Executive Council

Authorizes Release:

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Responsible Area:

Academic Affairs

Review Cycle:

Annually or as required

Last Review:

April 2017

Related Policies and Additional References:


It is the policy of St. Mary’s University to comply with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools- Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) policy on substantive change by reporting substantive changes in a timely manner as required by the SACS-COC policy. The complete SACS-COC Substantive Change Policy Statement is available on the SACS-COC website.

Definition of Substantive Change

According to SACS-COC, a substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. According to their Policy Statement, the following will be considered a substantive change (taken directly from the SACS-COC website):

  1. Any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution
  2. Any change in legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution
  3. The addition of courses or programs that represent a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated
  4. The addition of courses or programs at a degree or credential level above that which in included in institution’s current accreditation or reaffirmation
  5. A change from clock hours to credit hours
  6. A substantial increase in the number of clock or credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program
  7. The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50 percent of an educational program
  8. The establishment of a branch campus
  9. Closing a program, off campus site, branch campus or institution
  10. Entering into a collaborative academic arrangement that includes only the initiation of a dual or joint academic program with another institution
  11. Acquiring another institution or a program or location of another institution
  12. Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution
  13. Entering into a contract by which an entity not legible for Title IV funding offers 25% or more of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs

Responsibility for Reporting Substantive Change

It is the responsibility of St. Mary’s University to report all substantive changes through its SACS-COC Accreditation Liaison based on the SACS-COC’s policy and follow all procedures and timelines as outlined in the SACS-COC policy statement.   Under the universities policies and procedures the types of changes in the university’s programs or operations that would be considered substantive change also require approval by some combination of action by the Academic Council, Executive Council and/or the Board of Trustees of the University. The Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Chairs the Academic Council, is a member of the Executive Council and serves as a resource to the Board of Trustees. Given the importance of compliance with the SACS-COC policy and the integral role of Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs in university operations, unless changed by this policy, the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs shall be the SACS-COC Accreditation Liaison with the responsibility to ensure that substantive change is reported to SACS-COC.

Timelines to be followed

The SACS-COC policy requires that substantive change be reported to SACS-COC in order to comply with SACS-COC policy on substantive change. St. Mary’s University recognizes the timeline necessary in the reporting process. Information on the types of changes and required timelines can be found on the SACS website or by contacting the SACS-COC Accreditation Liaison.

Publishing/Awareness of the St. Mary’s SACS-COC Substantive Change Policy

In order to make the campus aware of the Substantive Change Policy, the policy is published on the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs page of the St. Mary’s Web page (link) and has been emailed to all university personnel.

Reporting Substantive Change

Any possible substantive change for St. Mary’s University should be immediately reported to the SACS Accreditation Liaison in order to determine if the change fits the definition of a substantive change as required by SACS. The SACS Accreditation Liaison will work with SACS-COC personnel to ensure that the correct procedure is followed.

All substantive change activity will be documented in the SACS Accreditation Liaison’s office.

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