Using Assessment in Unit-level Planning and Budgeting, Annual Planning, and Benchmarking, Selected Schools

The self-study Working Group on Using Assessment to Improve Institutional Effectiveness (WGIE) studied the past and present planning, budgeting, and benchmarking processes at both the University level and the unit or responsibility center level (for a list of responsibilitycenters, see Appendix A of the PBS document). WGIE also conducted a detailed review of processes in place at the University level and within a representative sampling of units that reflect a diversity of missions, disciplines, and organizational structures.

WGIE said that its review of the University’s Planning and Budgeting System, annual planning processes, and benchmarking activities revealed a culture of assessment that has grown in strength over time. The assessment processes embedded in planning and budgeting have themselves been assessed and adapted in response to identified issues and opportunities. The four units included in the in-depth examination—the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, School of Social Work, School of Nursing, and University of Pittsburgh at Bradford—represent a cross-section of the University in terms of size, mission, and structure, yet all four are illustrative of how data are collected and used to make decisions and further the goals of the unit and the University as a whole. While only four units are presented in depth, other schools and units of the University also have very strong planning documents, as evidenced by information in the appendices to this section and in the document room.

WGIE chose the Dietrich School due to its size, complexity, and important role as the liberal arts core of the University. The Dietrich School dominates the other schools in terms of enrollment and number of degree programs offered. According to the 2011 University of Pittsburgh Fact Book, 12,484 (43 percent) of the 28,823 students on the Pittsburgh campus were enrolled in the Dietrich School. Similarly, 142 (32 percent) of the 444 degree programs at the University of Pittsburgh (all schools and all campuses) are offered by the Dietrich School. WGIE selected the School of Social Work and the School of Nursing as examples of graduateand professional schools. They are midsized schools in terms of enrollment (721 and 1,120, respectively) and offer degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. The School of Social Work is a Provost-area school, while the School of Nursing is a health sciences school. WGIE included Pitt–Bradford as an example of a regional campus. With its enrollment of 1,629 students, Pitt–Bradford is neither the largest regional campus (Johnstown is, with 2,965 students) nor the smallest (Titusville is, with 514 students). Pitt–Bradford offers both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. (See Appendix B2 for more detailed profiles about the four units.)

The WGIE report is based on a review of planning, budgeting, benchmarking, and other relevant documents compiled from fiscal year 2000 through fiscal year 2011. WGIE also drew upon the responses of selected administrators and faculty who have been involved in planning and assessment (see the WGIE report for more details). The balance of the material throughout this chapter is taken from the WGIE report.