Accreditation Process Book

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1 Accreditation Process Book Associate Degree Schools and Programs West 119th Street Overland Park, Kansas USA acbsp.org For Institutions Seeking Initial and Reaffirmation of Accreditation

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3 THE PROCESS BOOK FOR ACCREDITATION FOR ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAMS June 2015 ACCREDITATION COUNCIL FOR BUSINESS SCHOOLS AND PROGRAMS (ACBSP) West 119 th Street Overland Park, Kansas USA Telephone: (913) FAX: (913)

4 Table of Contents INTRODUCTION... 1 Accreditation Governance... 2 Accreditation Eligibility... 2 Privacy of Accreditation Process... 3 Conflict of Interest and Non-Disclosure Policy... 3 Accreditation Staff... 3 ACCREDITATION PROCESS... 3 Initial Accreditation... 3 Candidacy Status... 4 Appointment of a Mentor and Mentoring Activities... 4 Fees During Candidacy - Mentor... 5 Fees During Candidacy - Maintenance Fee... 5 Reports During Candidacy - Preliminary Site Visit Questionnaire... 5 Reports During Candidacy - Action Plan... 6 Reports During Candidacy - Annual Report... 6 Recommendation to Proceed to Self-Study... 7 SELF-STUDY REPORT... 7 Preparation of Self-Study... 7 EVALUATION TEAM SITE VISIT... 8 Evaluation Team Appointment... 8 Evaluation Team Responsibilities... 9 COMPLIANCE WITH ACCREDITATION STANDARDS POST-VISIT REVIEW AND RESPONSE ACCREDITATION COMMITTEE REVIEW BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS ACTIONS ACCREDITATION PROBATION ACCREDITATION WITHDRAWAL Appeal Process PUBLIC CONCERNS AND COMPLAINTS PROCESS Informal Resolution Procedure Formal Resolution Procedure INSTITUTIONAL CHANGES Branch Campus Educational Sites or Other Instructional Sites Branch Campuses and Sites Adding New Program(s) Program(s) Termination Change of Institution Name or Location Change of Ownership Closing of Institution MAINTAINING ACCREDITATION Public Notification of Accreditation Privacy of Accreditation Results Reaffirmation of Accreditation... 25

5 ACCREDITATION TIMETABLE AND COSTS Accreditation Timetable Accreditation Costs Accrediting Associate Degree Programs at an ACBSP School with Baccalaureate/Graduate Degree Programs REAFFIRMATION OF ACCREDITATION TIMETABLE AND COSTS Reaffirmation of Accreditation Process Timetable Reaffirmation of Accreditation Costs APPLICATION FOR CANDIDACY STATUS... 29

6 FIGURES Figure 1. Examples of the Educational Process 1 Figure 2. Accreditation Process Timetable 7 Figure 3. Application for Accreditation 11 Figure 4. Checklist of Activities in Preparation for Site Visit of ACBSP Evaluation Team. 17 New Revision May 2013 Revision A June 2015

7 ACCREDITATION FOR ASSOCIATE DEGREE BUSINESS PROGRAMS INTRODUCTION Accreditation is the process by which a business program voluntarily undergoes an independent appraisal of its educational activities. There are two types of accreditation: (1) institutional; and (2) specialized. ACBSP is a specialized accrediting body that reviews the quality and integrity of business degree programs. Accreditation by ACBSP is based on an independent evaluation of an institution s business programs by a group of professionals that includes faculty and academic administrators in the field of business. The educational quality of a business program is determined by a variety of inputs into the educational process, the educational activities related to the teaching/learning process, and the outcomes of these processes (see Figure 1). Figure 1 Examples of the Educational Process Inputs Educational Activities Outcomes Faculty Teaching by Faculty and Employers Evaluation Learning by Students of Graduates Students Student Advising Specialized Test Support Services Scores Activities Related to the Institutional Facilities Acquisition and/or Development of Student Placement Knowledge Through Faculty Study, Financial Resources Consulting, or Research Professional Status Organization Activities Relating to Improvement in Graduate Surveys the Quantity and Quality of Teaching Management Skills and Learning Resources Alumni Surveys Note: The items in the above figure are not intended to be all inclusive. There are many other types of inputs, activities and outcomes. Often the accreditation process is not well understood by the general public. To some, it is merely a rating process that classifies institutions and programs as excellent, average, or poor, but this is an erroneous perception. Instead, accreditation is a means of assuring students, parents, and the business community that those business schools and programs that are accredited have met rigorous criteria that indicate a high and acceptable level of educational quality. It does not mean that every course, concentration, or major in a business degree program is of comparable quality. It does mean that no course, concentration, or major is so weak as to jeopardize the overall quality of the business school or program. 1

8 ACBSP is devoted to promoting excellence in teaching/learning in business schools and programs in higher education. It accomplishes this objective through the accrediting process and through other activities sponsored by ACBSP. The mission statements of the member business programs of ACBSP are recognized as being quite diverse. Accordingly, the accreditation standards for associate degree granting business programs place considerable emphasis on the institution's mission and the mission of the business programs and their ability to fulfill its mission. Accreditation by ACBSP attests to a business program s high level of achievement in delivering quality education and thereby provides reliable and meaningful guidance: (1) to prospective students who plan to enroll in business degree programs, and (2) to employers who plan to hire the graduates of ACBSP accredited business schools and programs. Accreditation Governance The Accreditation Governance Board assists each Board of Commissioners in establishing, documenting and periodically reviewing broad accreditation policies and procedures essential to accomplishing the objectives and appropriate functioning of the two Commissions and the administration of the accreditation staff. The governance of the accreditation process is the primary responsibility of the elected Board of Commissioners for the Associate Degree Commission. The Board of Commissioners is responsible for determining eligible business programs to be accredited and for all accreditation decisions. Accreditation standards are approved by the members of ACBSP, and interpretation of those standards is the responsibility of the Board of Commissioners. Accreditation Eligibility To be eligible for consideration to become accredited, an business program must first be a member of the ACBSP Associate Degree Commission, which is accomplished by joining ACBSP (cost is $1,350). If an business program has more than one location, an evaluation is made to determine if the additional campuses are branch campuses or educational sites. The main campus can be enrolled as a member. All branch campuses must be enrolled as members when entering candidacy. Other eligibility requirements include: 1. To join as a member, the institution must be accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies. (If an institution is located in a country other than the USA, the institution must provide with the application a certified translation of a copy of the official document from the appropriate authority in the country that authorizes the institution to grant degrees.) 2. The application for accreditation must be authorized in writing by the chief executive officer of the institution. One-half of the accreditation fee must be remitted. The total fee is $2, The business program must have offered each degree in business submitted for accreditation for at least two years. 2

9 Privacy of Accreditation Process All reasonable efforts will be made by ACBSP to protect the confidentiality of the information gathered and reviewed during the accreditation process. Legal requests for information pertaining to an business program's particular accreditation process involving ACBSP may require certain disclosures. All evaluators are expected to understand their ethical responsibility pertaining to conduct before, during, and after an accreditation site visit with which they are involved. This means that matters pertaining to an accreditation visit are not to be discussed in public, and are to be treated as confidential. The Board of Commissioners also requests that ACBSP accreditation materials (e.g., self-study) be maintained as confidential information by the business program. Conflict of Interest and Non-Disclosure Policy Every reasonable effort will be made to have commissioners, staff, and evaluators excluded from involvement in an accreditation process in which they have, or might sometime have in the near future, a professional or personal conflict of interest. ACBSP policy requires that all active commissioners and board members of ACBSP remove themselves from any of the council's discussions about their own institution s accreditation and all other business programs where they have a relationship that could involve a conflict of interest. All members of the Board of Commissioners sign a conflict of interest and non-disclosure statement each year. Accreditation Staff The ACBSP staff is always available to assist individual business programs that are considering accreditation or are in the process of accreditation. The staff includes a Chief Accreditation Officer who leads the overall effort, Executive Liaison to the Associate Degree Board of Commissioners, Associate Director of Accreditation and the Accreditation Coordinators. Other staff at the ACBSP office may be able to respond to your questions and requests for information as well. ACCREDITATION PROCESS Initial Accreditation ACBSP offers accreditation for individual campuses and system-wide accreditation. Typically, the main campus of the system enters membership and there is no requirement for branch campuses to join into membership unless there is a desire to receive member benefits at these branch campuses. The cost of annual dues is $1,350 for the main campus. At the point accreditation is sought, the branch campuses must be brought into membership as candidates for accreditation. Exceptions are created for campuses that are not prepared to undertake the accreditation process. They should not be brought into candidacy until they are prepared to undertake the process. Necessary efforts must be taken by these campuses and the main campus to clearly state the accreditation preparation status or lack thereof. The self-study is prepared using the current approved Standards and Criteria to demonstrate teaching excellence for associate degree programs. The purpose of the self-study is for the business program to 3

10 demonstrate that it is in compliance with these standards. There are two accreditation cycles per year. Self-studies can be submitted through the online reporting portal before July 15 th or December 15 th to begin the accreditation within that cycle. Candidacy Status The initial accreditation process starts with the submission of an Application for candidacy from the business program accreditation champion that triggers a preliminary review by ACBSP of the business programs to determine their degree of readiness to commence a self-study. Upon review and approval of the application documents, the business programs become Candidates for Accreditation and they are in candidacy status. This title may be used in presenting to the public the business program's membership status. A check for $1,250 needs to accompany the application in partial payment of the total application fee of $2,500 for pursuing the self-study. Upon receipt of the application and check by ACBSP, access to the preliminary questionnaire will be provided in the online reporting portal. A word of caution is in order at this point. While ACBSP wants to actively help the business programs achieve accreditation, and while it has established this program for that purpose, ACBSP is not in a position to guarantee that the business programs will receive accreditation by becoming a Candidate for Accreditation. The expectation, however, is that the business programs will successfully achieve accreditation. Candidates for Accreditation are held to all of the standards for accreditation. Appointment of a Mentor and Mentoring Activities After receiving notice of being granted candidacy status, ACBSP will assign a mentor for the business programs. The program champion and ACBSP will mutually agree upon mentors. Contact information will be provided to the mentor and the primary contact for accreditation (champion) as specified in the application for candidacy. The mentor and the champion should communicate as soon as possible about expectations on timing to complete the preliminary questionnaire and steps required in the action plan to prepare to enter the self-study phase. This includes any support the business programs require from the mentor. The mentor and champion should communicate at least once a month to determine what assistance is needed from the mentor with the accreditation process and to allow the mentor to monitor the progress along the timeline suggested by the business programs. The program champion will inform the mentor when the preliminary questionnaire is ready to be reviewed in the online reporting portal. The mentor should review the information and provide feedback to the business programs. This is normally completed within one month after receipt of the questionnaire. The mentor and the champion should discuss the feedback and prepare a timeline and an action plan to improve any processes identified by the mentor during the review of the preliminary questionnaire. The champion and the mentor should decide if a visit to the campus will benefit the business program's accreditation process. When the mentor believes the action plan has progressed sufficiently to allow the business programs to conduct a self-study that can meet the ACBSP standards, the mentor will notify ACBSP. After notification from the mentor that the business programs are ready to write the self-study, ACBSP staff will notify the champion with the timeline for submittal of the self-study. 4

11 The business programs should ask the mentor each section of the self-study to review after the section is completed. Feedback will be provided to the business programs. Suggested improvements might include providing sufficient data and information to show evidence of continuous improvement (closing the loop), and if possible, including the link, data, or data summaries in the self-study document rather than in the appendices. The champion will complete the Intent to Submit a Self-Study Form and send it to ACBSP. This normally occurs before September 1st for self-studies to be submitted for the December 15th cycle and March 1st for self-studies to be submitted for the July 15th cycle. The mentor will be invited to participate in the consensus call with the site-visit team but is not required. The business programs can also invite the mentor to be present during the site visit to act as a liaison between the business programs and the site-visit team. The business programs are responsible for all expenses incurred by the mentor if he/she is invited to participate in the site visit. Fees During Candidacy - Mentor The costs related to having the mentor are a consulting fee of $400 per year, unless pre-coordinated with the mentee, mentor, and ACBSP, and reimbursement of travel expenses. During the first year, if a visit to the school is not required and work is done via and phone, the mentor is paid an honorarium of $400 for desk time upon completion. The mentor is not paid for desk time in subsequent years except for visits to the campus. In addition to work by and a campus visit, work can also occur during the ACBSP Annual Conference if both parties are in attendance. The mentor submits documentation of expenses to ACBSP. ACBSP takes responsibility to provide payment to the mentor, and the business programs take responsibility to reimburse ACBSP in a timely manner. Fees During Candidacy - Maintenance Fee The annual membership fee is $2,150 per year while in candidacy. The annual membership fee is $2,150 per year while accredited. Membership dues statements are sent in June of each year. Reports During Candidacy - Preliminary Site Visit Questionnaire Upon receipt and completion of the candidacy application process, the ACBSP office and mentor will assure the business program receives or has previously received access to the Preliminary Site Visit Questionnaire and the Standards and Criteria through the online reporting portal. The first report submitted for business accreditation is the Preliminary Site Visit Questionnaire developed by members of the business programs. This is anticipated to be submitted within six months after appointment of the mentor. Upon its completion access is provided to both ACBSP and the mentor, a visit to the business program by the mentor typically is scheduled to review the materials in the questionnaire with the dean or chair of the business programs. The mentor provides feedback and the accreditation champion should develop an action plan to close any gaps identified. The accreditation champion and the mentor will decide if a visit should be scheduled to the business program to review the materials in the questionnaire and the level of readiness of the academic business programs to proceed with the accreditation process. 5

12 The results of the preliminary review should not be construed as an approval or rejection of accreditation. It is simply a test of readiness. Associate degree programs that include courses with titles, instructional objectives and stated outcomes in such areas as accounting, administration, marketing and distribution, retailing, banking, finance, purchasing, and management including, but not limited to specialty management areas, and office administration are ordinarily included for ACBSP accreditation purposes. Exclusion of such programs must be specifically requested by a letter from the candidate business program to accompany its initial application for accreditation. Such exclusion(s) will be a special subject of review during a preliminary visit which must be conducted if an exclusion is requested. Upon the approval by the Board of Commissioners of the rationale for excluding a program(s) normally included as a part of the business programs as defined by ACBSP, the candidate business program must describe the exclusion and the rationale for the exclusion in the self-study. Questions about completing the preliminary visit questionnaire should be referred to the mentor or accreditation staff. The preliminary visit cannot take place until the completed forms have been returned to ACBSP headquarters. Reports During Candidacy - Action Plan It is a good idea for the business program to develop an action plan based on the Preliminary Site Visit Questionnaire and mentor feedback. The action plan includes a description of what needs to be accomplished before the school is ready to begin the self-study and a timetable for completion. It is also an ideal opportunity to outline the anticipated costs of accreditation, a plan for budgeting for these expenses and for invoicing by ACBSP for expenses required to be paid to ACBSP. Reports During Candidacy - Annual Report The business programs in candidacy are required to submit an annual report to the ACBSP office in September of each year. The annual report will address progress in meeting the accreditation standards and set forth a timetable for meeting program deficiencies. The business programs will determine with the mentor if a campus visit is needed. The mentor will file a separate annual mentoring report regarding progress to the ACBSP office in September of each year and will inform ACBSP of anticipated readiness for proceeding to the selfstudy. After the self-study is completed, an evaluation team will visit the business school to validate the correctness of the information provided in the self-study. The findings of the evaluators are first reviewed by the ACBSP staff for completeness, and then the accreditation champion is advised the feedback report is ready for their review and response from the president of the institution to learn if there is disagreement with the program evaluator s comments in the report. 6

13 After the president s response is loaded into the online reporting portal with ACBSP, the Board of Commissioners review all of the material mentioned above. The Board of Commissioners meets to review accreditation materials and award accreditation to those business programs that are in compliance with ACBSP standards. Recommendation to Proceed to Self-Study The business program must receive a recommendation to proceed to self-study from the mentor, with concurrence of the chief accreditation officer before starting the self-study process. The self-study for accreditation must take place within five years of the date on the application for candidacy or the business programs must request an extension. Prior to submittal of the self-study report, the school must notify the ACBSP office of the intent to submit the self-study report, by filing an Intent to Submit a Self-Study for Initial ACBSP Accreditation. ACBSP will notify the business programs they can proceed with the self-study when their mentor informs ACBSP that they are ready to write their self-study. ACBSP will send them an intent to submit self-study form. They will complete the intent to submit a self-study form and return it to ACBSP with the accreditation cycle identified that they prefer. The remainder of the accreditation fee, with credit given for the amount paid when the original application for accreditation was submitted, will be invoiced by ACBSP. People from the business programs are encouraged to attend ACBSP workshops on the accreditation process which are held each year at the annual conferences. If this is not possible or timely, an business program may request ACBSP to hold a one-day workshop on its campus for those individuals scheduled to be involved in the accreditation process. The business program is required to pay all travel expenses associated with this visit to the campus. SELF-STUDY REPORT Preparation of Self-Study Conducting a thorough self-study is the critical step for a business program to obtain its accreditation. The self-study evaluation report normally takes six months to complete. Upon completion of the selfstudy report, ACBSP will examine the material and make the necessary arrangements for a team of professional evaluators to conduct a site visit. It is important to note that the self-study is designed to focus on the role of the business school, division, or department in the overall framework of the business program. ACBSP does not review the programs and facilities of the entire institution, only the programs and facilities relevant to the business school or program. The Standards and Criteria for Demonstrating Excellence in Associate Degree Schools and Programs published by ACBSP are used by the business program in preparing the self-study document. The selfstudy should include specific consideration of each ACBSP accreditation standard and a candid assessment of the business school s or program s strengths and weaknesses regarding each standard. Unique characteristics of the business school or program not referenced in responses to individual standards, but which are significant in making the case for accreditation, should be set forth in the introductory section of the self-study report. 7

