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3.4 All Educational Programs

Comprehensive Standard:

3.4.1 The institution demonstrates that each educational program for which academic credit is awarded is approved by the faculty and the administration. (Academic program approval)

Statement of Compliance:   In Compliance.

Narrative:

The process for developing and approving programs at UWG is the following:

All substantive changes, additions, and deletions to the University of West Georgia academic programs go through a rigorous process of evaluation and approval at multiple levels within the institution [1], [2]. First, the Dean, the Department Chair, or the Program Director completes a Modification Request Form which is submitted to the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Office [2].  The Provost’s Office then guides the request through an approval process that involves the faculty and administration across the University.   

Once the relevant college faculty members approve the proposal, the document is submitted to the Undergraduate Programs Committee (UPC) or the Graduate Programs Committee (GPC) [3], [4]. The "UWG Shared Governance Procedures for Modifications to Academic Programs" provides a detailed list of "action items" by the Faculty Senate, the "information items" for the Faculty Senate, the items reviewed by the UPC and GPS, and the items that are reported directly to the office of the Provost [5].

It should be noted that the Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes demonstrate ample evidence of the implementation of academic program changes in accordance with the process described above. For example, the draft minutes of the Faculty Senate Meeting for December 7, 2012 [6] show the results of the work on the action items of Committee I: Undergraduate Programs and the Faculty Senate voting process. The minutes include the approval of academic program changes in the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Sciences and Mathematics, and the School of Nursing. The minutes for the Faculty Senate Meeting for December 9, 2011 show similar action items for Committee I: Undergraduate Programs as do the minutes for the Faculty Senate Meeting for December 3, 2010 [7], [8].

Subsequently, approved proposals are sent to the Faculty Senate, The Faculty Senate is composed of all voting members of the University of West Georgia Faculty [9], the President of the University of West Georgia and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs who are non-voting members, and thirty-nine voting senators who are elected members of the various faculty committees [10]. Once the department, college/school, and the Faculty Senate processes are complete, the final approval is given by the President. Externally, all changes must be submitted to and approved by the Board of Regents and SACS, and any required specialized accrediting body before being implemented [1], [2]. Changes to the core curriculum must also be approved by the University System of Georgia Council on General Education. The minutes and reports of the various faculty committees are kept on the webpages of these faculty committees [10]. The narrative for Comprehensive Standard 3.7.5 provides further detail on the responsibility and authority of University of West Georgia faculty in academic and governance matters.

Once a program is approved at all levels, it is entered in the UWG SACS Assessment Database. This database includes learning outcomes for core curriculum and academic programs as well as the assessment of learning outcomes for each option. The program director reports the results of the assessment form that includes the percentage of students who exceeded, met, or did not meet expectations, "Planned Improvement Type" and "Planned Improvement Comments". The progress of the improvements undertaken is evaluated in the following year and reported in the same manner in the SACS Assessment Database.

It should be noted that student learning outcomes have been established by the University of West Georgia for all delivery settings, including distance learning. Therefore, the assessment of all academic programs that are conducted online is stored in the SACS Assessment Database along with face-to-face programs.

In addition to distance learning, the institution hosts eCore (electronic Core curriculum), a program that allows University System of Georgia (USG) students the opportunity to complete the first two years of collegiate careers and all of the required Common Core Curriculum in a fully online environment [11]. eCore courses are taught entirely online, except for the occasional proctored exam. eCore courses are designed, developed, taught, and maintained by faculty and staff from the University System of Georgia.  Each eCore course has a set of course-level learning outcomes, including one or more that are mapped to the General eCore Curriculum Learning Outcomes [12]. Assessment of the learning outcomes for eCore classes is handled by the eCore team. The quality of the program is ensured through various ways which include the evaluation of student success, the evaluation of professors, and the assessment of learning objectives. Faculty in the eCore program integrate assessment processes in the individual classes.  All assessment results are reported to the Dean of USG eCore.

Supporting Documentation: