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Accreditation Criteria Requirements

SACSCOC Core Requirement 2.8 requires that the number of full-time faculty members in an institution is adequate to support its mission and that the institution has adequate faculty resources to ensure the quality and integrity of its academic programs. We must demonstrate that this is the case for UT Austin. In addition, Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1 requires that the institution employs competent faculty members qualified to accomplish the mission and goals of the institution. Thus, we must also demonstrate that our faculty (all tenured and tenure-track faculty as well as non-tenure track faculty) have the credentials to teach what they are asked to teach. The criteria go on to specify that when determining acceptable qualifications of its faculty, an institution gives primary consideration to the highest earned degree in the discipline in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • Faculty teaching general education courses at the undergraduate level: doctor’s or master’s degree in the teaching discipline or master’s degree with a concentration in the teaching discipline (a minimum of 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline).
  • Faculty teaching baccalaureate courses: doctor’s or master’s degree in the teaching discipline or master’s degree with a concentration in the teaching discipline (minimum of 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline).
  • Faculty teaching graduate and post-baccalaureate course work: earned doctorate/ terminal degree in the teaching discipline or a related discipline.
  • Graduate teaching assistants: master’s in the teaching discipline or 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline, direct supervision by a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, regular in-service training, and planned and periodic evaluations.

We are also to consider faculty competence, effectiveness, and capacity, including, as appropriate, undergraduate and graduate degrees, related work experiences in the field, professional licensure and certifications, honors and awards, continuous documented excellence in teaching, or other demonstrated competencies and achievements that contribute to effective teaching and student learning outcomes. For all cases, we are responsible for justifying and documenting the qualifications of its faculty.

Criteria Implementation

We are implementing the faculty credentialing criterion by acquiring documentation for all our professional faculty (all faculty except Assistant Instructors) and then showing that they are qualified to teach the courses they are assigned to teach. Effective with the 2005-06 academic year, the Provost’s Office must have in its faculty files official documentation showing completion of the doctoral degree (or the terminal degree for the field as appropriate for the discipline).

This policy applies to all tenured (Professor and Associate Professor) and tenure-track (Assistant Professor) faculty and all non-tenure track faculty (Instructors, Senior Lecturers and Lecturers, Specialists, Visiting faculty, Adjunct faculty, Clinical faculty, Research faculty who are teaching, and Assistant Instructors) who are Instructors of Record for courses that are or could be part of a degree program are included. While faculty credentialing is something we will continue to do from this point forward, for purposes of the upcoming SACSCOC accreditation, we are including all tenured/tenure-track faculty employed during AY2006-07 and all non-tenure track faculty teaching during AY2006-07 in our Compliance Certification document and thus in this initial faculty credentialing effort.

Acquiring Credentials: The first step is to acquire basic documentation (official degree certifications, official transcripts, and other documentation as needed)to verify degrees obtained, specifically the highest degrees obtained. For our tenured faculty, we are acquiring degree verifications certifications are being obtained from the institutions at which they acquired their highest degree, and for all other faculty we are acquiring transcripts. This policy is described in Provost Ekland-Olson’s March 6 memorandum (PDF) to the academic deans.

For tenured faculty, an official degree certification showing the field of study may be adequate. For faculty with only a master’s degrees in disciplines for which the doctoral degree is the terminal degree, an original transcript(s) showing completion of the master’s degree and the necessary graduate coursework in the teaching discipline (in accordance with SACSCOC guidance) is required. Faculty without degrees in their teaching discipline as specified by SACSCOC criteria will be credentialed on a case-by-case basis, and additional information may be needed and may have to be gathered by the faculty member.

This new policy will be implemented as follows:

1.    Current Faculty: To the extent possible, faculty credentials for current faculty (i.e., employed during AY2005-06 and who will likely be employed during AY2006-07) will be solicited and paid for by the Provost’s Office. Faculty credentials will be obtained as follows:

  1. Tenured Faculty: the Provost’s Office will seek official degree certifications from the institutions which awarded the highest degree obtained by the faculty member. This will not require any action of the dean’s part or that of these faculty unless an institution does not provide such certifications or it requires permission of the faculty member for this certification. If so, then the faculty member will be asked to sign a release (see form for degree certifications (PDF)) to that effect. Faculty desiring to acquire the certification document themselves may do so at their own expense, but this document must be provided to the Provost Office during AY2005-06.
    1. Tenured faculty whose field of highest degree does not match the field of the courses they are teaching during AY2006-07 may need to be credentialed further. If additional credentials are needed to determine actual coursework taken to comply with SACSCOC credentialing guidelines, the Provost’s Office will have to obtain original transcripts, and those faculty will be asked to sign a release (see form for official transcripts (PDF)) giving this office permission to obtain those transcripts or other credentialing information from the institution where the terminal degree or master’s degree was received. Again, faculty desiring to provide credentialing information themselves may do so at their own expense, but these credentials must be provided to the Provost Office during AY2005-06.
    2. If any further documentation is needed, the faculty member will be responsible for acquiring the information needed and working with their departmental office or school to complete the credentialing.
  2. Tenure-Track and Non-Tenured Faculty: the Provost’s Office will obtain official transcripts of work for the highest degree obtained by the faculty member. These faculty will be asked to sign a release (see form for official transcripts (PDF)) giving this office permission to obtain official transcripts from the institution. Faculty desiring to provide official transcripts themselves may do so at their own expense, but these credentials must be provided to the Provost Office during AY2005-06.Department chairs and directors of other instructional units will want to ask those non-tenure track faculty now teaching who are expected to teach during AY2006-07 to fill out, sign, and submit the form this spring. Any current non-tenure track faculty who will not be employed during AY2006-07 do not have to be credentialed as part of the SACSCOC accreditation. (If they are employed after AY2006-07, however, they will need to be credentialed at the time they are employed.) Any new non-tenure track faculty appointed for AY2006-07 (whether appointed in fall 2006 or spring 2007) will be credentialed at the time they are appointed (i.e., a filled out and signed form or an original transcript for their highest degree must be submitted at the time of appointment).

Matching Credentials to Courses Taught: The second step is to determine for each faculty member if the field of study of the highest degree matches the field(s) of the courses each faculty member is teaching during AY2006-07. For each faculty member, a CIP code has already been assigned or will be assigned based on their highest degree and field of study. Courses offered at UT Austin likewise have a CIP code assigned to them. For faculty teaching during AY2006-07 and courses offered during the same year, faculty and course CIP codes will be compared. If there is a match, then no further documentation is obtainedneeded. If there is not a match, then at a minimum a justification for a faculty member teaching a course outside their highest degree field of study needs to be provided or additional documentation is must be obtained that will show that the faculty member is qualified to teach each learning objective of the course(s) they are teaching. This will mean that learning objectives will need to be developed for courses involved in this additional credentialing and preferably all courses.

This initial matching of faculty CIP codes to course CIP codes will be done in the Provost’s Office. Where it is clear than additional credentialing is needed, the schools and departments will work with their faculty to provide the information needed.

All of the documentation being obtained will become part of the official faculty files in the Provost’s Office; copies will be provided to the schools/colleges for their records as well.

Future Faculty Credentialing

All faculty hired during AY2005-06 and beyond and starting employment during AY2006-07 and beyond will be asked to sign a release (see form for future faculty official transcripts (PDF)) giving the Provost’sOffice permission to obtain official transcripts from the institution where the terminal degree or master’s degree was received or they will provide an original of their transcript at their own expense. This release or the transcript must be submitted before the initial appointment. Other information that may be needed will be obtained by the faculty member or with the faculty member’s permission as appropriate.

 

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