Relations with Educational Accreditation Agencies Substantive Change

Purpose:  The following guidelines have been developed to provide all departments within the College District with a process for maintaining compliance with the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) policy on substantive change.

Applicability:  These procedures apply to all departments within the HCC District.

Notice:  The District Accreditation Compliance Office and the Vice Chancellor of Instruction are responsible for notifying SACSCOC of any and all substantive changes.

Responsibility:  Responsibility for College District compliance with the SACSCOC substantive change policy rests with the administration. It is theresponsibility of the District Accreditation Compliance Office to inform all members of the College District of the substantive change requirements.

Procedures

New Programs, Degrees or Certificates; Or significant changes to credit hours required for a degree or certificate

It is the responsibility of the Curriculum Office to ensure that substantive changes related to curriculum are submitted to the Accreditation Compliance Office for reporting to SACSCOC.

  1. New programs, degrees, and certificates or significant changes to the number of credit hours required for a program, degree or certificate must follow the approval process as outlined by the Curriculum Office.
  2. Curriculum changes proposed to the Curriculum Office must be accompanied by documentation showing program faculty approval, and the program’s Advisory Board approval, if applicable. Program faculty are advised to consult with the appropriate COE Dean or Director and the COE President before proposing a major curriculum change to the Curriculum Office.
  3. The Curriculum Office will notify the Accreditation Compliance Office of any substantive changes that must be reported to SACSCOC. If the substantive changes warrant a prospectus, the prospectus for a curriculum change planned for the fall semester must be submitted to in SACSCOC no later than the previous January 1st. The prospectus for curriculum changes planned for the spring or summer semester must be submitted to SACSCOC no later than the previous July 1st. These deadlines inform the timeline that the Curriculum Office and the Accreditation Compliance Office set for the affected faculty and approving entities.
  4. Changes meriting a prospectus must be approved by the appropriate deans or directors’ caucus, and the College District Curriculum Council.
  5. If the change merits a prospectus, the program faculty shall create the prospectus in collaboration with personnel from the Curriculum and the Accreditation Compliance Offices.
  6. Once the prospectus is finalized with all supporting documentation and approved by the Vice Chancellor of Instruction, the Accreditation Compliance Office submits all documentation to SACSCOC for approval.
  7. If the change does not merit a prospectus, the Accreditation Compliance Office is provided a description of the change with the appropriate documentation. Upon approval by the Vice Chancellor of Instruction, SACSCOC is notified of the change.
  8. When SACSCOC approves the change described in the prospectus or acknowledges the notification of change, the Accreditation Compliance Office will notify the Curriculum Office. Upon notification, the Curriculum Office initiates the processes that institute the change to the curriculum.

    No substantive change is effective until approval from SACSCOC.

Deactivated and Closed Programs, Degrees, and Certificates (With or without agreements)

It is the responsibility of the Curriculum Office to ensure that substantive changes related to deactivation or closure of programs, degrees or certificates are submitted to the Accreditation Compliance Office for reporting to SACSCOC

  1. If the program faculty and/or advisory board have made the recommendation to deactivate or close a program, degrees or certificates from a program, the deactivation approval process must be followed as outlined by the Curriculum Office. The Curriculum Office secures required documentation concerning the planned closure from the program faculty.
  2. Upon approval by the Vice Chancellor of Instruction, the Curriculum Office notifies the Accreditation Compliance Office of the deactivation approval.
  3. The Curriculum Office will also prepare a notice for the Chancellor with information concerning the deactivation of a program, degree or certificate so that the Chancellor may notify the Board of Trustees.
  4. The Accreditation Compliance Director notifies SACSCOC of the plan to deactivate or close the program or award and includes the required documentation with the notification.

    The program/award is not officially deactivated or closed until acknowledgement is received from SACSCOC.

New facilities, relocation or closure of existing facilities; Name change of new facilities owned by the College District

When the name of a facility is changed, but not closed or moved, the name change will be reported to SACSCOC along with the date that the name change goes into effect.

  1. When a new facility is proposed or when it is proposed that an existing major facility be moved, the approval of the College District Board of Trustees is required. The Vice-Chancellor of Instructional Services will notify the Accreditation Compliance Office of new facility approvals. The Accreditation Compliance Office submits all required documentation which includes the name, address of the site and the approximate date that the new structure will be completed, acquired, or moved.
  2. The Accreditation Compliance Office will be responsible for submitting the required prospectus to SACSCOC at least six months before the date instruction will begin at the site. A prospectus is not required for new buildings that will be part of an existing, previously reported campus.

Minor sites leased or owned by the College District

  1. The College District Registrar Office will notify the Accreditation Compliance Office whenever a new instructional site is added to the College District. This notice will include the name and address of the site.
  2. The Accreditation Compliance Office will notify SACSCOC twice a year of the names and addresses of the minor instructional sites. In addition, SACSCOC will also be notified of any instructional sites where 25% of a program is being taught.

Minor sites not leased or owned by the College District

The most common type of instructional site not leased or owned by HCC is a dual-credit high school. The Associate Vice Chancellor for College Readiness will be responsible for the prospectus once instruction at a dual credit site reaches 40%.

  1. The College District Registrar Office will notify the Accreditation Compliance Office whenever a new instructional site is added to the District. This notice will include the name and address of the site.
  2. The Accreditation Compliance Office will notify SACSCOC twice a year of the names and addresses of the dual credit instructional sites. In addition, SACSCOC will also be notified of any dual credit instructional sites where 25% of a program is being taught.
  3. When a dual credit site reaches the 40% of program instruction, the Associate Vice Chancellor for College Readiness is notified by the Accreditation Compliance Office to prepare a prospectus for that site. Once completed, the prospectus is sent to the Accreditation Compliance Office for submission to SACSCOC six months before the 50% of program instruction is reached.

