SACS SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE RESOURCES
The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits the University of Miami. It is responsible for reviewing all major institutional changes which occur between scheduled evaluation periods, determining whether or not the substantive change has affected the quality of the total institution. Therefore, prior to the implementation of a substantive change, it is the responsibility of an institution to follow the Substantive Change Procedures of the Commission and inform the Commission of such change in accord with those procedures. Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution.
If an institution fails to follow this substantive change policy and its procedures, the accreditation of the institution may be placed in jeopardy, the institution’s case may be referred to the Commission for the imposition of a sanction, or the institution may lose its Title IV funding or be required by the U.S. Department of Education to reimburse it for money received by the institution for unreported substantive changes.
NOTIFICATION AND/OR APPROVAL PROCEDURES
**SACS notification and/or approval cannot occur until all internal University of Miami approvals have been secured.**
SACS requires one of three different procedures for processing a substantive change. The procedures vary in depth and length of time required for processing based on the specific nature of the substantive change initiated by the university. The first step is to determine the precise nature of the substantive change. Contact the Office of Planning, Institutional Research, and Assessment (PIRA) early in the process for an unofficial determination of what category of change the proposal falls under. Although only SACS can make an official determination of the category of a change, PIRA will facilitate the process by assessing the change internally and coordinating all communication with SACS.
Please refer to UM’s Substantive Change Policy and Procedure for reporting the change to the Office of Planning, Institutional Research, and Assessment (PIRA).
STEP 1: SUBMIT NOTIFICATION OF CHANGE TO SACS – 6 MONTHS PRIOR TO IMPLEMENTATION (at least)
- The unit initiating the change must draft a written “Notification Letter” detailing the change. The letter will be signed by the Assistant Provost for Planning, Institutional Research, and Assessment; PIRA will support this process.
- Elements of a Notification Letter:
- Approximately 1-2 pages depending on the nature of the change and in language understandable to an outside reader.
- General statement of proposal (program, where, when)
- Degree (including how long in existence on the main campus)
- Location of site
- With Whom: Institution/University/Corporation.
- When – When courses are scheduled to begin, length of degree
- Who - Targeted group, needs.
- How it fits into University, college, department’s mission, vision, goals, and especially University academic themes
- Teaching Methodology: Face to face, Internet, video.
- Percentage of curriculum? Classroom, internships, trips, guest speakers, etc., language taught in
- Student Enrollment: Numbers, cohorts or on-going
- Differences in admission and/or graduation requirements
- Faculty Qualifications – Roster for each individual teaching at site; must meet SACS standards
- Financial Resources
- Physical Resources
- Learning resources—Libraries, computers, computer networks
- Support Services— Admission, registration, advising, orientation, etc
- Program Quality—Ways to monitor and ensure quality of courses, instruction and program as a whole: evaluation methods, instruments, who is responsible for implementation, how results will be used to make improvements.
STEP 2: SUBMIT SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE PROSPECTUS – 3 MONTHS PRIOR TO IMPLEMENTATION
- If the proposed change includes offering 50% or more of students’ credits toward a degree, it is advisable to submit the prospectus with the notification letter
- SACS requires use of their Substantive Change Prospectus Template
- PIRA provides support and background information for this process
STEP 3: SACS RESPONSE – A NUMBER OF RESPONSES FROM SACS ARE POSSIBLE
- Accept notification letter and require no additional information
- Accept notification letter and require a Substantive Change Prospectus (template above)
- Accept Substantive Change Prospectus and require no additional information
- Accept Substantive Change Prospectus and require Substantive Change Visit
For additional information on types of substantive change, substantive change visits, and budget considerations, please review SACS’ Policy Statement on Substantive Change or contact Gisela Dominguez at extension 8-9431 .