14 The ACBSP online accreditation reporting portal is used to complete and submit the self-study. When the business program locks the self-study in the online reporting portal that is their notification that ACBSP has received their report. The catalog covering the self-study year can be provided as an electronic form (a link placed in the evidence file in the online reporting portal). The self-study document must be completed and locked in the online reporting portal before final arrangements can be made for a site visit by a team of evaluators. Prior to submittal of the self-study report, the school must notify the ACBSP office of the intent to submit the self-study report, by filing a form available from the ACBSP website, and on page 6 of this book. For self-studies to be submitted on December 15th, the form must be submitted by September 1st of the prior year. For self-studies to be submitted prior to July 15th, the form must be submitted on March 1st. Applicants are encouraged to ask questions and if appropriate, work with their mentor, throughout the accreditation process. The staff of ACBSP is more than willing to help. EVALUATION TEAM SITE VISIT After the preparation of the self-study report, ACBSP will appoint a well-balanced team of trained program evaluators to conduct a site visit. ACBSP selects visiting team members from a pool of well qualified persons who have training and experience in the Association s evaluation process. The person designated as the chair of the team will be responsible for assuring that the visit is conducted objectively. The type of business program being evaluated and the programs offered by that institution determine the size of the team (usually three members) and the qualifications of its members. Evaluation Team Appointment To minimize potential conflicts of interest, ACBSP will constitute evaluation teams to the best of their ability so that: 1. No member of the team will have been a recent appointee or employee of the business program being considered for accreditation, nor will the team member have close relatives who are appointees or employees of the business program; 2. No member of the team will have been a graduate of the business program being considered for accreditation; 3. No member of the team will have expressed personal opinions bearing on the accreditability of the business school or program; and 4. No member of the team will currently be from the business program s own home state, unless requested or coordinated with the business program being visited. After the site visit dates are scheduled and the team is appointed, the business programs shall be responsible for all logistical arrangements including, but not limited to: hotel reservations, a meeting room on campus for team meetings, announcements of the arrival of the visiting team, and arrangements for the visiting team to meet with key staff, faculty, students, alumni and community groups. These arrangements should be coordinated with the chair of the ACBSP site visit team. 8

15 Once team members have accepted an accreditation assignment and a team chair has been designated, ACBSP will notify the program champion of the members' names and positions and the date of their visit. Access to the self-study report will be provided to each member of the evaluation team by ACBSP to the online reporting portal. Team members are expected to examine carefully, prior to the site visit, all materials from ACBSP and the petitioning business programs. Prior to the on-site visit, the team chair will work with the institution s head of the business program to ensure that support is available to have a successful visit. The team chair and the in conjunction with the program s self-study champion, the team chair is responsible for working on logistics, gathering information, etc. The team chair is also to keep team members informed about how the site visit arrangements are progressing and of the team s arrival and departure times. A checklist is provided to assist in preparing for the site visit (Figure 4, page 17). Before the consensus phone call the team chair will review the specific plans for the visit, establish which team member will be responsible for writing specific portions of the report, and generally organize the team so a successful visit is ensured. The agenda for the team s first meeting should include a discussion of the team s review to the self-study report and related materials; establishment of a timetable for each day of the visit, and a discussion of how Team members will usually arrive on campus the evening before the first day of the official visit. The team chair will notify the other members of the team of the time and place of their first team meeting, usually the evening before the first day of the visit and when the final evaluation report will be completed and forwarded to ACBSP headquarters (to be no later than two weeks after the visit is made). Evaluation Team Responsibilities During its first day on campus, the team should meet with the president of the institution, the head of the business school or program, and others as deemed appropriate. The team begins the process of evaluation by considering the business school or program in its entirety. As representatives of ACBSP, the evaluation team is responsible for verifying the information in the self-study report and evaluating the business school or program to determine whether the standards for accreditation are met. The team should try to accumulate as much pertinent information as it can, and use sampling techniques where appropriate to review the accumulated data. The team s findings should reflect its collective judgment about the clarity of the mission of the business school or program and the ability of the business school or program to deliver a quality educational experience to its students. A final team meeting should be held during the second day of the site visit at which time the team will seek to reach agreement on the proposed content of its report to the ACBSP Board of Commissioners. At this same meeting, the team chair should finalize plans for an exit interview with the head of the business programs. At the exit interview, the team chair will provide the business program representatives with an oral summary of the major points that will be in the team s written report. The team does not express any opinions as to whether the programs will be accredited - that is the sole prerogative of the Associate Degree Board of Commissioners. The team chair should make clear in the exit interview that the Board of Commissioners will make the final decision on accreditation. Each member of the evaluation team is responsible for writing a portion of the team s report. The team chair has overall responsibility for gathering this information from the evaluators on the online 9

16 reporting portal and preparing a comprehensive final report for the Board of Commissioners. The evaluation team report is to be completed no later than two weeks after the team s visit to the business program. The length of the team s visit will depend on the location(s), size, and number of programs offered by the business program. Sometimes it is not possible to visit all campuses or off-campus locations. A sample of multiple campus systems could be used. However, all campuses and off-campus sites must be considered before the evaluation process is completed, even though a visit to each campus is not required. Generally, three days is sufficient time for the on-site visit. It may take an extra day for extensive off-campus sites or systems with multiple campuses. Figure 4 Checklist of Activities in Preparation for Site Visit of ACBSP Evaluation Team Date Status Accomplished 1. Provide input to selection of evaluation team. 2. Obtain approval of dates for visit from president and head of business programs. 3. Confirm visit dates with ACBSP accreditation staff. 4. Receive team chair/team member s names from accreditation staff. 5. Confer with team chair to determine appointments of key personnel interviews and develop total schedule. 6. Identify appropriate resource room. Reserve and equip with exhibits, hard/software. 7. Make arrangements for lodging. 8. Make arrangements for meals. 9. Arrange transportation for team pickup during visit and return to airport. 10. Schedule appointments with: president/chancellor; business faculty, both full-time and part-time; governance leaders; fiscal officer; registrar; financial aid/placement officer; board members; graduates; employers; personnel director. 11. Plan social events to accommodate interaction with selected individuals listed in #10, i.e., luncheon, banquet, reception (keep social events to minimum). 12. Schedule exit conference and who should attend. 13. Assign support personnel for standby assistance to team. 14. Gather the following information for the resource room. a. Class schedules for the self-study year. b. Vitae of business program administrators, faculty, and staff. c. Evaluation instruments, reports, and surveys. d. Course enrollments for all business offerings for the self-study year, along with a key to interpret the course coding. 10

17 e. Business programs organization chart for the self-study year and the current year that shows all budgeted positions and the incumbent s name in a filled position for the self-study year and the current year. Status Date Accomplished f. Course syllabi. g. Placement/assessment instruments, admission forms, and policies. h. Catalog(s) for the self-study year and the current year. i. Regional accreditation self-study and a copy of the findings of the visiting team. j. Minutes of business faculty and advisory committee meetings during the self-study year. k. Faculty handbook(s). l. Student handbook(s). m. Additional documentation that supports the selfstudy and other information the institution feels would enhance the evaluation. 11

18 COMPLIANCE WITH ACCREDITATION STANDARDS Business schools and programs are expected to comply with the membership approved accreditation standards of ACBSP. The self-study report prepared by the business program should demonstrate that the compliance does exist. Business programs have the opportunity to request a deviation from a standard that is mentioned in ACBSP s publication Associate Degree Schools and Programs Standards and Criteria for Demonstrating Excellence for Business programs seeking Initial Accreditation and Reaffirmation of Accreditation. The deviation may be prompted by the unique mission of the institution or the business programs or by other extenuating circumstances, such as government or union requirements. When a deviation is requested, it is necessary to include the request in the self-study report and provide a written justification for the request. Deviations are not routinely granted they must be truly an exception that is justified and one that does not dilute the quality of the business programs. For further information, contact the ACBSP accreditation staff. POST-VISIT REVIEW AND RESPONSE After the site visit is finished and the team chair completes the final report, the report is forwarded to ACBSP headquarters via the online reporting portal. ACBSP then sends the team s report to the business program representative for review and comment using the online reporting portal. A written response by the business program is requested within ten business days of receipt of the report. After the business program s response is received by ACBSP, a report is prepared for review by the Accreditation Committee of the Board of Commissioners. ACCREDITATION COMMITTEE REVIEW The Accreditation Committee is composed of Associate Degree Commissioners. The chairperson of the Accreditation Committee may request the presence of any individual(s) that could provide information of a substantive nature to the proceedings. The Accreditation Committee reviews the evaluation team s report and the business program s response: 1. To determine if the team s findings support the granting of accreditation; and 2. To evaluate the business program's response to the team s report, especially if there is substantial disagreement between the business program s response and the team's report. After careful review of the visiting team's findings, the response of the business program, and other relevant materials, the Accreditation Committee makes its recommendations to the Board of Commissioners concerning action on the application for accreditation of business programs. BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS ACTIONS The Board of Commissioners is composed of nine elected Associate Degree Commissioners and one appointed member to represent the public. The Chief Accreditation Officer is ex officio members of the Board of Commissioners (nonvoting). The accreditation staff serves as secretary. 12