Facility Closure

Closing major facilities requires Board approval. The Vice Chancellor of Instruction will inform the Accreditation Compliance Office of such approvals. The Accreditation Compliance Office will submit all required documentation informing SACSCOC that the site has closed.

Current sites owned or leased by the College District at 25% to 40% threshold

  1. The Accreditation Compliance Office will notify SACSCOC when 25% to 40% of a program instruction is reached. The Accreditation Compliance Office will make note of the date of the 25% threshold and maintain the list for submission to SACSCOC when the next substantive change notification is reported.
  2. When a site reaches the 40% mark of instruction, the Accreditation Compliance Office will prepare a prospectus for that site. A prospectus will also be prepared when there are at least 8 general education courses offered at a site or a mixture of general education and workforce courses equating or exceeding 24 SCH. Once completed the prospectus is sent to SACSCOC six months before the 50% of program instruction is reached.

Early College High School

  1. When a new Early College High School is proposed, the approval of the College District Board of Trustees is required. The Vice Chancellor of Instruction will prepare a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the partner school district for operation of an Early College High School for Board approval and will notify the Accreditation Compliance Office of the approval. The Accreditation Compliance Office will submit all required documentation which includes the name, address of the site and the approximate date that the new structure will be completed, acquired, or moved.
  2. When the Early College High School reaches the 40% of program instruction, the Associate Vice Chancellor of College Readiness is notified by the Accreditation Compliance Office to prepare a prospectus for that site. Once completed the prospectus is sent to the Accreditation Compliance Office for submission to SACSCOC six months before the 50% of program instruction is reached.

Other substantive changes:  For all other types of substantive changes, especially those involving significant changes in terms of institutional mission, level of program or course offerings, and partnerships with other institutions, the Chancellor will initiate the substantive change process, securing Board and/or State approval (THECB, State Legislature) when required.

Coursework at different level:  This type of change would require statutory authorization by the legislature. Prior to placing this measure on the College District’s legislative agenda, the Chancellor must first secure approval from the College District Board of Trustees followed by approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). Once approved and authorized by statute, the details of the curriculum would have to follow the internal approval processes as outlined in the HCC Curriculum Handbook. The Vice Chancellor of Instructional Services would oversee the approval processes and ensure that sufficient time is allowed to accommodate the twelve months advanced notice and prior approval required by SACSCOC before the implementation.

Altering the Institution's Educational Mission:  The fundamental educational mission of Texas community colleges is determined by the State Legislature and overseen by the THECB. With each new Strategic Plan, the HCC Board of Trustees revisits the HCC Mission Statement to ensure its alignment with state law, THECB rules and regulations, and to phrase it in terms that best serve the interests of the community. Any significant change in the educational mission would necessarily require concurrent conversations and approval by all governing bodies (HCC Board, THECB, and the State Legislature). The Chancellor will communicate the desire of the Board to make any significant changes in the educational mission of the institution to the Vice Chancellor for Instructional Services for subsequent notification to SACSCOC.

Joint or Dual Degrees with another Institution:  This type of change would come as a result of a contract or agreement originated by the Chancellor and would require approval of the HCC Board of Trustees. Upon Board approval, the Chancellor would direct the Accreditation Compliance Director to notify SACSCOC and request approval.

Programs or Courses offered through contract or consortium:  This type of arrangement is likely to begin at the program level in the instructional departments. A dean, director and/or a program coordinator would be involved in the initial stages, however any agreement(s) must signed and executed by the Chancellor in accordance with College District policy and subject to Board approval and THECB approval where required. Once approved, the Chancellor will notify the Vice-Chancellor of Instructional Services to pursue the internal approval processes and to work with the Accreditation Compliance Director to notify SACSCOC in a timely manner.

Contracting with Non-credited Entities:  Entering into a contract with an entity not certified to participate in USDOE Title IV programs may be initiated by the Chancellor and may require Board of Trustees and THECB approval. Once approved, the Chancellor will notify the Vice-Chancellor of Instructional Services to pursue the internal approval processes and to work with the Accreditation Compliance Director in order to notify SACSCOC in a timely manner.

Acquiring a Program or adding a permanent location site:  Taking over another institution’s governance, building(s) or programs or teaching-out another institution’s programs are activities that would be initiated by the Chancellor and would require the approval of the HCC Board of Trustees and THECB. Once approved, the Chancellor will notify the Vice-Chancellor of Instructional Services to pursue the internal approval processes and to work with the Accreditation Compliance Director in order to notify SACSCOC in a timely manner.

Merger or consolidaiton with another institution:  Merging with another institution would be initiated by the Chancellor and would require the approval of the Board of Trustees THECB. Once approved, the Chancellor will notify the Vice-Chancellor of Instructional Services to pursue the internal approval processes and to work with the Accreditation Compliance Director to notify SACSCOC in a timely manner.

Teaching-Out:  If HCC closes a program, a site, or decides to close altogether, and contracts with another institution to teach-out HCC’s students, the decision to do so will be made by the Chancellor and would require the approval of the Board of Trustees and THECB. The Vice-Chancellor of Instructional Services would inform the Accreditation Compliance Director of this event. From that point the procedures for notifying SACSCOC would be followed.

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