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Institutional Change

Title: Institutional Change Policy
Effective Date: August 30, 2015
Responsible Office: Provost
Last Updated: August 30, 2023 

I. Scope

This policy applies to all departments, schools, programs, institutes, and other units of William & Mary, including the School of Marine Science/Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is twofold: to ensure that institutional changes (1) are communicated to university units that may be involved in or impacted by implementation or continuation of a change, and (2) comply with all relevant internal and external approval and notification requirements.

The procedures described in this policy detail the university’s process for monitoring institutional changes, including those reportable to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). In addition, the procedures enable designated university personnel to coordinate with the originating unit(s) and to identify applicable requirements and provide guidance and support for complying with those requirements. Further, the procedures allow university units to comment on the degree to which implementing and sustaining a proposed change may measurably impact the resources, policies, or processes of that unit.

III. Policy
A. Responsible University Personnel

The Office of Institutional Accreditation & Effectiveness (IAE) is responsible for coordinating external compliance requirements among applicable academic and administrative units, working with other university offices as appropriate for each requirement. IAE also is responsible for managing the procedures described below. This policy does not change otherwise applicable responsibilities for compliance with external requirements.

B. Changes Subject to this Policy

Changes subject to this Policy are described on the Institutional Change (IC) website. In general, this policy applies to institutional changes in academic areas that may reasonably be expected to require involvement or contribution of other units, that may impact the resources or procedures of other units, and/or for which there exist requirements for internal and/or external approval or notification. However, there are several non-academic changes that are subject to this policy, including organizational changes, changes related to off-campus locations, changes to mission, and more. If unsure whether your envisioned change falls within the scope of this policy, contact the Assistant Provost for Institutional Accreditation and Effectiveness.

C. Implementation of Institutional Changes

All institutional units that are responsible for envisioning, planning, and/or executing a change falling under the scope of this policy must usher their change through the Institutional Change review process using the procedures below. No change falling within the scope of this policy can be implemented prior to receiving all required internal and external approvals.

IV. Procedures
A. Pre-Proposal: Envisioning and Announcing a Potential Change

At the time a unit begins to plan or otherwise consider the feasibility of a change that would be subject to this policy, the head of that unit (or his/her designee) should complete an announcement form in the institutional change management platform. This form serves as an initial announcement to all units of a potential change. The unit head/designee should consult the IC Timelines for Approval & Implementation and, based upon the desired implementation date, choose the appropriate Cycle for development and submission. Dates and submission timelines listed within the various Cycles are externally-driven and firm. The Assistant Provost for IAE will review the announcement form and confirm the appropriate timeline.

Units uncertain about whether a contemplated change would be subject to this policy should consult with IAE to determine what action is required.

B. Internal Review: Submitting an Institutional Change Form
  1. Submission of an institutional change form should be completed as soon as approvals internal to the academic unit are completed but no later than the deadline provided in the chosen Cycle.
  2. Institutional change forms undergo a standard iterative review process to describe internal coordination that is necessary and to identify what internal and external requirements are applicable to the change. During the review process, university units indicate what is needed to implement and sustain the change. Working with university units, the originating unit documents how needs/concerns are being addressed.
  3. University units may also comment on any impact of the change on their unit.
  4. When the proposed change is sufficiently developed, the Assistant Provost for Institutional Accreditation & Effectiveness (IAE) notifies the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs that a proposal is ready for the Provost’s review and response.
  5. Throughout the process, IAE and the Office of the Provost collaborate with the originating unit to assure that the proposal complies with all internal and external requirements. 
  6. All proposed institutional changes covered in this policy must undergo IC review and must receive all required approvals before implementation.
C. External Action: Submitting Proposal/Notification to External Agencies
  1. Several types of changes require internal and/or external approvals; see W&M’s Quick Guide to Internal/External Actions. Internal approvals may include committees internal to the department and primary academic unit (school), university officers, and/or the Board of Visitors.  External approvals may include those required by SACSCOC, SCHEV, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), the United States Department of Education (USDOE), and/or specialized accrediting agencies.
  2. Final approval of institutional change forms occurs after approvals required by SACSCOC and SCHEV have been received by IAE. Originating units must check with other University units (such as Financial Aid, deans’ offices for VDOE and/or specialized accrediting agency requirements) to ensure other required external approvals are received.
  3. Proposals and notice to SCHEV and SACSCOC.   The Office of the Provost, working with IAE, is responsible for institutional change submissions to SCHEV. The University’s Institutional Accreditation Liaison for SACSCOC is responsible for submissions to SACSCOC.  The Office of the Provost/IAE will share SCHEV and SACSCOC responses with deans’ offices within the originating school and with members of the university’s Institutional Change Team. Deans’ offices ensure that changes are communicated within their school and that the changes are approved by the USDOE and other federal and state agencies as needed.
  4. Proposals and notices to the VDOE and discipline-specific accrediting agencies. For proposals originating with a school, the originating school is responsible for submissions and other communications about institutional change with the VDOE and discipline-specific accrediting agencies.  The originating school provides copies of such submissions and related communications to IAE and the Office of the Provost per W&M’s Specialized Accreditation Policy.
  5. The appropriate University units shall ensure notifications are made to, and approvals are received from the USDOE and other federal and state agencies. In addition, appropriate University units shall ensure that approved changes are reflected accurately in catalogs, websites and other communications.
D. Record Keeping
IAE, the Office of the Provost, and the originating school or administrative unit maintain records of all approvals and related correspondence regarding institutional change.
VI. Approval & Amendment

This policy was approved by the Provost on August 30, 2015 and revised effective December 20, 2017. Revisions specify more clearly the purpose of the policy and responsible university personnel and clarify procedures for proposing an institutional change and securing appropriate internal and external approvals.

The latest revisions approved by the Executive Leadership Team on August 30, 2023 updated the procedures for proposing an institutional change and securing appropriate internal and external approvals, clarified wording throughout, and updated hyperlinks.

VII. Related Policies & Other Documents