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Handbook of Operating Procedures
Chapter 2 - Faculty and Academics
Publication Date: August 24, 2012
Responsible Executive: VP for Academic Affairs


2.35 Substantive Change Procedures Required to Obtain Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Approval 

 


I. POLICY STATEMENT


The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) must approve all changes proposed by The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) considered to be substantive according to its “Substantive Change Policy.” This approval must be granted prior to implementation of changes. Materials will be submitted to SACSCOC for approval only after required institutional, The University of Texas System (UT System) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) approvals have been obtained.


II. RATIONALE


This policy outlines the procedures which UTSA must follow to comply with the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy, in adherence with U.S. Department of Education regulations (34 CFR 602.22). Adherence to the policy will ensure UTSA avoids sanctions and penalties associated with non-compliance.


III. SCOPE


This policy applies to all changes at UTSA that fall under the scope of the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy. (See definition for additional details.)  All individuals involved in proposing and/or implementing a substantive change must coordinate the efforts with the responsible parties designated in this policy for type of change, for example, the UT System, the executives, the appropriate vice provost and the college associate dean, and ultimately with UTSA’s SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison (Liaison).


IV. WEBSITE ADDRESS FOR THIS POLICY


http://www.utsa.edu/hop/chapter2/2-35.html


V. RELATED STATUTES, POLICIES, REQUIREMENTS OR STANDARDS


UTSA or UT System Policies or the Board of Regents Rules & Regulations        

  1. UTSA Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP) policy 2.38, Academic Program Abandonment
  2. UTSA HOP policy 2.43, Educational Programs and Courses Offered Through Collaborative Academic Arrangements
  3. The University of Texas System (UT System) Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Rule 40307, Academic Program Approval Standards      

Other Policies & Standards

  1. Texas Administrative Code
    Title 19, Part 1, Chapter 5, Subchapter C, Rule 5.45 – Criteria for New Baccalaureate and Master’s Degree Programs

  2. Texas Administrative Code
    Title 19, Part 1, Chapter 5, Subchapter C, Rule 5.46 – Criteria for New Doctoral Programs

  3. Texas Administrative Code
    Title 19, Part 1, Chapter 4, Subchapter P, Rules 4.255 through 4.264 – Approval of Distance Education Courses and Programs for Public Institutions
      
  4. Texas Administrative Code
    Title 19, Part 1, Chapter 5, Subchapter D, Rule 5.76 – General Principles for Off-Campus Educational Units

  5. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
    Policies regarding Off-Campus Education Unit Designation for Universities and Health-Related Institutions
  6. SACS, Commission on Colleges Substantive Change Policy
  7. SACS, Commission on Colleges Mergers, Consolidations, Change of Ownership, Acquisitions, and Change of Governance, Control, Form, or Legal Status (Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions) (Mergers and Consolidations Policy)
  8. SACS, Commission on Colleges Distance and Correspondence Education
  9. SACS, Commission on Colleges Collaborative Academic Arrangements: Policy and Procedures (Collaborative Academic Arrangements Policy)
  10. SACS, Commission on Colleges The Accreditation Liaison
  11. U.S. Department of Education 34 CFR 602.22


VI. CONTACTS


If you have any questions about HOP policy 2.35, Substantive Change Procedures Required to Obtain Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Approval, contact UTSA’s SACSCOC Liaison.

Contact the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and ask for the SACSCOC Liaison
210-458-4110

 

VII. DEFINITIONS


NOTE: Other than “Associate Dean”, the following definitions are included in the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy, the Mergers and Consolidations Policy, Collaborative Academic Arrangements Policy, or the substantive change definition used by SACSCOC (quoted below).

Associate Dean is the person assigned by the dean of the college to monitor and serve as a contact regarding academic program changes that might be deemed as potentially substantive per the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy (see I. in Section V above).

Branch campus is a location of an institution that is geographically apart and independent of the main
campus of the institution. A location is independent of the main campus if the location is permanent in nature; offers courses in educational programs leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential; has its own faculty and administrative or supervisory organization; and has its own budgetary and hiring authority. (UTSA currently does not operate a branch campus.)

Certificate program for purposes of this policy, is an organized set of courses to be offered for academic credit which (1) has been previously approved by SACSCOC but will be offered at a new off-campus site, or (2)  is a significant departure from a previously approved program.

Change of ownership is the sale or transfer to, or acquisition by, a new owner of all, or a substantial portion, of the institution’s assets, or the assets of a branch campus or site.

