IIA. Substantive Change Policy and Procedures

Substantive Change Policy and Procedure 
Rhodes College

Approved by the President and the Executive Staff on 3/6/13.

Rhodes College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges (SACS COC) and all potential substantive changes – whether proposed by students, faculty, staff, or Board of Trustees – must be discussed with and reviewed by the SACS COC Accreditation Liaison, who is appointed by the Rhodes College President. It is the responsibility of the SACS COC Accreditation Liaison to ensure that potential substantive changes are reported to, and approved by the SACS COC, prior to implementation.

The purpose of this Policy and Procedures document is to comply with the Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions of the Commission on Colleges, Policy Statement, Institutional Obligations, Item #2, that “Member institutions are required to have a policy and procedure to ensure that all substantive changes are reported to the Commission in a timely fashion” (p. 1).

What is a substantive change? 
Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution. Under federal regulations, substantive change includes:

  • Any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution
  • Any change in legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution
  • 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
  • The addition of courses or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from that which is included in the institution’s current accreditation or reaffirmation.
  • A change from clock hours to credit hours
  • A substantial increase in the number of clock or credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program
  • 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.
  • The establishment of a branch campus
  • Closing a program, off-campus site, branch campus or institution
  • Entering into a collaborative academic arrangement that includes only the initiation of a dual degree program or a joint degree program with another institution
  • Acquiring another institution or a program or location of another institution
  • Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution
  • Entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25% or more of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs

What are the procedures for reporting substantive change? 

SACS COC has identified three procedures for addressing the different types of substantive changes. These include:

  • Procedure One – for the review of substantive changes requiring notification and approval prior to implementation,
  • Procedure Two – for the review of substantive changes requiring only notification prior to implementation, and
  • Procedure Three – for closing a program, site, branch campus or institution.

The different types of substantive change, the specific procedure to be used for each, their respective approval notification requirements, and their reporting time lines are included in the document “Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions of the Commission on Colleges - Policy Statement” located on pages 6-9 athttps://sacscoc.org/pdf/081705/SubstantiveChange.pdf.

Procedures for the institutional changes such as mergers, acquiring or adding programs, or changes in governance or legal status can be found in a separate document, “Mergers, Consolidations, Change of Ownership, Acquisitions, and Change of Governance, Control, Form, or Legal Status.” at https://sacscoc.org/pdf/081705/Mergers.pdf.

The initiation or revision of programs not offered for academic credit and that are not eligible for federal financial aid does not require reporting: however, such programs are subject to review at the time of reaffirmation.

Identifying and reporting substantive change:
The President is responsible for:

  • Submitting substantive change notification letters and associated documentation to the President of the SACS COC and providing a copy of the letters and documentation to the Accreditation Liaison


  • Designating the Accreditation Liaison as his representative to submit substantive change notification letters and associated documentation to the President of the SACS COC

The President and Vice Presidents are responsible for:

  • Informing relevant personnel under their supervision about the existence of the SACS COC Policy on Substantive Change and the need to check with the Accreditation Liaison regarding any and all significant changes in policy to determine if they meet the criteria for a substantive change as defined in the policy
  • Consulting with the College’s SACS COC Accreditation Liaison regarding questions about substantive changes within their divisions
  • Providing sufficient time to notify the SACS COC prior to the implementation of any changes
  • Assisting with the writing of appropriate documentation and notification of substantive changes as needed by the SACS COC

The SACS COC Accreditation Liaison is appointed by the President and is responsible for:

  • Staying up to date with the SACS COC Substantive Change Policy Statement
  • Serving as the contact person and communication liaison between SACS COC staff and the College regarding substantive change matters
  • Meeting with the President and Vice Presidents yearly to review the policy and planned initiatives
  • Working with the appropriate Vice President to develop a plan of action and timeline for any substantive change actions requiring approval from the SACS COC
  • Preparing substantive change prospectus in collaboration with the appropriate administrators and faculty
  • Submitting substantive change notification letters and associated documentation to the President of the SACS COC as requested by the President
  • Maintaining a database of substantive changes, initiatives, action plans and their status