Gateway SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy | GCTC

Gateway SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy

Approved: August 11, 2009
Revised: February1 4, 2012; January 15, 2018 (approved March 2, 2018)
Reviewed: November, 2020

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires its member institutions to have a policy and procedure to ensure that all substantive changes are reported to the Commission in a timely fashion. As an accredited member institution, Gateway Community and Technical College is committed to adhering to the Commission’s Substantive Change Policy for Accredited Institutions which is available at www.sacscoc.org.

The Principles of Accreditation, Standard 14.2 states that “The institution has a policy and procedure to ensure that all substantive changes are reported in accordance with SACSCOC policy.”

The SACSCOC policy statement, “Substantive Change Policy and Procedures” (September, 2020) defines substantive change as a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. Substantive change includes high-impact, high-risk changes and changes that can impact the quality of educational programs and services. Failure to comply with the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures or Standard 14.2 may result in the Commission taking negative action against GCTC and loss of student eligibility to receive federal financial aid.

Substantive changes fall into five broad categories: 1) Academic program initiation, closure, or modification, 2) Off-campus site initiation, relocation, closure, or modification of programs offered, 3) Direct assessment/competency- based education, 4) Institutional changes in mission, ownership, or partnership, and 5) Distance Learning.

Policy

Gateway Community and Technical College will thoroughly analyze changes in its educational offerings and will notify and/or seek approval from the Commission on Colleges of all changes that meet the SACSCOC definition of substantive change. All submissions will meet SACSCOC reporting deadlines and meet requirements detailed in the SACSCOC policy statement, “Substantive Change Policy and Procedures” (September 2020).

Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of those charged with ensuring compliance with this policy are described below.

Provost/Accreditation Liaison

As of October 2016, the Provost also serves as the college’s Accreditation Liaison. 

Provost

In the role of Provost, this individual provides leadership in the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of the instructional units of the college and monitors any upcoming academic changes that meet the SACSCOC definition of the various types substantive change. The Provost also works with the Associate Vice President of Workforce Solutions, Associate Vice President of Academic Services, Academic Deans, Director of Early College Initiatives, program coordinators and faculty to determine if new academic programs or percentage of credit bearing course work offered at another location is, by SACSCOC definition, a significant departure. If so, the Provost works with these groups to gather the information/documentation needed to complete the substantive change process. The Provost notifies the Registrar and Director of Financial Aid of any curricular changes that are approved by the KCTCS Board of Regents. 

Accreditation Liaison

In the role of Accreditation Liaison, this individual communicates with the college president and the appropriate Commission on College staff regarding the status of each substantive change notification/approval request. The Liaison is responsible for compiling any required notification/approval request documentation, and for ensuring each notification/approval request is submitted within the prescribed timeframe. The Accreditation Liaison is also responsible for providing professional development to the institution’s leadership, faculty, and staff about the SACSCOC substantive change process, the GCTC substantive change policy and procedure, and for notifying the campus of any updates to the SACSCOC or GCTC substantive change policy. The Accreditation Liaison notifies the Director of Financial Aid of any pending substantive change submissions to the Commission on Colleges. Responsibilities also include maintaining the electronic records system used to disseminate information about substantive change notification/approval.

Academic Deans, Associate Vice President of Academic Services (e-Learning), Director of Early College Initiatives

All are responsible for ensuring all required approvals and notifications are received prior to scheduling or marketing courses or programs that require substantive change. The leaders are to notify the Provost/ Accreditation Liaison, at the time the program planning process begins, normally 9-18 months prior to the implementation of a substantive change. In regards to scheduling of courses, Academic Deans, Associate Vice President of Academic Services (eLearning) and the Director of Early College Initiatives are responsible for monitoring their proposed schedule of classes and reporting to the Provost/Accreditation Liaison any schedule changes that reflect the SACSCOC definition of substantive change and which might trigger the need to notify and/or seek approval from the Commission on Colleges.

Associate Vice President of Workforce Solutions

The Associate Vice President of Workforce Solutions monitors and approves the proposed schedule of for-credit workforce classes and reports to the Provost/Accreditation Liaison any schedule changes that conform to the SACSCOC definition of substantive change and which might trigger the need to notify and/or seek approval from the Commission on Colleges.

Director of Financial Aid

The Director of Financial Aid is responsible for assessing substantive changes that may require Department of Education (DOE) approval, submitting proposed changes to DOE for approval, keeping the Provost/Accreditation Liaison apprised of the approval process.

President

The President is responsible for the overall administration of the college. Along with the college faculty, the President is responsible for the development and implementation of an instructional program commensurate with the purposes of a comprehensive community and technical college. The President is responsible for the enforcement of this policy and procedure.

Procedures

All Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) policies and procedures related to curriculum will be followed.

1.) Academic program initiation, closure, or modification

1.1) New Degree, Diploma, or Certificate Programs

New degree, diploma, or certificate programs must follow KCTCS and Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) policies and procedures. The criteria below should be used to determine if the new program is a significant departure from existing programs:

  • What previously approved programs does the institution offer that are closely related to the new program and how are they related?
  • Will significant additional equipment or facilities be needed?
  • Will significant additional financial resources be needed?
  • Will a significant number of new courses be required?
  • Will a significant number of new faculty members be required?
  • Will significant additional library/learning resources be needed?

If the new program is not a significant departure from existing programs, no SACSCOC notification is required. New programs that are a significant departure from existing programs require a Prospectus. 

Type of Change SACS-COC Notification Required SACS-COC Prior Approval Required? Time Frame for Contacting SACS-COC
SACS-COC 
Required Documentation GCTC Time Frame for Notifying Accreditation Liaison
Initiating a new program-program is not significantly different No No N/A N/A

May 1 for fall start

 

October 1 for spring start

Initiating a new program-program is significantly different Yes Yes

January 1 for fall start 

July 1 for spring start

Prospectus

September 1 for fall start

 

March 1 for spring start

1.2) Initiating a Certificate Program at Employer’s Request and on Short Notice

These programs are typically offered at the request of an employer, either on-campus or at the workplace. Offering previously approved certificate programs at an unapproved off-campus site requires approval of the site prior to implementation. Similarly, offering a certificate program that is a significant departure from existing approved certificate programs, either on- or off-campus, requires approval of the program prior to implementation. SACSCOC will accept a modified prospectus consisting of the name of the certificate, date of implementation, the complete physical address of the off-campus site (if applicable), a faculty roster, a discipline-specific description of library/learning resources, a description of physical facilities, and descriptions of courses to be offered at the site. The Vice President of Workforce Solutions will notify the Provost/ Accreditation Liaison of the need to initiate certificate programs for workforce development.

Type of Change SACS-COC Notification Required SACS-COC Prior Approval Required? Time Frame for Contacting SACS-COC
SACS-COC 
Required Documentation GCTC Time Frame for Notifying Accreditation Liaison
Initiating a certificate program at employer’s request and on short notice at a new off-campus site (previously approved program) No Yes

January 1 for fall start

 

July 1 for spring start

Modified prospectus

November 15 for fall start

March 15 for spring start

Initiating a certificate program at an employer’s request and on short notice that is a significant departure from previously approved programs Yes Yes

January 1 for fall start 

July 1 for spring start

Modified prospectus

November 15 for fall start

March 15 for spring start

1.3) Closure of Degree, Diploma, or Certificate Programs

As soon as the decision is made to close an academic program Provost /Accreditation Liaison will notify SACSCOC.

Type of Change SACS-COC Notification Required SACS-COC Prior Approval Required? Time Frame for Contacting SACS-COC
SACS-COC 
Required Documentation GCTC Time Frame for Notifying Accreditation Liaison
Closing an existing program Yes Yes

Immediately following the decision to close the program.

Notification letter detailing the Teach-out Plan

Immediately following the decision to close the program.

1.4) Change in Credential Level

The Commission on Colleges does not require notification or approval if an existing diploma/certificate program adds an AAS degree option. If GCTC were to add a credential higher than the Associate degree, notification and approval are required. If the institution were to initiate a level change, the Provost/ Accreditation Liaison would submit an application for a Level Change. 

Type of Change SACS-COC Notification Required SACS-COC Prior Approval Required? Time Frame for Contacting SACS-COC
SACS-COC 
Required Documentation GCTC Time Frame for Notifying Accreditation Liaison
Initiating a program credential level change (Example: Adding an AAS option to an existing diploma/ certificate program. No No N/A N/A N/A
Initiating an institutional credential level change (Example: Adding a Bachelor’s degree) Yes Yes 12 months

Application for Level Change (Due dates: March 15 or September 1)

6 months prior to SACS-COC submission (18 months prior to implementation)

1.5) Substantial Increase or Decrease in the Number of Credit Hours Awarded for Successful Completion of a Program

Significant changes in program length are those with noticeable impact on the program’s completion time. Program coordinators should notify the Provost as soon as the decision has been made to substantially increase or decrease the number of credit hours required to complete a program. The Provost/Accreditation Liaison would submit a modified prospectus. 

Type of Change SACS-COC Notification Required SACS-COC Prior Approval Required? Time Frame for Contacting SACS-COC
SACS-COC 
Required Documentation GCTC Time Frame for Notifying Accreditation Liaison
Significantly increasing or decreasing the number of credit hours required to complete a program Yes Yes 6 months prior to implementation Modified prospectus As soon as the decision has been made to substantially increase or decrease the number of credit hours required to complete program.

2.) Off-campus site initiation, relocation, closure, or modification of courses/programs offered

A list of off-campus sites is available on GCTC Office of Knowledge Management Team-Site Off-campus sites fall into one of three categories based upon the percent of a credential offered at the site:

  1. 1-24% of a credential offered, 
  2. 25-49% of a credential offered, and 
  3. 50-100% of a credential offered.

Off-campus sites are those that are geographically separate from the main campus. An off-campus site is one in which site- based/classroom group instruction takes place. This includes locations at which instruction is offered by distance delivery, but students must be present on-site to access such instruction. High school locations where dual credit instruction is offered are considered off-campus sites. Sites where 1-24% of a credential is offered are not approved by the Commission on Colleges.

2.1) Initiating a New Off-Campus Site

The Vice President of Workforce Solutions, Academic Deans, Associate Vice President of Academic Services (eLearning) and the Director of Early College Initiatives will notify the Provost/Accreditation Liaison at least three months prior to the deadline to notify the Accreditation Liaison of any proposed course offerings at off-campus sites not currently identified on the Office of Knowledge Management Team Site. This step is required because adding a single course can result in the need to notify or receive approval from SACSCOC prior to implementation. High schools where 1-24% of a credential have previously been offered in a dual-credit format are not SACSCOC approved off-campus sites. Offering 25% or more of a credential at one of these sites would necessitate notifying and/or obtaining SACSCOC approval of the site as a NEW site—even though the College may have been offering dual credit instruction at the location for many years. As a result, extreme forethought should be used when scheduling courses at these locations. The person scheduling the course will request approval from the Provost/Accreditation Liaison by the due date listed in the following table.

Type of Change SACS-COC Notification Required SACS-COC Prior Approval Required? Time Frame for Contacting SACS-COC
SACS-COC 
Required Documentation GCTC Time Frame for Notifying Accreditation Liaison
Offering 1-24% of a credential at a location geographically separate from the main campus. No No N/A N/A

May 1 for Fall start

October 1 for Spring start

Offering 25-49% of a credential at a location geographically separate from the main campus. Yes No Prior to Implementation Notification letter

May 1 for Fall start

October 1 for Spring start

Offering 50-100% of a credential at a location geographically separate from the main campus. Yes Yes

January 1 for fall start

 

July 1 for spring start

Prospectus

August 1 for following fall start

 

March 1 for following spring start

2.2) Moving an Approved Off-Campus Site

This policy applies to moving an approved off-campus site within the same geographic service area. The Commission on Colleges does not define “same geographic service area.” Approved off-campus sites are ones in which 50% or more of a credential are offered. The responsible party informs the Provost/Accreditation Liaison of proposed moves of approved off-campus sites.

Type of Change SACS-COC Notification Required SACS-COC Prior Approval Required? Time Frame for Contacting SACS-COC
SACS-COC 
Required Documentation GCTC Time Frame for Notifying Accreditation Liaison
Moving an approved off- campus site to a new location Yes No Prior to implementation Notification letter

May 1 for Fall start

October 1 for Spring start

2.3) Closing an Approved Off-Campus Site

The responsible party informs the Provost/ Accreditation Liaison of the proposed closure of an approved off-campus site.

Type of Change SACS-COC Notification Required SACS-COC Prior Approval Required? Time Frame for Contacting SACS-COC
SACS-COC 
Required Documentation GCTC Time Frame for Notifying Accreditation Liaison
Closing an approved off-campus site Yes Yes Immediately following the decision to close the site

Notification Letter which includes a Teach-Out Plan

Immediately following the decision to close the site

3.) Direct Assessment/Competency Based Education

Federal regulations define a direct assessment competency-based educational program as an instructional program that, in lieu of credit hours or clock hours as a measure of student learning, uses direct assessment of student learning relying solely on the attainment of defined competencies, or recognizes the direct assessment of student learning by others. The assessment must be consistent with the accreditation of the institution or program using the results of the assessment. The Provost will notify the Accreditation Liaison of this change.

Type of Change SACS-COC Notification Required SACS-COC Prior Approval Required? Time Frame for Contacting SACS-COC
SACS-COC 
Required Documentation GCTC Time Frame for Notifying Accreditation Liaison
Initiating a direct assessment competency-based program Yes Yes

March 15 for June review

September 1 for December review

Screening Form, Notification Letter, and/or Prospectus

January 1 for June review

 

May 15 for December review

4.) Institutional Changes in Mission or Ownership

4.1) Changes in Mission

The Accreditation Liaison serves as the Provost, and as such, is actively involved in the ongoing review of the institution’s mission. Significant changes in mission are those that lead to a fundamental shift in the nature of the institution. Editorial changes in the language of a mission statement are not substantive and need not be reported. The change in mission may dictate a mix of required documentation. The Accreditation Liaison will work with Commission staff in the event the institution significantly alters its mission.

4.2) Changes in Ownership

Procedures for mergers, consolidations, change of ownership, acquisitions, and change of governance, control, form, or legal status are found on the SACSCOC website (http://www.SACS-COC.org/subchg/policy/Mergers.pdf). In the event of an institutional substantive change that meets the criteria outlined in this policy, the Accreditation Liaison will work with the President and Commission staff to complete the required application for change.

5.) Distance Learning

Although distance learning can trigger a substantive change notification requirement, at the current time, delivery of instruction by distance learning format is only required once. Gateway Community and Technical College’s distance learning program was reviewed by the Commission on Colleges as part of its 2012 decennial review.

6.) Other

This document outlines the procedures for addressing substantive changes Gateway Community and Technical College is likely to encounter in the near future. The SACSCOC policy statement on substantive change includes additional policies on substantive changes such as the addition of a branch campus, changing from clock hours to credit hours, and acquiring any program or site from another institution. Because these events are unlikely to occur at GCTC in the immediate future, this document does not include descriptions of the procedures to be used for these events. The Provost/Accreditation Liaison will review the SACS-COC Substantive Change policy statement annually in order to be able to proactively address any needed notification/approval requests that might arise in this area.

Review

The Provost/Accreditation Liaison, Associate Vice President of Workforce Development, Associate Vice President of Academic Services, Academic Deans, Director Early College Initiatives, and Director of Financial Aid will review the policy each May to evaluate the effectiveness of the process and to identify any needed improvements.