Approval Process

Planning Processes for Academics

The centrality of the academic mission and the length of time needed to develop and implement new academic programs and initiatives require a more elaborate process for academic planning. There are two sources for the origin of new academic programs and initiatives: university-wide initiatives coming from the Office of the Provost, and academic program initiatives coming from the departments of the schools and colleges.

New programs require three stages of approval. New courses and changes to courses and programs require only one stage and begin at Stage 3.

In Stage 1, the School/College Initial Proposal (SCIP) (MS Word), for a new program or initiative, presents the basic logic for the program and supplies introductory evidence to support why the new program is needed. This form is developed by a faculty member, chair, or dean and is presented by the dean to the Academic Cabinet in extended session in accordance with the Academic Strategic Planning Cycle. The form is first submitted to the Office of Curricular Support (OCS), which reviews the document to ensure it is complete, then begins tracking the document through the implementation process. OCS submits all forms to the Office of the Provost to place them on the calendar for an upcoming extended meeting of the Academic Cabinet.

An adequate preliminary proposal provides sufficient information upon which to base a decision to proceed or not to proceed with further consideration. The SCIP addresses the following issues:

  • Brief description of the degree, curriculum, and delivery mode, with time line for planning and implementation
  • Mission congruence—university, school, and department
  • Initial evidence that suggests an external demand for the program (this may include national, local, or discipline demands and trends, but is not expected to be a full feasibility study at this point)
  • Institutional capacity to deliver and support the program
  • Resources required to develop and support the program, along with initial estimate that the new program will be revenue positive, neutral, or negative in the first three years.

Stage 2. After the Academic Cabinet has indicated its support for the proposed program in principle, Stage 2 is initiated, and the department chair works with OCS and faculty to design the program and complete the Program Implementation Proposal (PIP) (MS Word) and preliminary discussions to review the components of the Educational Effectiveness (EE) process. The PIP, which may take 12 to 18 months, includes: (1) developing the curricula, (2) crafting any necessary documents for accreditation, (3) conducting a comparison of curricula, time to degree completion, and tuition to appropriate competitors, (4) outlining a three-year budget, and (5) conducting a market analysis or feasibility study to verify the demand for the program. Concurrently, departments are encouraged to complete the EE process and related paperwork for the program. This critical part of the proposal provides more specific information about the curricular plan, including a curricular map, an assessment plan, faculty needs and qualifications, and three sample syllabi. The PIP is submitted to OCS and is placed on the agenda for the Academic Cabinet to review and approve.

Stage 3. Once that is approved, Stage 3 can be initiated. This stage involves a high degree of faculty involvement to develop the curricula, student outcomes, and assessment plans. The EE forms in the CourseLeaf system represent the documentation that needs to be completed based upon the need for a new program, new course, changes to current courses, or other minor, expedited curricular changes. Once this documentation has been completed by the department, it is submitted to workflow in CourseLeaf and winds its way to the Curriculum Committee of the Undergraduate, Master’s, or Doctoral Studies Council for review and approval. Once approved by the Curriculum Committee, the proposal moves to the Undergraduate, Master’s, or Doctoral Studies Council for approval. This approval is noted in the council minutes. By consensus ballot, the Faculty Senate reviews all council minutes and approves or disapproves the action of the council in regard to the curricular change. OCS is responsible for tracking the proposed change along this journey, and once the proposal is approved by the Faculty Senate, OCS is responsible for ensuring that information about the new course or minor course change is disseminated to the registrar’s office, those responsible for catalog changes, the Office of University Relations, and other parties impacted by this change. OCS is responsible for tracking the new proposal until one month following implementation.

Initiatives for New Courses or Changes to Current Curricular Offerings

Development of new courses and minor course changes is initiated by faculty within their respective department. Each department has its own governance structure and processes for reviewing and approving new courses or minor course changes. Once a proposal is submitted in CourseLeaf, OCS reviews the changes and moves them on to the chair and the dean for approval. The proposal is then submitted by OCS for review and tracking through the approval process. OCS is responsible for getting the proposal on the agenda of the Curriculum Committee of the Undergraduate, Master’s or Doctoral Studies Council for review and approval. Once approved by the Curriculum Committee, the proposal moves to the Undergraduate, Master’s, or Doctoral Studies Council for approval. This approval is noted in the council minutes. By consensus ballot, the Faculty Senate reviews all council minutes and approves or disapproves the action of the council in regard to the curricular change. OCS is responsible for tracking the proposed change along this journey, and once the proposal is approved by the Faculty Senate, OCS is responsible for ensuring that information about the new course or minor course change is disseminated to the registrar’s office, those responsible for catalog changes, the Office of University Relations, and other parties impacted by this change. OCS is responsible for tracking the new proposal until one month following implementation.