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Handbook of Operating Procedures
Chapter 2 - Faculty and Academics
Publication Date: October 25, 2018
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 policy, Substantive Changes for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions found on the SACSCOC website. This approval must be granted prior to implementation of changes. Materials will be submitted to SACSCOC for approval in addition to required institutional, The University of Texas System (UT System) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) approvals as needed.

II. RATIONALE



This policy outlines the procedures which UTSA must follow to comply with the SACSCOC policy, Substantive Changes for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions, in adherence with U.S. Department of Education regulations (34 CFR 602.22). Adherence to this 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 policy, Substantive Changes for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions.   


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, Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards
  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. SACSCOC – Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions
  7. SACSCOC -  Merger/Consolidation, Acquisition, Change of Ownership, and Change of Governance, Control, Form, or Legal Status
  8. SACSCOC  - Distance and Correspondence Education 
  9. SACSCOC - Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards
  10. SACSCOC - 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 in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness:  210-458-4706.

UTSA’s SACSCOC Liaison is Kasey Neece-Fielder. 


VII. DEFINITIONS


Academic-Related (College/Department/Program Level) Change:  Most academic-related changes deemed to be substantive can only be initiated with prior University, UT System and THECB approvals before submission for notification/approval to the SACSCOC.  SACSCOC approval must be obtained prior to implementation.  The following changes are considered by UTSA to be academic-related changes that require the notification/approval of the SACSCOC prior to implementation:

 

      1. Initiating coursework or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from that which is included in UTSA’s current accreditation or reaffirmation;
      2. Initiating off-campus sites where students can obtain 50% or more credits toward a program (including but not limited to Early College High School, dual enrollment programs offered at a high school);
      3. Initiating off-campus sites where students can obtain 25-49% of credits toward a program (including but not limited to Early College High School, dual enrollment programs offered at a high school);
      4. Expanding at current degree level (significant departure from current programs);
      5. Expanding program offerings at previously approved off-campus sites by adding programs that ARE significantly different from current programs at the site AND at the institution;
      6. Initiating a degree completion program;
      7. Changing from clock hours to credit hours (UTSA currently only awards credit hours.);
      8. Initiating a certificate program at a new off-campus site;
      9. Initiating a certificate program that is a significant departure from previously approved programs;
      10. Substantially increasing or decreasing the number of credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program;
      11. Moving an off-campus instructional site (serving the same geographic area);
      12. Initiating delivery of a program via distance learning;
      13. Initiating programs or courses offered through a contractual agreement or consortium;
      14. Initiating a dual or joint educational program or degree;
      15. Closing a program or elimination of an off-campus site for a program and initiating any related teach-out agreements/plans.

Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards: 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 completion awards (e.g., certificates, diplomas, or degrees). They are also referred to as affiliations, partnerships, and consortial agreements.

  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.

Branch campus: 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, a certificate program 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: 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.

College/Department/Program Level Change: An academic-related change that requires prior approvals within the institution and from the UT System and the THECB before submission for approval to the SACSCOC.

Consolidation: 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: 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: 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, degree programs 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 the THECB through The UT System.

Distance education: 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: A coherent course of study leading to the awarding of a credential (i.e., a degree, diploma or certificate).

Institutional Level Change: A non-academic or administrative-related change that can only be initiated with the prior approval of UT System and the THECB before submission for approval to the SACSCOC.  Institutional level changes are considered substantive and cannot be implemented until SACSCOC approval is obtained.  Examples of institutional level changes are:

      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.

Merger: 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: 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: 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: Any facilities located geographically physically separate from the main campuses of UTSA.

SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison (Liaison): The institutional representative appointed by the president who is charged with ensuring UTSA’s compliance with accreditation requirements.  The Liaison also guides the development of substantive change materials and submits those materials to the SACSCOC.  

Significant departure: A program that is not closely related to previously approved programs at the institution or site or the addition of substantially more new courses or credit hours to a degree program. See SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy in Sec. V.I, page 4, for indications a departure may be considered significant.

Substantive change: Defined by the SACSCOC as a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. There are two types of substantive changes, institutional level and academic-related substantive changes.  (See definitions for Institutional Level Change and Academic-Related Change.)

Teach-out agreement: 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: A written plan developed by an institution that provides for the equitable treatment of students in an institution if a program is being eliminated, or if 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 of a substantive change that entails ceasing to offer a program or closes a location as noted above.


VIII. RESPONSIBILITIES


  1. Institutional Level (Non-Academic or Administrative-Related) Substantive Changes
    Deadlines: Institutional level substantive change deadlines vary depending on the type of change.  Work with the SACSCOC Liaison for UTSA to ensure timely submission of material.  It takes a minimum of six months for submissions to be processed by the SACSCOC. 
    1. President (or his/her designated representative):
      1. Be aware of the substantive change policy and recognize potential institutional level substantive changes;
      2. Inform the Liaison of any proposed institutional level substantive change in the form of a draft notification letter with ample time for the Liaison to provide the information to the SACSCOC for approval in advance of the proposed implementation date;
      3. Obtain University, UT System and THECB approval before submission to the SACSCOC for approval (if the change is not initiated by UT System);
      4. Provide the Liaison the necessary information and documentation required by the SACSCOC substantive change policy (upon receipt of required approvals at university and state levels); and
      5. Ensure the change is not implemented until SACSCOC approval is obtained. 
  2. Academic Related Substantive Changes (College/Department/Program Level)
    At the earliest stage of consideration of an academic-related change, the college dean will discuss development with the Vice Provost of Academic Affairs (undergraduate programs) or Vice Provost of Graduate School (graduate programs).  If the proposal is supported by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and determined to be substantive for SACSCOC purposes, the college dean and the appropriate department will work with the SACSCOC Liaison to request SACSCOC approval.  (In conjunction with SACSCOC approval, a proposal that is substantive must also receive institutional, UT System and THECB approval.

    Deadlines: The SACSCOC must receive most academic-related substantive change material from the institution by January 1st for a change desired to be implemented between July 1st and December 31st of the same year, and by July 1st for a change desired to be implemented between January 1st and June 30th of the following year.  Work with the SACSCOC Liaison for UTSA to ensure timely submission of material.  It takes a minimum of six months for submissions to be processed by the SACSCOC. 

    1. College Dean
      1. Be aware of the substantive change policy and recognize potential academic-related substantive changes;
      2. Monitor substantive change proposals related to academic degree programs, certificates and courses within the college;
      3. Obtain consultation and feedback from the Dean’s Council, Vice Provost of Academic Affairs (undergraduate programs), Vice Provost of Graduate School (graduate programs),  and the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs before initiating any changes;
      4. Secure approval for the budget through the Provost and Vice Provost for Academic Finance and Administration (if funding is necessary);
      5. Initiate the approval process through the appropriate Vice Provost responsible for its oversight and the Liaison;
      6. Work with the appropriate department to provide the materials needed for University, UT System, THECB, and SACSCOC approvals;
      7. Ensure that any advertisement of the proposed change includes the language that it is “pending SACSCOC approval”; and
      8. Ensure the change is not implemented until SACSCOC approval is obtained.
    2. Vice Provost of Academic Affairs
      1. Be aware of the substantive change policy and recognize potential academic-related substantive changes;
      2. Provide oversight of all substantive change proposals related to academic degree programs, certificates and courses with a college at the undergraduate level;
      3. Consult with and notify the Liaison of all substantive change proposals that are in process;
      4. Communicate each proposed substantive change related to their respective degree programs, certificates and courses to the Faculty Senate;
      5. Upon recommendation from the Faculty Senate to approve the change, oversee the approval process to include approval from the Provost, President, and THECB through UT System;
      6. Ensure that any advertisement of the proposed change includes the language that it is “pending SACSCOC approval”; and
      7. Ensure the change is not implemented until SACSCOC approval is obtained.  
    3. Vice Provost of Graduate School
      1. Be aware of the substantive change policy and recognize potential academic-related substantive changes;
      2. Provide oversight of all substantive change proposals related to academic degree programs, certificates and courses with a college at the graduate level;
      3. Consult with and notify the Liaison of all substantive change proposals that are in process;
      4. Communicate each proposed substantive change related to their respective degree programs, certificates and courses to the Graduate Council;
      5. Upon recommendation from the Graduate Council to approve the change, communicate the proposed substantive change to the Faculty Senate;
      6. Upon recommendation from the Faculty Senate to approve the change, oversee the approval process to include approval from the Provost, President, and THECB through UT System;
      7. Ensure that any advertisement of the proposed change includes the language that it is “pending SACSCOC approval”; and
      8. Ensure the change is not implemented until SACSCOC approval is obtained.  
    4. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
      1. Be aware of the substantive change policy and recognize potential academic-related substantive changes;
      2. Consult with college deans and provide feedback on the development of possible substantive change proposals related to academic degree programs, certificates and courses;
      3. Work with the Vice Provost for Academic Finance and Administration to identify funding for new proposals (if necessary);
      4. After Faculty Senate approval and if the proposal is supported by the Provost, approve the substantive change proposal and route it to the President;
      5. After President’s approval, send the substantive change proposal to the THECB through UT System;
      6. Notify the Liaison that the proposal has been submitted to the THECB through UT System for approval;
      7. Communicate approval by the THECB to the University;
      8. Ensure that any advertisement of the proposed change includes the language that it is “pending SACSCOC approval”; and
      9. Ensure the change is not implemented until SACSCOC approval is obtained.  
    5. President (or his/her disgnated representative)
      1. Be aware of the substantive change policy and recognize potential academic-related substantive changes;
      2. Work with the Provost to monitor all substantive change proposals related to academic degree programs, certificates and courses; and
      3. After Provost approval, provide executive level approval for the University.

  3. Duties of the SACSCOC Liason for all substantive changes
    1. Assist the University in complying with SACSCOC policy and procedures on substantive change and reporting substantive changes to the SACSCOC;
    2. Maintain information on SACSCOC substantive changes submitted by the University to the SACSCOC;
    3. Oversee the process of preparing appropriate notification of the substantive change and  materials needed for approval according to SACSCOC requirements;
    4. Provide the substantive change materials to the SACSCOC by their review deadlines; 
    5. Coordinate with SACSCOC and the appropriate University representative concerning needed actions and follow up activities;
    6. Inform the appropriate University personnel when when SACSCOC approval is obtained (the President for institutional level changes and the President, the Provost, the appropriate Vice Provost and the Dean/Associate Dean for academic-related changes); and
    7. Make recommendations for updating this policy as SACSCOC policies and principles change.

IX. PROCEDURES


  1. There are three types of procedures for reporting substantive change to the SACSCOC. 
    1. Procedure One - Requires submission of an application or prospectus and approval by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees prior to implementation. 
    2. Procedure Two - Requires notification to the President of SACSCOC prior to implementation.
    3. Procedure Three - Specific to closing a program or instructional site.

For details on University procedures related to reporting substantive change, see Substantive Change on the Office of Institutional Effectiveness website.


X. SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR INITIAL IMPLEMENTATION


None


XI. FORMS AND TOOLS/ONLINE PROCESSES


Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions includes guidelines, forms and procedures for obtaining SACSCOC approval for all institutional level and academic-related substantive changes.

Listed below are online processes and templates to aid in obtaining some of the most frequent academic-related substantive changes including:

  1. Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards
    1. UTSA Guidelines for SACSCOC Approval
    2. Information Form
    3. Checklists and Approvals
    4. Annual Assessment and Periodic Review Report
  2. Altering Significantly the Length or Scope of a Program
    1. UTSA Instructions and Process for SACSCOC approval
  3. New Degree Programs
    1. UTSA Instructions, Process, and Prospectus Template for SACSCOC Approval
    2. Proposals for Academic Program Changes (guidance for THECB and SACSCOC approval)
  4. Closing an Educational Program or Instructional Site
    1. UTSA Instructions and Process for SACSCOC Approval
  5. Initiating Off-Campus Instructional Sites (including dual-enrollment high school sites)
    1. UTSA Instructions, Process, and Prospectus Template for SACSCOC Approval

XII. APPENDIX


None