Collaborative academic arrangements are defined by the SACSCOC as agreements between institutions accredited by the SACSCOC and accredited or non-accredited degree-granting institutions of higher education throughout the world for purposes of awarding academic credits and/or educational program completion credentials (e.g., certificates, diplomas, degrees or transcripts). Collaborative academic arrangements are most commonly identified as dual or joint educational programs, affiliations, partnerships, consortial agreements, and other similar terms. The most common forms of collaborative academic arrangements are dual educational programs and joint educational programs.

  1. A dual educational program is one whereby students study at two or more institutions, and each institution awards a separate program completion credential bearing only its own name, seal and signature. Note:  Dual enrollments—high school students taking college courses for concurrent credit— are not included in this definition and not covered by this policy.
  2. A joint educational program is one whereby students study at two or more institutions and are awarded a single program completion credential bearing the names, seals and signatures of each of the participating institutions.

College/Department/Program Level Change is an academic-related change (noted in IX.B. below) that does not require the prior approval of the President and/or UT System.

Consolidation is the combination or transfer of the assets of at least two distinct institutions (to that of a newly-formed institution. An example includes two colleges consolidating to form a new institution. (See also Change of ownership and Merger.)

Correspondence education is a formal educational process under which the institution provides instructional materials, by mail or electronic transmission, including examinations on the materials, to students who are separated from the instructor. Interaction between the instructor and the student is limited, is not regular and substantive, and is primarily initiated by the student; courses are typically self-paced. (UTSA currently does not offer correspondence education.)

Degree completion program is a program typically designed for a non-traditional undergraduate population such as working adults who have completed some college-level course work but have not achieved a baccalaureate degree. Students in such programs may transfer in credit from courses taken previously. Courses in degree completion programs are often offered in an accelerated format or meet during evening and weekend hours, or may be offered via distance learning technologies. (UTSA currently does not offer degree completion programs.)

Degree programs, for purposes of this policy, are programs of study that reflect a substantive change, and result in a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree. If necessary, such programs have been approved by UT System, and/or the THECB.

Distance education is a formal educational process in which the majority of the instruction (interaction between students and instructors and among students) in a course occurs when students and instructors are not in the same place. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. A distance education course may use the internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices; audio conferencing; or video cassettes, DVD’s, and CD-ROMs if used as part of the distance learning course or program.

Educational program is a coherent course of study leading to the awarding of a credential (i.e., a degree, diploma or certificate).

Institutional Level Change is a non-academic or administrative-related change (noted in IX.A. below) that can only be initiated with the prior approval of UT System.

Merger is the acquisition by one institution of another institution's assets. An example includes an institution accredited by SACSCOC acquiring the assets of a non-accredited institution. (See also change of ownership and consolidation.)

Modified prospectus is a prospectus submitted in lieu of a full prospectus for certain designated substantive changes. When a modified prospectus is acceptable, the SACSCOC specifies requested information from the institution.

Notification is a letter from an institution’s chief executive officer, or his/her designated representative, to the SACSCOC President summarizing a proposed change, providing the intended implementation date, and listing the complete physical address, if the change involves the initiation of an off-campus site or branch campus. The policy and procedures for reporting and review of institutional substantive change are outlined in the document “Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions of the Commission on Colleges.”

Off-campus sites are any facilities located geographically physically separate from the main campuses of UTSA.

SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison (Liaison) is the individual at UTSA charged with ensuring UTSA’s compliance with accreditation requirements. For a full description of duties and activities this position entails, see the SACSCOC “The Accreditation Liaison” in Sec. V.M, pages 1-2, “Responsibilities of the Accreditation Liaison.”

Significant departure is a program that is not closely related to previously approved programs at the institution or site or for the mode of delivery in question. See SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy in Sec. V.I, page 4, for indications a departure may be considered significant.

Substantive change is defined by the SACSCOC as a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. These changes include: any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution; any change in legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution; the addition of courses or programs that represent a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated; the addition of courses or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from that which is included in the institution’s current accreditation or reaffirmation; a substantial change in the number of credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program; the establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50 percent of an educational program; the establishment of a branch campus; closing a program, off-campus site, branch campus or institution; entering into a collaborative academic arrangement such as a dual degree program or a joint degree program with another institution; acquiring another institution or a program or location of another institution; adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution; or entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25% or more of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs.

Teach-out agreement is a written agreement between institutions that provides for the equitable treatment of students and a reasonable opportunity for students to complete their program of study if an institution, or an institutional location that provides fifty percent or more of at least one program offered ceases to operate before all enrolled students have completed their program of study. Such a teach-out agreement requires SACSCOC approval in advance of implementation.

Teach-out plan is a written plan developed by an institution that provides for the equitable treatment of students if an institution, or an institutional location that provides fifty percent or more of at least one program ceases to operate before all students have completed their program of study, and may include, if required by the institution's accrediting agency, a teach-out agreement between institutions. Teach-out plans must be approved by SACSCOC in advance of implementation.


VIII. RESPONSIBILITIES


  1. Dean
    IX. Procedures, Section B.3.a applies.
  2. Department Chair (or Organizational Equivalent) Coordinating the Substantive Change
    IX. Procedures, Section B.3.b (i-iv), (g) and (h) apply.
  3. Associate Dean (Assigned for Substantive Change)
    IX. Procedures, Section B.3.c, g and h apply.
  4. Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Studies (or Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School)
    IX. Procedures, Section B.3.d applies.
  5. Liaison
    IX. Procedures, Section A.3.c and A.3.e apply for Institution Level substantive changes;
    IX. Procedures, Section B.3.e applies for College/Department/Program Level substantive changes.
  6. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
    IX. Procedures, Section B.3. f applies.
  7. President or His/Her Designated Representative
    IX. Procedures, Section A.3.a, b, d and f apply.   

IX. PROCEDURES


  1. Institutional Level (Non-Academic or Administrative-Related) Substantive Changes
    1. Institutional Level Substantive Change, either non-academic or administrative-related, can only be initiated with the prior approval of UT System.
    2. The following changes are considered by UTSA to be non-academic or administrative-related Institutional Level Changes that require the approval of the SACSCOC prior to implementation:
      1. Any change in UTSA's established mission or objectives;
      2. Any change of UTSA's legal status, governance, form of control, or ownership;
      3. Establishment of a branch campus;
      4. Closing a branch campus or institution (and initiating related teach-out agreements);
      5. Acquiring another institution;
      6. Acquiring a program or location from another institution;
      7. Changing from clock hours to credit hours (In the event that the acquisition in e. or f. above involved clock hours, a conversion would be required because UTSA awards only credit hours.);
      8. Adding a permanent location at a site where UTSA is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution;
      9. Initiating a merger/consolidation;
      10. Relocating a main campus; or
      11. Entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25% or more of the accredited institution’s programs.
    3. The necessary steps for ensuring compliance for institutional changes are grouped by role below:
      1. If the change is not initiated by the UT System, the President must obtain the approval of the proposed change from the UT System  before pursuing the steps in b, d and f below.
      2. The President (or His/Her designated representative) must inform the Liaison of the proposed change in the form of a draft notification letter at least nine (9) months in advance of the proposed implementation date or as soon as possible if less time is available.
      3. The Liaison, upon learning of the impending proposed change, must obtain and provide to the SACSCOC a letter of notification from the President at least six (6) month prior to the planned change.
      4. Upon of receipt of required approvals from  UTSA, UT System and State levels, the President (or His/Her designated representative) will provide the Liaison all information/documentation required by the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy.
      5. The Liaison will:
        1. Provide the package of substantive change materials to the SACSCOC.
        2. Inform the President when SACSCOC approval is obtained.
      6. The President may implement the change once informed of the SACSCOC approval.
      7. See the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy for requirement details.
  2. College/Department/Program Leval (Academic-Related) Substantive Changes
    1. College/Department/Program Level Changes do not require the prior approval of the President and UT System.
    2. The following changes are considered by UTSA to be academic-related College/Department/Program Level changes that may require the approval of the SACSCOC prior to implementation:
      1. Adding courses or programs that would represent a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those offered currently;
      2. Adding courses or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from that which is included in UTSA’s current accreditation or reaffirmation;
      3. Initiating a degree completion program;
      4. Changing from clock hours to credit hours (UTSA currently only awards credit hours.);
      5. Initiating certificate programs;
      6. Substantially increasing the number of credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program;
      7. Initiating an off-campus site  for program offerings, including Early College High School Programs offered at a high school);
      8. Expanding program offerings at a previously-approved off-campus site;
      9. Moving an off-campus instructional site (serving the same geographic area);
      10. Initiating delivery of a program via distance learning;
      11. Initiating programs or courses offered through a contractual agreement or consortium;
      12. Initiating a collaborative academic arrangement (dual or joint educational program);
      13. Closing a program or elimination of an off-campus site for a program and initiating any related teach-out agreements;
      14. Initiating or eliminating distance learning for a program; or
      15. Adding significant changes in existing technology-based delivery systems in distance learning.
    3. To comply with the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy, each college or other administrative unit involved in proposing a change must work with the offices designated below to determine whether the change is considered to be a substantive change according to the definition above, so that SACSCOC can be notified and approval obtained prior to implementation. The necessary steps are grouped by role below:
      1. The college dean must assign an associate dean to monitor substantive change proposals related to academic degree programs, certificates and courses within the college.
      2. The department chair or organizational equivalent must ensure that the associate dean is made aware of any proposed changes to a program, certificate, and course offered for academic credit that may considered to be substantive by:
        1. Notifying the designated associate dean of each proposed new program or program change at least nine months prior to planned implementation. See paragraphs g. and h. below for implications for short notice.
        2. Preparing required substantive change materials (including the teach-out agreement and teach-out plan for an eliminated program or off-campus site) and submitting to the associate dean at least eight months prior to planned implementation.
        3. Implementing substantive change only after informed of SACSCOC approval by the associate dean.
        4. Complying with all aspects of this policy and HOP policy 2.43 related to collaborative academic arrangements, if substantive change involves other institution(s).
      3. The designated associate dean must monitor potential substantive changes in the college and:
        1. Be familiar with all substantive change issues identified by the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy.
        2. Serve as the contact between the department chair, the dean, the vice provost and dean for either undergraduate studies or for the graduate school depending on the level of the proposed change, and the Liaison regarding all substantive change issues.
        3. Communicate the plan for each change in degree or certificate program or course offered at the undergraduate level to the vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies and at the graduate level to the vice provost and dean of the graduate school at least eight months prior to the planned implementation (or as soon as possible if given less notice). See paragraphs g. and h. below for implications of short notice.
        4. Provide a draft letter describing the substantive change to the Liaison at least seven months prior to the planned implementation (or as soon as possible if given less notice).
        5. Submit departmental substantive change materials (including the teach-out agreement and teach-out plan for an eliminated program or off-campus site) to the Liaison at least six months prior to planned implementation (or as soon as possible if given less notice).
        6. Notify the department chair or equivalent that SACSCOC approval has been obtained when informed by the Liaison.
        7. Verify to the Liaison that no substantive change has been implemented before SACSCOC approval has been obtained from the Liaison.
      4. The vice provost and dean for undergraduate studies or vice provost and dean of the graduate school must communicate each potential substantive change related to their respective degree programs, certificates and courses to the Liaison, as soon as notified by associate dean.
      5. The Liaison must coordinate all submissions of substantive changes to the SACSCOC, including:
        1. Obtaining the president’s signature on the letter of notification and submitting to the SACSCOC president at least six months prior to planned implementation (or as soon as possible if given less notice).
        2. Coordinating the development of substantive change materials to the SACSCOC.
        3. Submitting all substantive change materials required by the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy to the SACSCOC at least six months prior to the planned implementation (or as soon as possible if given less notice).
        4. Communicating the SACSCOC approval to the associate dean (or equivalent) of the college and to the vice provost and dean for undergraduate studies or vice provost and dean of the graduate school when it is received.
      6. The provost and vice president for academic affairs or designee must ensure that all documentation, notifications, and approval arising from all proposed substantive changes are completed prior to implementation.
      7. No program or course requiring approval by the SACSCOC may be implemented until the department chair or equivalent receives notification of SACSCOC approval from the associate dean. Because UTSA must receive formal notice of approval from the THECB for changes it considers substantive before submitting the substantive change material to the SACSCOC for approval, it may not be possible to receive approval by the preferred implementation date.
      8. Delays in notification to the associate dean and/or submission of appropriate materials to the Liaison may result in delays in approval by the SACSCOC. In addition, delays in notification to the SACSCOC may, depending upon the nature of the substantive change, result in:
        1. Delays in implementation of the program or course.
        2. Suspension of the program or course until approval is obtained.
      9. See the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy for requirement details.
  3. If implementation of changes is desired as soon as possible, the required actions described can be initiated earlier than the stated deadlines in this policy.
  4. Failure to receive approval of changes considered substantive according to SACSCOC prior to implementation can result in sanctions to UTSA.

X. SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR INITIAL IMPLEMENTATION


None


XI. FORMS AND TOOLS/ONLINE PROCESSES


Changes considered “substantive” and the SACSCOC policy regarding each are identified in the SACSCOC Substantive Changes for Accredited Institutions of the Commission on Colleges Policy Statement, found on the SACSCOC website. This document provides useful guidance, and also links to other policies that apply under certain circumstances.


XII. APPENDIX


None