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As you plan your year as academic unit head, there is a lot of university and academic unit-level planning and reporting to keep in mind. Here are some of the key tasks and resources you'll be responsible for:


JMU Strategic Plan

JMU's bold strategic plan included the articulation of a new Vision Statement:

To be the national model for the engaged university: engaged with ideas and the world

The full text of the 2020-2026 JMU Strategic Plan is online.

The strategic plan is important to your work as an Academic Unit Head because you will refer to (and link to) the core qualities and goals in creating your annual unit objectives, writing the unit annual report, and requesting budget initiatives. The 11 Core Qualities (and their attendant Goals) can be accessed at:


University Planning: The Strategic Accountability and Reporting Tool (STAR)

You will utilize the STAR Tool to enter annual objectives, updates and to create your unit annual report. In order to gain access and training for the STAR Tool, contact Tina Grace in the Office of Institutional Research at 8-6830 or

Tina is a phenomenal resource for understanding and using the STAR Tool. There is also a JMU-STAR Tool Help manual for your reference as well. A PDF of the manual can be accessed online.

The following additional references can be found in here:

  • JMU STAR End of Year Tasks
  • The Planning and Reporting Cycle
  • How to Add an Objective

Academic Program Reviews (APR)

James Madison University firmly believes that periodic, structured reviews are necessary for thoughtful reflection on program outcomes and for external consultation on key program issues. To that end, JMU schedules academic unit APRs to take place approximately every eight years, with an Interim Report submitted at the mid-point between formal reviews.

All the information you need on APRs can be found on the Academic Affairs website, under Faculty Resources, or directly from this link.

A PDF of the APR Schedule can be found at that link.

Because the APR process is an involved and yearlong process, you should consult the schedule and note the dates of your unit’s next APR and Interim Report.

Your role in the APR process as an Academic Unit Head is an important and multi-faceted one. The AUH:

  • Names the chairperson and members of the APR Internal Self-Study Committee.
  • Nominates, in consultation with the dean and program faculty, the External Consultants.
  • Initiates first contact with External Consultant nominees after final approval to determine their availability.
  • Coordinates the preparation of the Internal Self-Study Report (approximately a three-month process).
  • Submits the Internal Self-Study Report (ISSR) to the Provost via the dean. The ISSR is due to the Provost April 15 for a fall on-site visit; November 15 for a spring on- site visit.
  • Determines the on-site visit date with the APR Coordinator.
  • Develops the on-site visit itinerary in consultation with the APR Coordinator and the Executive Secretary in the Office of the Provost.
  • Invites faculty, staff and students to the on-site interviews.
  • Confirms on-site itinerary with APR Coordinator and Executive Secretary in the Office of the Provost at least two weeks before the on-site visit.
  • Develops, with the dean and program faculty, a formal plan that describes the implementation of the APR recommendations.
  • Incorporates the plan into the JMU-STAR Tool.
  • Communicates progress regarding these recommendations to the dean as part of the annual report.
  • Prepares and submits the Four-Year Interim Report as a stand-alone report with the annual report.

The APR page on the AA website provides:

  • An overview of the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in the APR process
  • An idea of the offices and people involved in the APR, as well as the scope and purpose of their roles
  • An overview of the APR process for degree granting and other academic areas
  • APR guidelines and instructions. The outline for the self-study narrative is on pages 20-24 of the APR Instructions in both pdf and Word formats.

If you have questions about the APR Process, contact Kathryn Brown at

Note that the APR Process is not meant to be viewed in a vacuum but is designed to work in concert with the Unit Annual Report, the Unit Strategic Objectives, and other unit and college reporting processes, as well as the student outcomes and Assessment Progress Template reports (APT). Ultimately the goal of the APR is to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the academic unit by identifying the successes and the challenges that it faces.


The mission of the Center for Assessment and Research Studies (CARS) at James Madison University is to provide quality assessment service to the university, to provide applied graduate training in both assessment and measurement, to increase the use of innovative technology in assessment practice, to increase the rigor of measurement and statistical techniques used in assessment practice, and to produce quality scholarship in assessment and measurement. More information can be found at

Assessment is an annual activity for academic units. Your unit should have an assessment committee (either stand alone or embedded within another committee, such as an undergraduate or graduate committee). Each year, Academic Units assess their student learning outcomes (SLOs) through the publication of their Assessment Progress Template reports (APT).

You will have someone in your department who has been preparing these reports, usually the chair of the Assessment Committee or a program coordinator (such as an Undergraduate/Graduate coordinator). These reports are due on or before June 1 each year, and you will be asked to approve the reports. You will also be asked to append these reports to your Unit Annual Report (that you input to the STAR system). For more information about the APTs, and for examples of APTs and other resources, see the following link:

Each unit also has an Assessment Liaison within CARS through its Program Assessment Support Service (PASS). The PASS mission is to “ensure JMU academic programs have high quality student learning outcomes assessment processes through assessment consulting services, the provision of assessment resources, and the dissemination and promotion of quality assessment practice.”

What can PASS do for you?

  • Help you create an assessment plan for your program
  • Advise you on assessment design considerations, including how you can collect the highest-quality data
  • Work with you to write student-centered learning objectives
  • Analyze your assessment data for you
  • Consult on data analysis techniques
  • Build an online assessment instrument for you
  • Write an assessment report for your program that meets your stakeholders' needs
  • Conduct workshops for your program or team on topics including item writing, the assessment process, and rubric development

And much more!

