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3.4 All Educational Programs

Comprehensive Standard:

3.4.5 The institution publishes academic policies that adhere to principles of good educational practice. These policies are disseminated to students, faculty, and other interested parties through publications that accurately represent the programs and services of the institution. (Academic policies)

Statement of Compliance:   In Compliance.

Narrative:

The University of West Georgia Mission Statement states: "The University of West Georgia seeks to achieve preeminence in providing educational excellence in a personal environment through an intellectually stimulating and supportive community for its students, faculty, and staff". The University establishes good academic practices using the list of essential activities and values, outlined in the institutional mission [1].  

The academic policies of the University can be organized into four groups on the basis of designated scope of influence and the governing body responsible for their oversight and implementation: university-level undergraduate, university-level graduate, college and school-level, and department-level.

The university-level undergraduate academic policies are reviewed by the Academic Policies Committee [2] and approved by the Faculty Senate [3], [4]. The Undergraduate Programs Committee is charged with oversight for undergraduate academic policies [5]. The Graduate Programs Committee is charged with oversight for graduate academic policies [6]. All academic policies, and revisions of and changes to those policies must be approved by the Faculty Senate. The minutes from all Faculty Senate meetings, which include discussion regarding modifications to academic polices as proposed by the Undergraduate or Graduate Academic Programs committees, are available on the webpage of the Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs [7].

The procedures for the approval academic policies within University of West Georgia individual Colleges and Schools, and departments within those Colleges and Schools are set forth in the bylaws of those Colleges and Schools. For example, the Guiding Principles & Procedures manual of the College of Arts & the Humanities specifies to the procedures for revisions to academic policies currently governing the program offerings in the College [8].

The respective faculty are responsible for developing and approving academic policies governing the program offerings within the individual Colleges and Schools, and departments. Department-level academic policies are reviewed by the faculty of that department. For example, the Guiding Principles & Procedures manual of the College of Arts & the Humanities specifies to the faculty committee that is responsible for academic policy oversight which includes the addition of new policies and revisions to all academic policies currently governing the program offerings in the College [8].

In instances where programs are tied to specific accreditation/commision, academic policies are reviewed and approved by outside experts of that discipline. For example, the University of West Georgia College of Education offers teacher certification programs and degrees in K-12 education which must meet the standards of and be approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission [9].

Furthermore, each University academic policy aligns with the procedures governing academic policies set by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Thus, Section 3.0, Academic Affairs, of the Board of Regents Policy Manual provides guidance on academic policies for the institutions within the University System of Georgia [10]. For example, Section 3.6, Creation and Elimination of Academic Programs delineates the particulars for creating a new program, re: "New degree programs ... shall not be added ... unless recommended by the president of the institution concerned, the Chancellor, and the Committee on Academic Affairs, and approved by the Board" and sets the boundaries for a degree offering, re: "Ph.D. programs shall be limited to research universities..." [10].

In accordance with the SACS policy of "Developing Policy and Procedure Documents" [11], the University of West Georgia approves and disseminates all institutional polices in UWG publications and the website in order to ensure accessibility to those affected by them. Moreover, the University complies with the SACS Policy on "Distance and Correspondence Education" [12] by ensuring that academic policies for face-to-face and distance learning students are the same and that they are disseminated effectively to all students [13].

It should be noted that the principle under consideration overlaps with Federal Requirement 4.3 which requires that "(t)he institution makes available to students and the public current academic calendars, grading policies, and refund policies." These policies and many other policies are made available to the constituents affected by them through a number of sources.   Thus, policies (including calendars and policies associated with grading and refunds) are made available to students, faculty, and other interested parties through the following:

* All the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs are available in print upon request; the Student Handbook is also available in print.

In addition to the publications available to interested parties, the University of West Georgia distributes printed materials (mostly brochures [18], [19], [20]) in which policies are delineated. The following process is used to ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of published materials:

  1. The Admissions office develops printed materials on the basis of approved policies.
  2. University Communications and Marketing edits/adds UWG logos and attributes.
  3. The materials are forwarded for approval to the respective division (e.g., the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs reviews and revises as necessary the content related to academics).
  4. University Publications and Printing prepares the materials for dissemination.

 

Supporting Documentation: