Substantive Change Policy

(Updated April 2010)

Lee College will be proactive in ensuring all incidences of substantive changes be reported in a timely manner as required by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools- Commission on Colleges.. The complete SACS-COC Substantive Change Policy Statement can be found online at

Definition and Responsibility
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):

  • 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 at a degree or credential level above that which in included in 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, and
  • The establishment of a branch campus.

It is the responsibility of Lee College through the college liaison to report all substantive changes based on the commission’s policy and follow all procedures and timelines as outlined in the commission’s policy statement.   Such procedures may include

  • notification and approval prior to implementation – in some cases, as much as 12 months prior approval is needed before implementation or
  • only notification prior to implementation – usually requires a simple letter of notification prior to implementation.

Timelines to be followed
SACS TimelinesIn order to comply with SACS-COC policy on substantive change, Lee College recognizes the timeline necessary in the reporting process. Taken directly from the SACS-COC Policy, below are examples and timelines of substantive changes most likely to be of consideration for Lee College. Information on additional types of changes and required timelines can be found on the SACS-COC website or by contacting the SACS-COC Accreditation Liaison of the college.

Ensuring Timely Reporting of Substantive Changes to SACS-COC
The following activities/initiatives are established to ensure the timely reporting of any substantive change.

Since the college liaison takes the lead in reporting all substantive changes, this person will have a presence on specific committees and groups to gain awareness of changes occurring on campus. This includes:

  • Active member of the President’s Executive Council
    • This will address changes related to the mission of the college as well as adding or changing instructional/branch sites.
  • Ad-hoc member of the Curriculum and Academic Affairs Committee
    • This will address significant changes related to curriculum issues such as adding new programs or significant changes to current instructional programs; moving programs to a more advanced level, and other issues related to instruction.

In addition, the SACS Liaison will sign off on the Course Catalog Maintenance Form. This form is required for all new programs of study and also serves as notification of changes in location for programs.

Publishing/Awareness of the Lee College Substantive Change Policy
In order to make the campus aware of the Substantive Change Policy, the policy is published on the SACS-COC page of the Lee College website ( This page was established in the spring, 2010 semester and the campus was notified of the new site by email.

In addition, the Liaison will present the substantive change policy with updates of current notifications to the Instructional Council once each fall and spring semester. This committee includes all instructional chairs and deans of the College and has access to proposed changes as they are recommended. By keeping this group informed and educated on the Substantive Change policy and activities, the College will be more proactive on reporting such changes in a timely manner as required.

Reporting Substantive Change
Any possible Substantive Change for the College should be immediately reported to the SACS-COC liaison in order to determine if the change fits the definition of a substantive change as required by SACS-COC. The SACS-COC 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-COC Accreditation Liaison through a database maintained by the liaison.