PASS Liaisons

Each academimc unit has a PASS liaison. To contact yours, call 8-7962 or email

Assessment Day

Each spring semester, a Tuesday in early February is designated as Assessment Day. On that day, classes are cancelled from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. You’ll want to make a note on your spring syllabi (and instruct your faculty to do the same); this date is always noted on the Academic Calendar. A variety of assessments take place on Assessment Day. Academic Units can use this time to conduct assessments with their students as well. For more information, call CARS at 568-6706 or refer to their A Day FAQ

Class Scheduling

As the AUH, you will either be creating the class schedule (alone or with the help of faculty coordinators in your department) or approving the course schedule, so you’ll want to be aware of the policies that guide this process.

Class Scheduling Policy

The goal of this policy is to guide the assignment of course meeting times in a way that (1) meets the needs of JMU students and faculty and (2) makes efficient and effective use of classroom space and instructional hours. There is a scheduling grid and “guiding principles” for using the grid that must be followed; the grid can be accessed at the following link:

The guiding principles for applying the grid are listed below, as well as the contact person for each college, should you have questions.

Guiding Principles

The Office of the Registrar will review the schedule of classes for conformity to the following guiding principles each semester. Nonconformity will be reported to the college dean/associate dean and the Office of the Provost.

  • All classes, regardless of length, must begin OR end at official standard class meeting times listed for the meeting pattern of the class.
  • All classes with start times from 8:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. on MWF and from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on TT must adhere to the standard schedule. Upon request, flexibility may be given after 2:15 p.m. to units that have already achieved utilization objectives (see the Class Scheduling Policy noted above).
  • Academic units may schedule up to 50% of their classes during prime time (MWF 10:10 a.m. - 2:15 p.m.; TT 9:30 a.m. - 1:45 p.m.).
  • Academic units may schedule up to 50% of all classes on a TT meeting pattern.
  • Any course with only one weekly meeting which lasts longer than a standard time must be scheduled outside of prime time.
  • Once-per-week classes that start prior to 3:30 p.m. must be paired according to one of the two-day per week patterns (MW, WF, MF, TT). For example, a TU class starting at 9:30 a.m. must be balanced by another TH class starting at the same time in the same room.
  • 100 and 200 level eight-week block courses must conform to scheduling guidelines.
  • 100 and 200 level eight-week block courses must be balanced between block 1 and block 2.
  • Classes meeting during the summer term are not required to adhere to these scheduling guidelines.


All classes are expected to conform to the guidelines above. Requests for exceptions are subject to the approval of the Schedule Management Group with final approval by the Office of the Provost. Variations in the application of these guidelines may be arranged for units with specific and persistent scheduling issues due to student learning needs or on behalf of enhanced space utilization. Persistent practices of that type, once approved as variations within colleges or academic units, will be acknowledged in subsequent versions of the policy.  

Direct questions to the person listed for your college:

 CAL: Traci Zimmerman

 CISE:  Jeff Tang

 COB: Kim Foreman

 CSM: Samantha Prins

 COE: Amy Thelk 

 CVPA: Wren Stevens

 CHBS: Doug Hochstetler

 UNST: Scott Paulson

For instructions and criteria on scheduling large classrooms, see

Summer and Winter Session Course Scheduling

All summer session courses must meet during the session time(s) assigned; that is, no additional “notes” may be added to the course description to allow for work to be done outside of the indicated session time. The bottom line? Students must be doing course work while they are registered for that course work.

For more information on summer and winter session courses, contact Catherine Crummet

Credit Hour Definition

During the spring 2021, the credit hour definition was revised for clarity. The revised definition of a credit hour is as follows and can be found in the current academic catalog.

Remote Teaching Due to COVID-19

For Fall 2020, the course meeting schedule was redesigned in response to the pandemic and called Schedule 2.0. The overarching principles for designing the semester were ensuring the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, as well as maintaining the hallmark of a JMU educational experience: the interaction between our students and faculty in classrooms, studios and labs. As part of Schedule 2.0, faculty that wished to teach online were required to complete and submit for AUH and dean approval a Request to Teach RemotelyFor the fall 2021 and beyond, we hope to return to pre-pandemic operations. In the event that we need to revert to remote teaching again this semester/year, this form or a similar process may be enacted again. Information or policy changes for the 2021-22 academic year will be released as the evolution of the pandemic necessitates.

Course Evaluations (BLUE)

Each academic unit has a course evaluation process. As of Spring 2020, all evaluations were conducted online using a course evaluation system called BLUE. While there are standard questions for all courseevaluations, each unit and faculty member may add their own questions. Prior to the release of the BLUE evaluations each semester, faculty will be notified of the ability (and timeline) to add questions pertinent to their individual courses. For more information about BLUE, please contact Donna Davis, Online Course Evaluation Administrator, at 568-7697 or at

Curriculum and Instruction

One of the most exciting things you get to do as AUH is work with your faculty through the C&I process, which is dictated by the Faculty Handbook.

Even if you have proposed classes or programs in the past, your role with curriculum is different as an AUH. You'll need to balance the needs of your students in offering the courses they need to progress to graduation with the wants of your faculty in teaching the topics that interest them most. You'll also need to become familiar with the preview process for new programs and significant program changes and what to look for when approving new courses, as well as important dates and deadlines. You'll work closely with your academic unit and college C&I Chairs, and you can contact Paula Maxwell for assistance.

You'll use Curriculog as the tool for processing all curriculum proposals. Curriculog staff are available to assist you with this process and any questions you have. They may be reached at   

In order to meet catalog deadlines and curriculum implementation timetables, certain deadlines have been established and approval steps provided. Please see for a list of those deadlines, approval steps and additional information on the curriculum approval processes.

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