Reinhardt University SACSCOC Compliance Certification

3.4.5 Academic Policies

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)

Judgment check box Compliance

Narrative

Reinhardt publishes academic policies in several documents that are regularly reviewed and updated.  As demonstrated in Section 4.3. [1] Reinhardt publishes the academic calendar as well as policies for grading and refunds in its academic catalogs and its official website.

The Reinhardt University official website also includes information for prospective students about admission requirements [2] as well as an introduction to individual degree curricula and faculty. [3] Students may find more detailed information in the academic catalogs, which are also published on the Reinhardt website.

The academic catalogs are updated and published annually by the Registrar’s Office and the Office of Graduate Studies.  As illustrated by their tables of contents, Reinhardt University Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017 [4] and Reinhardt University Graduate Catalog 2016-2017 [5] present policies for admission, academic performance, academic integrity, and general degree completion requirements as well as degree requirements for individual programs.

The academic catalogs are updated annually in consultation with the provost, the school deans, the program coordinators, and faculty senate approvals. Reinhardt publishes the undergraduate catalogs for the past eight years and the graduate catalogs for the past five years (since the graduate catalogs began) on the Academic Catalog web page [6] of its website. As a rule, a student may follow the degree requirements of a catalog published in the year that he or she begins academic work at Reinhardt University.

As its table of contents reveals, the Student Handbook 2016-2017, [7] mostly includes policies for the Student Affairs division concerning residence life and student discipline.  However, students may also find some academic policies—like grade appeals, intellectual property, and library information— in The Student Handbook, which is updated and published annually on the Reinhardt official website. [8]

Information about policies for faculty is available in the Reinhardt University Faculty Handbook 2016-2017 [9] and Appendices. [10]  This document is updated annually and published on Reinhardt’s intranet server, EagleWeb. [11]  As illustrated by their tables of contents, The Faculty Handbook 2016-2017 [12] contains procedures for hiring, promotion, appeals, and university governance, and the Appendices 2016-2017 [13] includes faculty committee descriptions, class administration policies, and performance reviews policies.

Good educational practice for developing academic policies

Reinhardt University has a defined policymaking structure consistent with the principles sound educational practices.  Any new policy or curriculum requirement must be reviewed and approved by several levels involving faculty and administration.  Reinhardt has a set of faculty standing committees and university-wide committees, [14] described in the Faculty Handbook Appendices 2016-2017, that focus on specific areas of academic policies as a part of each committee charge.  They are listed below with a brief policy designation:

Academic Standards, Policies, and Procedures Committee
(policies concerning advisement, registration, scheduling)

Academic Programs and Curriculum Committee
(policies concerning curriculum and academic courses and programs)

Institutional Effectiveness Committee
(policies concerning assessment of faculty and administrators)

Faculty Development Committee
(policies concerning professional development, like grants and sabbaticals)

Learning Environment Committee
(policies concerning educational resources like the library and technology)

Student Life Committee
(policies concerning residence life, counseling, health, food services,
public safety)

General Education Committee
(policies concerning the general education curriculum and its assessment)

Although most faculty committees include at least one ex officio staff member, the university-wide committees include a balance of faculty and staff, like the following:

Athletic Advisory Council
(policies concerning scheduling for student athletes, academic standards)

Title IX Committee
(policies concerning Communication and updating of the University’s Title IX
policies)

These committees have scheduled meetings twice a semester to conduct business, including any policy reviews. In addition, a committee may have a special called meeting as necessary. A policy proposal will often include a discussion of how the policy reflects the University’s mission, comparisons with other regionally accredited institutions, and consultation with professional and accrediting agencies.  Once approved by the faculty committee, a recommendation for a policy amendment, addition, or deletion would then be put on the agenda for the next Reinhardt Faculty Senate meeting.  Once the Faculty Senate approves a policy change, the proposal is sent to the appropriate administrators for review. With the final approval needed, by the President or the Board of Trustees, the policy change is added to the appropriate catalogs and handbooks for dissemination.

As an example, in October 2013, the Academic Standards, Policies and Procedures Committee (ASPPC) examined the policy for the number of times that a student may repeat a course.  The ASPPC presented a policy limiting the number of times to two repeats (three total times taking the course). [15]  The Faculty Senate amended the proposal, adding that a “W” or “withdrawal” from a course would not count as a failure, and approved the proposal. [16] As a follow-up, in April 2014, the ASPPC reported to the Faculty Senate that the Registrar’s Office did not have the software to track the number of times that a student fails a course, so the individual academic advisor would have to keep track of this number. [17] The policy was published in the Undergraduate Academic Catalog 2015-2016. [18]  In September 2015, the ASPPC addressed this policy again.  Because the Registrar’s Office now had the software to track how many times students take a course, the institution set a default limit of two (one repeat). For the second repeat (third time) the student would have to have a manual override. For the override, the ASPPC presented to the Faculty Senate an “Advising Interview Form for Repeating Courses a Second Time” [19] that documents the student’s consultation with the academic advisor and plan to approach the course differently.  The “Advising Interview Form” now published in the Faculty Handbook Appendices 2016-2017. [20]

For a second example, in spring semester 2015, the Academic Standards, Policies and Procedures Committee (ASPPC) reviewed and recommended a policy for defining an online course, which included a review of definitions found at other accredited two- and four- year colleges. [21] The Faculty Senate approved the policy, but the discussion pointed out that a definition for a hybrid course would still be needed. [22]  After the policy received administrative approval, [23] it was included in the Faculty Handbook Appendices in 2015-2016.  Then in spring semester 2016, the ASPPC presented a proposal for a definition of a hybrid course, [24] which was approved by the Faculty Senate. [25]  Since the policy for defining a hybrid course has also received administrative approval, it has been added to the Faculty Handbook Appendices 2016-2017. [26]

For a third example, in 2015-2016, the General Education Task Force, a subcommittee of the General Education Committee, reviewed and revised the general education curriculum and rationale for professional studies programs, including the transfer credit policy. At this point, students in adult degree-completion programs were required to complete 36 semester credit hours of general education courses and might request transfer credit for up to 36 semester credit hours of “free electives.”  This policy allowed adult students to possibly receive lower-level elective credits for previous course work that did not align with Reinhardt’s courses. The General Education Task Force recommended that the maximum number of “free electives” be reduced to 30 semester credits.  A problem remained about the quality of transfer courses, since some adult students had course work at technical colleges.  The General Education Task Force consulted the external policy statements, “The Quality and Integrity of Undergraduate Degrees” (2011) from SACSCOC, [27] and the “Joint Statement on the Transfer and Award of Credit” (2001) from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. [28] As a result, the 2016 Professional Studies General Education proposal [29] provides guidelines for “free electives”:

These credit hours may include 1) previously earned academic credits for courses that rise above the level of basic skills or training experiences, and that may be applied toward a degree at a regionally accredited institution, 2) elective courses, taken from Reinhardt University’s offerings, to explore a variety of fields and to develop a body of knowledge that might enhance career potential and advancement, and 3) alternative forms of credit.  Alternative forms of credit may include verified, specialized technical expertise gained through military service or professional certification/licensure, formal skill testing through recognized testing services, or experiential learning.

Transfer credits from technical colleges must be “previously earned academic credits for courses that rise above the level of basic skills or training experiences, and that may be applied toward a degree at a regionally accredited institution.”  This revision was sent to the Academic Programs and Curriculum Committee (APCC) for review.  The APCC presented it to the Faculty Senate in November 2016 [29] and it was approved for the Undergraduate Academic Catalog 2017-2018.

Conclusion

Reinhardt University 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.

 

Supporting Documents

[1] Section 4.3

[2] Undergraduate Admissions website

[3] Academics Website

[4] Reinhardt University Undergraduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, Table of Contents

[5] Reinhardt University Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, Table of Contents

[6] Academic Catalog website

[7] Student Handbook 2016-2017, Table of Contents

[8] Student Handbook website

[9] Faculty Handbook 2016-2017

[10] Faculty Handbook Appendices 2016-2017

[11] Intranet page with Faculty Handbooks

[12] Faculty Handbook 2016-2017, Table of Contents

[13] Faculty Handbook Appendices 2016-2017, Table of Contents

[14] Faculty Committee descriptions, Faculty Handbook Appendices 2016-2017, pp.  3-6

[15] ASPPC Proposal for Repeating Courses, October 2013

[16] Faculty Senate Minutes, November 2013

[17] Faculty Senate Minutes, April 2014

[18] Repeating a Course, Reinhardt University Graduate Academic Catalog 2015-2016, p. 49

[19] ASPPC Presentation for an Advising Form for Repeating a Course, September 2015

[20] “Advising Form for Repeating a Course,” Faculty Handbook Appendices 2016-2017

[21] ASPPC Proposal: Definition of an online course, January 2015

[22] Faculty Senate Minutes, February 10, 2015

[23] Administrative approval for definition of an online course

[24] ASPPC Proposal:  Definition of a hybrid course, April 2016

[25] Faculty Senate Minutes, April 2016

[26] Definitions for online and hybrid courses in the Faculty Handbook Appendices 2016-2017

[27] “The Quality and Integrity of Undergraduate Degrees” (2011) from SACSCOC

[28] “Joint Statement on the Transfer and Award of Credit” (2001) from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), the American Council on Education, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation

[29] Professional Studies Programs Revision 2016