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Phone  850.599.8316
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FAMU SACSCOC Office
500 Gamble Street
Sybil C. Mobley School of Business and Industry Room 205 South Wing
Tallahassee, Fl 32307
 
 

Procedures on Reporting Substantive Changes

INTRODUCTION

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) accredits Florida A&M University.  The SACSCOC is responsible for reviewing all major institutional changes that 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 the University to follow the Substantive Change Procedures of the Commission and inform the Commission of such change in accord with those procedures.  Substantive change is defined as a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution.  The University must report “substantive changes” to its major accrediting body, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).  In some cases, the University need only notify SACSCOC of a substantive change.  In many cases, however, approval prior to the implementation of the program must be acquired from SACSCOC.     

If the University fails to follow SACSCOC’s substantive change policy and its procedures, the accreditation of the University may be placed in jeopardy, the University’s case may be referred to the Commission for the imposition of a sanction, or the University may lose its Title IV funding or be required by the U.S. Department of Education to reimburse it for money received by the University for unreported substantive changes.

 

NOTIFICATION AND/OR APPROVAL PROCEDURES

SACSCOC notification and/or approval cannot occur until all internal Florida A&M University approvals have been secured.

Substantive Change Reporting Procedures

Florida A&M University welcomes and encourages the expansion of academic opportunities through the development and offering of programs and/or courses offered off-campus and via other distance learning mechanisms.
 
It is required that University Regulations 4.005 and 4.010, Authorization and Termination of Academic Programs and Authorization of Programs Majors and Minors, respectively, are strictly adhered to, so as to ensure compliance with SACSCOC Substantive Change requirements as stated in Comprehensive Standard 3.12.1.

SACSCOC 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 FAMU SACSCOC Office and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness early in the process for an unofficial determination of what category of change the proposal falls under.  Although only SACSCOC can make an official determination of the category of a change, the FAMU SACSCOC Office will facilitate the process by assessing the change internally and coordinating all necessary communication with SACSCOC.

The SACSCOC policy is as follows:
The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits an entire institution and its programs and services, wherever they are located or however they are delivered. It is responsible for reviewing all substantive changes that occur between an institution’s decennial reviews to determine whether or not the change has affected the quality of the total institution and to assure the public that all aspects of the institution continue to meet defined standards.  

In addition, the Commission on Colleges is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an accrediting agency whose accreditation enables its member institutions to seek eligibility to participate in Title IV programs. To maintain its recognition with the U.S. Department of Education and in accordance with CFR 34, Section 602.22, the Commission on Colleges must include procedures in its policies requiring prior approval of many institutional substantive changes before each change can be included in the agency's previous grant of accreditation to the institution.
 
The three procedures for addressing the different types of substantive changes:

  1. Procedure One for the Review of Substantive Changes Requiring Notification and Approval Prior to Implementation
  2. Procedure Two for the Review of Substantive Changes Requiring Only Notification Prior to Implementation
  3. Procedure Three for the Review and Approval of Consolidations/Mergers

Types of Change

Procedure

Prior Approval Required

Prior Notification Required

Time Frame for Contacting COC

Initiating coursework or programs at a more advanced level than currently approved

1

Yes

Yes

12 months 

Expanding at current degree level (significant departure from current programs)

1

Yes

Yes

6 months

Initiating programs at a lower degree level

1

Yes

Yes

6 months

Initiating a branch campus

1

Yes 

Yes

6 months

Initiating Off-campus sites…

…Student can obtain 50 percent or more credits toward program

…Student can obtain 25-49 percent of credit

… Student can obtain 24 percent or less

 

 

1

 

2

 

N/A

 

 

Yes

 

No

 

N/A

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

N/A

 

 

6 months

 

Prior to implementation

N/A

Adding significantly different programs at an approved site (only if programs are currently approved)

No

Yes

Prior to implementation

Initiating distance learning...

...Offering 50 percent or more of program (Subsequent programs do not need reporting unless they are significant departures from initially approved program(s).

...Offering 25-49 percent

 

...Offering 24 percent or less

 

 

1

 

 

2

 

N/A

 

 

Yes

 

 

No

 

N/A

 

 

Yes

 

 

Yes

 

N/A

 

 

6 months

 

 

Prior to implementation

N/A

Initiating programs/courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium

2

No

Yes

Prior to implementation

Initiating a merger/consolidation

3

Yes

Yes

6 months

Altering significantly the educational mission of the institution

1

Yes

Yes

6 months

Relocating a campus

2

No

Yes

Prior to implementation

Changing governance, ownership, control, or legal status

1

Yes

Yes

6 months

Altering significantly the length of a program

1

Yes

Yes

6 months

Initiating degree completion programs

1

Yes

Yes

6 months

Closing an institution/program; initiating (see Commission Policy)

1

Yes

Yes

6 months

  *Chart taken from SACSCOC’ Policy Statement on Substantive Change dated January 2007

 

 In accordance with the SACSCOC policy summarized in the above chart, the following actions should be taken as appropriate.

1.  FOLLOW INTERNAL APPROVAL PROCESSES
Follow the internal University procedures for approval of changes.  If contemplating a new academic program (degree program, majors, minors, concentrations, certificates, etc), review University Regulations 4.005 regarding Authorization and Termination of Academic Programs, and 4.010 regarding , Authorization of Programs Majors, Minors and Off-campus Programs, and contact the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.  If contemplating offering an existing academic program at a new site, review University Regulations 4.010 and contact the Office of Continuing Education.

Once the internal procedures have been followed and approvals obtained, prepare a notification of changes and/or a substantive change prospectus as appropriate to be submitted to SACS following the guidelines below:

2.  SUBMIT NOTIFICATION OF CHANGE/NEW ACTIVITY TO THE FAMU SACSCOC OFFICE– 
See the chart for deadlines for submitting to SACSCOC.  The draft notification should be submitted to the FAMU SACS Office at least two months prior to the date it is due to SACSCOC. 

  • The unit initiating the change must draft a written “Notification Letter” detailing the change and any required SACS-COC documentation.  Contact the FAMU SACS Office for the “Notification Letter” and any other information needed. The letter must, ultimately, be signed by the President.  The Provost along with the SACSCOC Reaffirmation Office and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness will provide information, review the submission, and provide feedback.  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))
  • The FAMU SACSCOC Office will provide background information for this process.

  

OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION FROM SACSCOC IS REQUIRED PRIOR TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ANY PROGRAM.

For additional information on types of substantive change, substantive change visits, and budget considerations, please review SACSCOC’ Policy Statement on Substantive Change (www.sacscoc.org - Substantive Changes) or contact the SACSCOC Office and Office of Institutional Effectiveness.