List of SACS complaints

Arun Prasath | Staff

SACS placed UTD under review for eight out of 93 principles over the course of two years. Of these, some were institutional level and others were specifically for the ATEC program.

SACS notified UTD of the complaints in June 2013 and reviewed the materials submitted at the Board of Trustees meeting in December 2013. SACS made a site visit to UTD on April 29, 2014 when they met with ATEC faculty, members from the committee on educational policy, representatives from the undergraduate and graduate council and central administration to review the policies in place.

In the June 2014 Board of Trustees meeting, the ATEC program was cleared on all principles but UTD was asked to submit a second monitoring report April 1 of this year.

The status of some selected complaints is as follows:

  1. Principle 2.8 Faculty
    • Requirements: There are sufficient faculty members within each program. Indicators include faculty to student ratio and number of courses offered.
    • Level: Institutional and ATEC
    • Issues: None
    • Resolution: None needed
    • Cleared on: December 2013
  2. Principle 3.1.1 Institutional Effectiveness: Educational programs
    • Requirements: For each program, faculty members come up with learning outcomes and metrics to measure whether students meet these outcomes or not. Universities have to demonstrate, using data collected over at least three years, that the programs are improving over time.
    • Level: Institutional and ATEC
    • Issues: UTD used to have a three-year reporting cycle for learning outcomes, so that every three years the university would receive data from each program. However, three years was too long a time to touch base with faculty in a fast growing school, said assistant provost Serenity King. At the time of review, UTD had just switched to an annual cycle and did not have sufficient data to prove a continual improvement in its programs, she said. It was also not sufficient for the university to incorporate improvements at the time.
    • Resolution: Two years of data have already been submitted to SACS.
    • Cleared on: ATEC cleared but UTD awaiting decision
  3. Principle 3.4.3. Admission policies
    • Requirements: consistent admission standards into the program
    • Level: ATEC program only
    • Issues: Originally, ATEC was a track under the aesthetics study concentration in Arts and Humanities. When ATEC became its own program, students previously admitted into arts and humanities to the ATEC track were internally transferred to the ATEC program, so current ATEC admission policies did not apply to these students.
    • Resolution: None needed
    • Cleared on: June 2013
  4. Principle 3.4.6 Practices for awarding credit
    • Requirements: Organized consistent structure for number of credit hours to be awarded to courses.
    • Level: Institutional and ATEC
    • Issues: Some course listings, such as independent studies, appeared several times on the transcripts.
    • Resolution: Adding subtitles to independent study courses on transcripts to indicate the different topics covered in each.
    • Cleared on: June 2014
  5. Principle 3.6.1 Post-baccalaureate rigor
    • Requirements: Standards to ensure graduate level courses have higher level of discourse over undergraduate courses.
    • Level: ATEC program only
    • Issues: Classes with the same titles in undergraduate and graduate levels had the same syllabus and discourse level.
    • Resolution: They did not have the same syllabi or requirements. Graduate level courses were more detailed.
    • Cleared on: June 2014
  6. Principle 3.6.2 Graduate curriculum
    • Requirements: The research and topics covered in core courses and research methods was adequate for graduate level.
    • Level: ATEC program only
    • Issues: Undergraduate and graduate courses listed under the same title.
    • Resolution: Two ways undergraduates can take graduate students — fats track programs and concurrent courses where a graduate course is cross-listed with an undergraduate course. Two different syllabi are required and that was already the case.
    • Cleared on: December 2013
  7. Principle 3.6.4 Post-baccalaureate program requirements
    • Requirements: The program has criteria and milestones expected as best practices.
    • Level: Institutional and ATEC
    • Issues: None
    • Resolution: Presence of milestones needed to be demonstrated.
    • Cleared on: June 2014
  8. Principle 3.7.1. Faculty competence
    • Requirements: Faculty should have a terminal degree in their field to be able to teach a graduate level class.
    • Level: ATEC program only
    • Issues: Some faculty members were UTD students that had received their masters through the fast track program. Their transcripts did not list the graduate courses they took as an undergraduate.
    • Resolution: Repeat the graduate level courses taken during undergraduate years in both undergraduate and graduate transcripts.
    • Cleared on: June 2014

ATEC was cleared on all eight at the June 2014 board meeting. However, UTD was asked to submit documents pertaining to 3.1.1.and an additional principle at the institutional level after the June 2014 board meeting.

Principle 3.4.5 Academic policies

  • Requirements: Clearly publish requirements and academic policies of the university.
  • Level: Institutional
  • Issues: Ambiguous language in the undergraduate catalog. In additional to the repeatable course policy, some courses are allowed to repeat for a certain number of times within the curriculum. For example, music majors could take up to nine hours of guitar training. These requirements were being violated in that students were being allowed to take more than the maximum number of hours allowed. In the above example, that would mean that a student could have 12 hours of guitar training on their transcript.
  • Resolution: Ambiguous language was removed from the fall 2014 catalog and the graduate courses have been rewritten for the fall 2015 undergraduate catalog.Faculty members were using an already listed course topic to introduce new courses all through the year because they were allowed to introduce a new course only in the fall semester. So a student that enrolled in a three-credit course on guitar training was not taking the same course again, but a different course in guitar that was listed under an existing course name. This policy has been revised so that faculty members can introduce a new course in all three semesters. The registration system has been revised so that students will not be allowed to register for a course once they have completed the maximum number of credit hours allowed for the course.
  • Cleared on: Awaiting decision

The board will meet June 9 – 11 to review the second monitoring report.

Although UTD might be cleared on the last two principles, it won’t be unrealistic to expect a third and final monitoring report due next year comprising a third year of progress and assessment data for principle 3.1.1, King said.

— From an interview with King

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