As a standard of accreditation the University must notify the SACSCOC of substantive changes before they occur. The purpose of this policy is to establish institutional procedures for recognizing and approving substantive change and ensuring timely notification to SACSCOC.Substantive change is defined as a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution. The types of substantive change and the procedures for addressing them are found in the Commission on Colleges’ substantive change policy document and its substantive changes website at https://sacscoc.org/app/uploads/2019/08/SubstantiveChange.pdf.
Institutional changes at ASU are likely to evolve from an organizational level approach such as (1) Program/Course Level, (2) School/College/Departmental Level, and (3) Institutional Level.
If a department or school at Alcorn State University is contemplating changes at the Program/Course Level that would:
- (a)expand significantly a current degree program;
- (b)add courses or programs that would represent a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those offered currently;
- (c)initiate programs or courses offered through a contractual agreement or consortium;
change significantly the length of a program;
- (d)initiate degree completion programs; or
- (e) initiate programs at any degree level;
then the University may have to obtain approval or at least notify the SACSCOC before the change can be implemented.
If a department or school is contemplating changes at the School/College/Department Level that would result in:
- (a)initiating an off-campus site;
- (b)initiating distance learning;
- (c)adding significant changes in existing technology-based delivery systems in distance learning
- (d)initiating dual or joint degrees
- (e)initiating a program or courses delivered through cooperative academic agreement
Finally, if the University is contemplating one of the following Institutional Level changes:
- (a)initiating a branch campus;
- (b) initiating a merger/consolidation;
- (c) initiating any change in the established mission of the institution;
- (d) relocating a main campus;
- (e) initiating any change of legal status, governance, form of control, or ownership of the institution; or
- (f)closing an institution/program and initiating teach-out agreements; then the University may have to obtain approval or at least notify SACSCOC before the change can be implemented
- (g)initiating coursework or program at a different level than currently approved
Vice Presidents, Associate and Assistant Vice Presidents, Deans, Associate and Assistant Deans, Directors and Department Chairs have the fundamental responsibility to be generally aware of the substantive change policy, inform the Institutional Accreditation Liaison at the earliest point possible of proposals that may be considered a substantive change for the University, and provide the Accreditation Liaison with any data, information, or prospectus necessary to comply with Commissions on Colleges’ policy when requested. (Appendix B provides detailed information on the types of substantive changes and notification regulations.)
The established institutional approval process must be followed prior to submitting substantive change reports to the Commission on Colleges. In order to facilitate and document the internal review process, the Substantive Change Checklist (Appendix A) must be completed in the originating department. The institutional approval process must be completed sufficiently early so that the Commission on Colleges’ reporting requirements are met.
The initiator in the originating department must submit the completed checklist to the Accreditation Liaison to determine if the change is considered a substantive change. A determination whether or not the change is substantive is returned to the initiator. Upon receipt of that determination, the initiator proceeds to collect all required data supporting the change and submits the request for change to all appropriate University committees and officers for approval. Upon obtaining all approvals, the initiator submits the formal request and evidence of approvals to the appropriate Vice President for final action. Upon receipt, the Vice President will notify the Accreditation Liaison of internal approval and the need to submit the appropriate communication to the Commission on Colleges.
After all internal approvals have been obtained, the Liaison will prepare the President’s “Notification Letter” for approval. In addition to the “Notification Letter,” a “Substantive Change Prospectus” may also be required. (SACSCOC requires use of their Substantive Change Prospectus Template (www.sacscoc.org – Substantive Changes) .
Anyone seeking to make changes should involve the Institutional Accreditation Liaison to determine if any actions being contemplated might qualify as substantive changes.
OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION OF APPROVAL FROM SACSCOC IS REQUIRED PRIOR TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ANY PROGRAM.