular focus of each individual program review is valuable, we believe that academic units would benefit from a broader picture of the academic unit as a whole. As we seek input of the external review committee comprised of prominent faculty from leading institutions, increasing the breadth of a review to include all degree programs of an academic unit—when it makes sense for the structure and priorities of the school—presents a rare opportunity to examine the relationships across programs. We hope that this new approach will also help identify wide-ranging school or university issues that may pose as obstacles for academic excellence, which will better inform strategic planning.

Beginning in Fall 2022, we will implement this new format of combined reviews, adhering to the current 10-year review cycle. We recognize that the combined review model may not fit the structure of some schools, so we will work with each dean’s office to design a meaningful assessment. This semester, we will reach out to your dean’s office to coordinate a schedule for each unit’s review. We expect that the school leadership will work with departmental leadership to determine a mutually convenient schedule for reviews.

I am pleased that Professor Ruth Wood has agreed to continue to serve as chair of UCAR in 2021-2022. In preparation for the shift in the process, UCAR will be restructured and expanded to reflect four discipline-based panels in: Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences; Life and Natural Sciences; and Health and Medicine.

I am confident these adjustments to the UCAR process will support our academic units in their ongoing work to ensure that the university provides a world-class education for our students. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Executive Vice Provost Elizabeth Graddy at

cc: Office of the President
Academic Deans
President’s Senior Leadership Team
Provost’s Leadership Team
Academic Senate
Elizabeth Graddy
Andrew McConnell Stott
Ruth Wood