19 After the recommendation of the Accreditation Committee is made, the Board of Commissioners is required to take action on the recommendation. Action taken by the Board of Commissioners to accredit, to renew accreditation, not to accredit, or to change accredited status is taken only after reviewing the self-study report prepared by the business program, the report of the visiting team, the response of the business program to the team s report, and the recommendation of the Accreditation Committee. ACBSP will inform the public of decisions on accreditation status through the ACBSP website, Business programs must distinguish accurately to the public between programs that have achieved accredited status and those that have not. This may be accomplished through brochures, catalogs, websites or other means of effective public communications. At each level of review, both the number and seriousness of any deficiencies, if any, are taken into account, as well as the business program s willingness and capability to overcome them. The action on an application for accreditation can be one of the following. 1. Accreditation Granted Accreditation shall be granted to those business programs judged by the Board of Commissioners to be substantially in compliance with the ACBSP accreditation standards. If an business program is accredited with notes, the business program should address the notes in the next Quality Assurance report to ACBSP. The business program must have paid its current membership dues and the site visit expenses before accreditation is extended or reaffirmed. The business program will be notified, in writing, of its accreditation status. 2. Conditional Accreditation There are occasions when the Board of Commissioners may grant Conditional Accreditation because the existing deficiencies are considered minor and the president of the institution has pledged that the deficiencies will be remedied within a four-year time frame. When the deficiencies are ameliorated, the business program will report the improvement in the quality assurance report or write a letter to ACBSP asking that the conditions be removed. When deemed necessary, a Commissioner will visit the campus and make a determination of whether the deficiencies have been corrected. The report of these findings is made at the Board of Commissioners meeting for final disposition. If the deficiencies are not corrected within the time allowed, the accreditation may be placed on probation or the business program will be notified that its conditional accreditation status has been rescinded and its current status is unaccredited. 3. Accreditation Action Deferred When an business program is found to be in noncompliance with some of the standards, the Board of Commissioners may defer action until a later date (usually within three years) pending remedial action and/or receipt of additional information. The reasons for the deferral will be stated in writing by the commissioners, along with an invitation to respond. A deferral is, in effect, a ruling of no action at that time, and therefore cannot be appealed. 13

20 This action differs from conditional accreditation in two main respects: first, the noncompliance areas are extensive, and/or second, adequate information concerning compliance with standards was not included in the self-study document. 4. Accreditation Withheld Accreditation withheld applies to an initial or new application for accreditation. If accreditation is withheld, the Board of Commissioners will give written reasons for the denial of the application. The applicant has the opportunity to present its case, including new evidence, in a fair and impartial hearing before the Board of Commissioners at its next scheduled meeting. The procedures for this type of hearing are as follows: a. The request for such a hearing must be made within 15 days of the date of notification of the denial, it must be in writing, and it must be signed by the chief executive officer of the institution. The arguments and reasons in support of the request must be limited to the points enumerated in the written statement of denial; b. The business program may present only evidence not already considered. The business program may send one or more representatives, including legal counsel, to present its argument contesting the action taken by the Board of Commissioners. ACBSP records and may subsequently transcribe all proceedings of this type for its own use; and c. Based on the kind of new evidence presented, the Board of Commissioners may affirm, modify, or reverse its previous decision to deny accreditation. If the previous action of denial is upheld, the denial becomes final and no further remedy is available to the business program for the period of one year, after which the business program may reapply for accreditation. Action taken by the Board of Commissioners to accredit, to renew accreditation, not to accredit, or to limit or otherwise impose conditions on the granting of accreditation, is taken only after reviewing the self-study report prepared by the business program, the report of the visiting team, the response of the business program to the team's report, and the recommendations of the Accreditation Committee. At each level of review, both the number and seriousness of any deficiencies, if any, are taken into account, as well as the business program's willingness and capability to overcome them. ACCREDITATION PROBATION When an accredited business program is found to be in noncompliance with the ACBSP standards, the Board of Commissioners may declare the accreditation of that business program to be probationary. Probation is a serious status that places the business program s accreditation in jeopardy and may be preliminary to the consideration of withdrawal. The Board of Commissioners will inform the business program in a written statement of the reasons for probation, along with an invitation to respond. A Commissioner will be assigned to work with the business program to satisfy the conditions for the removal of probation. Probationary status requires a decision regarding continued accreditation by the Board of Commissioners within one year of the date of the board s action. 14

21 It is a principle of the Board of Commissioners that accreditation brings with it the good faith understanding by the accredited business program that continued accreditation requires that the business program remain in compliance with the standards and concur with ACBSP s Principles of Accreditation. Consequently, probationary action may occur when an business program is determined by the Board of Commissioners to be out of compliance with the standards or with the policies and procedures of ACBSP. This may include, but is not limited to, situations where an accredited business program: 1. Demonstrates a pattern of consistent non-compliance with the standards; 2. Fails to remove conditions of accreditation within the allotted time frame; 3. Fails to respond to directives or information requested by the Board; 4. Fails to comply with ACBSP directives with regard to promotional materials, and/or public perception of accreditation; 5. Demonstrates other significant inconsistencies with ACBSP accreditation policies and procedures; or 6. Meets any of the conditions listed as reasons for suspension. During the probationary period the business program maintains its accreditation status. ACCREDITATION WITHDRAWAL Accreditation may be withdrawn by ACBSP through two types of actions: 1) suspension of accreditation; and (2) revocation of accreditation. Suspension of accreditation may occur when, in the judgment of ACBSP, business programs no longer substantially complies with the standards of ACBSP. A judgment of suspension will always specify the time, conditions, and terms by which an business programs may regain accreditation through correction of the conditions that led to the suspension. Listed below are several, but not all, of the reasons for suspension. 1. When any component of an accredited business school or program is thoroughly examined and found not to be in compliance with current ACBSP standards. 2. When quality assurance reports filed by the accredited school or program fail to conform to ACBSP reporting requirements. 3. When any substantial or significant change in the operation, structure, governance, ownership, control, location, facilities, or programs of the business program are made without notifying ACBSP. 4. When the business programs fails to respond to inquiries or to cooperate in completing arrangements for a scheduled evaluation. 15

22 5. When the business programs have deviated from standards or directives of ACBSP. 6. When the business programs fails to file a Quality Assurance Report on a timely basis as required by ACBSP. 7. When the business programs have failed to pay its annual membership dues or accreditation fees. Outright revocation of accreditation rarely occurs; it most often follows suspension by ACBSP, and thereafter, the failure of the business programs to correct deficiencies noted by ACBSP. A judgment of revocation by ACBSP requires that the business programs begin anew the process of accreditation in order to regain it. In all cases where accreditation is subject to withdrawal, either by suspension or revocation, the business programs are afforded the following procedural guarantees: 1. Opportunity for a hearing before the Board of Commissioners on all material issues in controversy; 2. Written prior notice of the proceedings, the charges levied, and the standards by which the business program is ultimately to be judged; and 3. A right of appeal as set forth in the next section. Appeal Process Certain appeal procedures have been established for business programs whose accreditation is subject to withdrawal by way of suspension. These procedures are intended to provide due process to business programs claiming to be aggrieved by the withdrawal actions, but do not apply to decisions by ACBSP to withhold accreditation by means of denial of application. The business program must file an appeal with ACBSP, signed by the chief executive officer of the business program making the appeal, within 15 days after suspension notification by ACBSP. An appeal of withdrawal of accreditation by ACBSP must be on the grounds that such a decision was: 1. Arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise in substantial disregard of the standards or procedures of ACBSP, or 2. Not supported by substantial evidence in the record upon which the Commissioners based the withdrawal action. The Board of Appeal has no jurisdiction or authority concerning the reasonableness of the accreditation standards and procedures. Nor will the board members consider any evidence that was not in the record for review by the Board of Commissioners. 16

23 The Board of Appeal is a separate, independent appeals body established by ACBSP for the purpose of hearing appeals by business programs whose accreditation has been withdrawn. The Board of Appeal serves as another level of due process for business programs whose accreditation has been suspended. The Board of Appeal is comprised of five persons, each of whom must be a business faculty member or academic administrator of an ACBSP member business program. The appointment is made by the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of ACBSP, which will also appoint the chair of the Board of Appeal. Terms of appointment are also set by the Executive Committee. The qualifications of each member appointed to the Board of Appeal must include knowledge of, and experience with, the accreditation process. An appointee may not be currently serving as a commissioner. The Board of Appeal is empowered to review, upon notice of appeal by an business program, the withdrawal of accreditation of that business program. The Board of Appeal has the authority to: 1. Affirm the decision of the Board of Commissioners; and 2. Remand the case to the Board of Commissioners with recommendations for further consideration if it finds the appeal to have been well-founded or justified. When a case is remanded to the Board of Commissioners, the recommendation of the Board of Appeal shall not bind or limit the Board of Commissioners in any way. When the decision of the Board of Commissioners is affirmed by the Board of Appeal, the appeal shall be deemed to be finally disposed of upon issuance of the Board of Appeal's decision. An appeal remanded to the Board of Commissioners by the Board of Appeal shall be deemed to be finally disposed of when the Board of Commissioners takes final action on the remand. A hearing will be held at a time and place designated by the chair of the Board of Appeal. Three members constitute a quorum. The Board of Appeal may be convened as necessary. Briefs may be submitted, prior to the hearing, by the business program and the Board of Commissioners in a manner prescribed by the Board of Appeal. The chair, or the member of the Board of Appeal designated in the chair's absence, will preside at the hearing. The chair will rule on all procedural matters. The hearing shall be as informal as possible and appropriate under the circumstances. The business program may waive personal appearance, in which case the matter will be handled solely on the submitted briefs. Every decision must have the concurrence of a majority of the Board of Appeal. Within a reasonable time following the conclusion of the hearing, the Board of Appeal shall issue a written statement of the decision, along with its reasons for the decision and recommendation, if any, to the Board of Commissioners. Dissenting opinions may be filed. The majority opinion, with dissenting opinions, if any, will be furnished to the business program. Publication of the decision is the responsibility of ACBSP, however, it has no authority to withhold publication. 17

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