Preparing for the External Visitor

Guidelines and Suggestions for the Visit

Once a formal invitation has been sent to the reviewer from the VP Undergraduate Education, the School Director/Department Chair is responsible for organizing the logistics of the entire visit, in consultation with the reviewer.


If not included in the self-study, the Chair should make easily available:

  • Department and College annual budget summaries;
  • Department recruitment brochures, other key publications, advisement materials and annual reports if available;
  • Other materials requested by the reviewer after reading the self-study.


  1. Be sure the reviewer has the self-study and as many ancillary materials as possible three weeks prior to the visit.
  2. Arrange the entrance and exit interviews with appropriate administrative offices and the Program Planning Committee liaison, as noted below. Be sure the administrators have a copy of the reviewer's schedule while on campus.


It is courteous to give the reviewer a printed copy of the schedule at the outset, with names and titles/responsibilities of persons included.

1. Entrance Interview

Very early, normally first on the schedule after the reviewer has been "greeted," the reviewer should have a 45-50 minute meeting to hear the university and administrative perspective from, and to ask questions of, the College Dean, the VP Undergraduate Education, the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies (if the program offers a graduate degree)and the Director of Institutional Effectiveness & Analytics. This is normally a single meeting that includes all four administrators, with no department representatives present during the meeting. This meeting should be arranged by the department Chair via the offices noted. The visit should not be scheduled unless at least three of these four administrators can be present. If an exception is required please contact VP Anagnos.

2. Assure that someone is present to escort the reviewer to and from meetings.

3. The Schedule should include formal visits as follows:

  • Department Chair - who should make very clear what the department hopes to gain from the review, what the key issues are, and what issues might lay behind the self-study materials and conclusions.
  • Facilities inspection - this is often combined with the visit with the Chair, and may be quite extensive depending upon the complexity of the department's lab/studio/clinic structures. Allow time.
  • Visits to any other facilities of interest to the reviewer, e.g., library. Ask in advance what is desired so that the schedule can include such visits.
  • Program regular faculty; there are normally a series of these visits, arranged to meet the program structure requirements.
  • Program temporary faculty (if significant in the department).
  • Undergraduate students, minimum 30 minutes (publicize).
  • Graduate students, minimum 30 minutes (publicize).
  • Recent graduates (often this is effective at a reception or dinner for the reviewer, a more relaxed environment).
  • Department support staff, typically 30 minutes
  • Ask the College Dean if s/he wants a private meeting in addition to the entrance meeting; if so, arrange. Most do not.

4. Lunches and Dinners, which are arranged by and are the responsibility of the program, are an excellent opportunity for key department faculty to discuss issues informally and/or for graduates to have their say.

5. Do not keep the reviewer out late in the evening; these are tiring days as reviewers try to figure out the important variables at issue, what to say about those variables, and what questions to pursue in the second day, as they try to do their best for SJSU.

6. Give the reviewer a full hour break and a quiet place to work prior to the exit interview. An organized exit interview makes everyone feel better than an unstructured Q&A session.

7. The Exit Interview, to be arranged by the Chair, should include (essential participants marked with an *)

  • As many department faculty members as possible
  • The Provost or Senior Vice Provost*
  • The College Dean*
  • The Chair/Director, and as many Department faculty as possible (there have been a few exits attended only by the Chair and one or two faculty; this misses a great opportunity for important dialogue).*
  • At the option of the faculty, support staff or representatives thereof
  • The VP Undergraduate Education*
  • The Dean of the College of Graduate Studies (if applicable)*
  • The liaison faculty member from the Program Planning Committee*
  • The Chair of the Program Planning Committee (if available)
  • The Director of Assessment (if available)

The reviewer will be given the option of making a somewhat formal statement, to be followed by Q&A, or to permit Q&A and comments on an ongoing basis. The exit should be arranged for a little less than an hour, and should be recorded for those faculty who cannot attend. Normally the AVP Graduate and Undergraduate Programs will end the interview with thanks on behalf of the university, or will delegate this task.


Historically the honorarium has been paid upon receipt of the report, typically three weeks after the visit.