Comprehensive Standards 3.13

The institution complies with the policies of the Commission on Colleges. (Policy compliance) 

3.13.1 Accrediting Decisions of Other Agencies

Applicable Policy Statement
Any institution seeking or holding accreditation from more than one U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting body must describe itself in identical terms to each recognized accrediting body with regard to purpose, governance, programs, degrees, diplomas, certificates, personnel, finances, and constituencies, and must keep each institutional accrediting body apprised of any change in its status with one or another accrediting body.

Judgement: Compliant

Narrative: 

The two U.S. Department of Education accrediting bodies that recognize the University of South Carolina Upstate (USC Upstate) are the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). For each of these accreditations the submitted self-studies and reporting describes the institution in identical terms.

Section I-A of the CCNE Self Study 2011 demonstrates the congruence of the Mary Black School of Nursing mission, goals, and student outcomes with those established by USC Upstate. Identical terms are used to describe the institution in the CCNE self-study as are used for SACS/COC. The final edits and formatting of this self-study will be completed in the Fall of 2011 and available for review by the onsite visit team.

The University mission is also described in the same terms in the USC Upstate Institutional NCATE Report as for SACS/COC. The NCATE 2009 and 2010 Annual Report keeps the accrediting body apprised of any substantive change. For each accrediting body USC Upstate is described in identical terms within the reporting format required.

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3.13.2 Collaborative Academic Arrangements: Policy and Procedures

Member institutions are responsible for notifying and providing SACSCOC with signed final copies of agreements governing their collaborative academic agreements (as defined in this policy). These arrangements must address the requirements set forth in the collaborative academic arrangements policy and procedures. For all such arrangements, SACSCOC-accredited institutions assume responsibility for (1) the integrity of the collaborative academic arrangements, (2) the quality of credits recorded on their transcripts, and (3) compliance with accreditation requirements.
 

Judgement: Compliant

Narrative: 

Coursework offered abroad in international universities is reviewed and evaluated by USC Upstate professors and their related chairpersons and/or academic deans to ensure that the level and content of work meets academic requirements as stipulated by each department. The international academic agreement procedure guides the development of collaborative arrangements.

Coursework is reviewed only from institutions that are duly accredited by their local authorities and are approved by national governing boards resident in the country. In many cases, USC Upstate faculty members observe onsite the delivery of course content to insure that the academic level is consistent with departmental requirements. The international agreements provide the parameters for transfer of relevant University coursework.

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3.13.3 Complaint Procedures Against the Commission or Its Accredited Institutions

Each institution is required to have in place student grievance and public complaint policies and procedures that are reasonable, fairly administered, and well-publicized. (See FR 4.5). The Commission also requires, in accord with federal regulations, that each institution maintains a record of complaints received by the institution. This record is made available to the Commission upon request. This record will be reviewed and evaluated by the Commission as part of the institution’s decennial evaluation.
 

Judgement: Compliant

Narrative:

The University of South Carolina Upstate (USC Upstate) takes seriously its responsibilities as an institution of public trust, and we invite comments from all of our constituencies. Toward that end, a process for making public complaints is easily accessible from our SACS website. Any complaints received are catalogued in the Chancellor’s Office and are available for inspection upon request.

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3.13.4 Distance and Correspondence Education

At the time of review by the Commission, the institution must demonstrate that the student who registers in a distance or correspondence education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the credit by verifying the identity of a student who participates in class or coursework by using, at the option of the institution, methods such as (1) a secure login and pass code, (2) proctored examinations, and (3) new or other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying student identification.The institution makes it clear in writing that (1) it has processes that protect student privacy and (2) it notifies students of any projected additional student charges associated with verification of student identity at the time of registration or enrollment. 

Judgement: Compliant

Narrative: 

The University of South Carolina Upstate (USC Upstate) is committed to safeguarding academic integrity and adheres to guidelines that ensure the identity of students participating in courses regardless of delivery method. The secure data management infrastructure of USC Upstate consists of four main systems each requiring independent logins created and maintained by students. These systems consist of (a) network login (wired/wireless); (b) Visual Information Processing (VIP) intranet data system; (c) Blackboard course content management system; and (d) Microsoft Outlook Live student email system. Each of these systems, working in tandem, provides assurance of network security including student identity.

Blackboard is the platform for delivering all course content material. Faculty take full advantage of the built-in security features within Blackboard (SafeAssign, Course Statistics, Test/Survey Manager, etc.) ensuring student identity and academic integrity.

In addition to the aforementioned security measures, a Testing Center is provided on the Spartanburg campus. The Testing Center is used to provide (a) on-site proctored exams for online classes; (b) make-up exams; and (c) a space for small groups to conduct on-line activities. Faculty may elect to administer examinations through the Testing Center.

Students, upon admission to the University, have access to policies regarding student privacy (FERPA Policy) and academic integrity. USC Upstate adheres to strict protocol ensuring the identity of students participating in distance education courses.USC Upstate has no additional student charges to verify identity.

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3.13.5 Reaffirmation of Accreditation and Subsequent Reports

a. An institution includes a review of its distance learning programs in the Compliance Certification. 

Judgement: Compliant

Narrative: 

The University of South Carolina Upstate (USC Upstate)operationally defines distance education as courses that are delivered entirely through an off-campus medium using a teaching modality that is independent of time and place and comprised of the most up-to-date pedagogical strategies and innovative technologies to engage the learner.

In preparation for compliance certification, a review of all distance education programs was conducted. USC Upstate offers a variety of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels through distance education with the majority of the identified coursework in the table delivered as blended courses. However, due to the nature of coding in the USC System, it was unclear how many courses are truly offered as per the stated definition. USC Upstate adopted the coding system to alert students to the potential that some of the coursework may be offered using alternative technologies. As demonstrated in the table, the majority of the coursework offered in an alternative format was conducted at the level of general education coursework. While the majority of academic programs were not originally designed to be offered in alternative formats, the reality of today’s students’ desires for flexibility and quality drive the need to offer the courses using a variety of technologies.
Currently, only two programs are entirely offered through distance education. The Mary Black School of Nursing offers the final two years of the RN-BSN degree program through distance education and the School of Education offers its graduate programs through distance education. These programs received prior SACS approval. All other colleges and schools at USC Upstate offer courses through distance education as determined by the individual needs of the unit.

Each degree program at USC Upstate is evaluated annually through an established Program Assessment process (USC Upstate Program Assessment Policies and Procedures). The purpose of program assessment is to produce meaningful feedback for the academic unit on the performance of its students. Program assessment reports are submitted October 1 to the Coordinator of Institutional Effectiveness and Compliance by assigned Assessment Coordinators from each unit every academic year. A minimum of two reviewers evaluate, rate, and provide feedback for each program report using an established rubric. Programs are rated across eight report categories as “Established”, “Adequate”, “Developing”, “Underdeveloped”, or “No Data”. Programs receiving a rating of “Developing” or below in any category must revise and resubmit until all categories are rated “Adequate”or above.

Faculty members teaching distance education courses are evaluated in the same manner as all other faculty members in accordance with theFaculty Manual. All faculty are provided professional development opportunities in best practices and effective teaching pedagogy appropriate to delivery method. These opportunities are offered through collaborative partnerships among the Center for Teaching Excellence, Department of Learning Technologies, and Office of Distance Education. Effective August 15, 2011, all newly-hired faculty were required to participate in a “Teaching Online”initial certification course prior to teaching distance education courses.The aforementioned measures ensure that all programs are reviewed systematically and courses taught by USC Upstate faculty contain the same rigor and meet the same standards regardless of delivery method.

Semester  Total Number of Courses Offered  Number of Distance Education Courses  Percentage of DE Courses at USC Upstate 

Spring 2011 

1319

118

8.95%

Fall 2011 

1434

117

8.16%

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b. If an institution is part of a system or corporate structure, a description of the system operation (or corporate structure) is submitted as part of the Compliance Certification for the decennial review. The description should be designed to help members of the peer review committees understand the mission, governance, and operating procedures of the system and the individual institution’s role within that system. 

Judgement: Compliant

Narrative: 

The University of South Carolina Upstate (USC Upstate) is a senior campus of the University of South Carolina (USC) System. As a senior campus we are separately accredited. USC serves the state from its flagship Columbia campus, three senior campuses, and four regional campuses. The USC System is committed to serving the citizens of South Carolina through its academic excellence and outreach. It has forged a variety of cooperative relationships with other academic institutions and health systems throughout the state and a number of international connections for academic exchange and collaborative research.

The history of USC Upstate is a chronicle of remarkable development. In 1967, the University was founded in response to efforts undertaken by G.B. Hodge, MD, together with fellow members of the Spartanburg County Commission on Higher Education, and a remarkably strong founding faculty, primarily to avert a serious health care labor shortage crisis when Spartanburg General Hospital announced plans to eliminate its diploma program for registered nurses. A citizen's committee investigated the situation and ultimately requested that Spartanburg be included in the USC System. The Spartanburg Regional Campus, as it was first known, opened its doors in the fall of 1967 to 177 students on the first floor of the Spartanburg General Hospital nursing residence.

Enrollment continued to increase, which resulted in the school becoming a four-year university in 1975 and being renamed the University of South Carolina Spartanburg. During the next 20 years, the campus began to take physical shape with the construction of additional academic buildings, enrollment continued to grow and degree offerings were expanded.In 1974 Spartanburg became a senior campus and was empowered by the Board of Trustees to award baccalaureate degrees.As a senior comprehensive public institution, the University’s primary responsibilities are to offer baccalaureate education to the citizens of the Upstate of South Carolina and to offer selected master’s degrees in response to regional demand.

In the 1990s, a metropolitan mission was developed for the institution and a 10-year strategic master plan for the campus was implemented. The University's numerous partnerships with public and private corporations and other educational institutions, coupled with the mission to offer baccalaureate education to the citizens of the Upstate of South Carolina, led to a name change. On June 30, 2004, with USC Board of Trustees approval, USCS changed its name to the University of South Carolina Upstate.

The USC System organization chart, demonstrates the Chancellor of USC Upstate reports directly to the USC System President. No other administrator at USC is directly responsible at theSystem level. Policies and procedures are developed system-wide with selected procedures unique to our campus.

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3.13.6 Separate Accreditation for Units of a Member Institution

a. All branch campuses related to the parent campus through corporate or administrative control (1) include the name of the parent campus and make it clear that its accreditation is dependent on the continued accreditation of the parent campus and (2) are evaluated during reviews for institutions seeking candidacy, initial membership, or reaffirmation of accreditation. All other extended units under the accreditation of the parent campus are also evaluated during such reviews.
 

Judgement: Not Applicable

b. For an extended unit to be eligible for accreditation as a separate institution, it is located in and chartered or incorporated within one of the eleven states, Latin America, or other international sites approved by the Commission on Colleges. Furthermore, if the institution is part of a system covering more than one accrediting region, the locus of administrative control for the institution is within the geographic jurisdiction of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. 

Judgement: Not Applicable

c. If the Commission on Colleges determines that an extended unit is autonomous to the extent that the control over that unit by the parent or its board is significantly impaired, the Commission may direct that the extended unit seek to become a separately accredited institution. A unit which seeks separate accreditation should bear a different name from that of the parent. A unit which is located in a state or country outside the geographic jurisdiction of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and which the Commission determines should be separately accredited or the institution requests to be separately accredited, applies for separate accreditation from the regional accrediting association that accredits colleges in that state or country. 

Judgement: Not Applicable

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