Troy University
SACS Reaffirmation of Accreditation
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3.13.1 The institution complies with the policies of the Commission on Colleges. (Policy compliance)

Off-Site Committee Comments

The institution is in compliance with all commission policies with the exception of the distance education policy as cited in 3.4.1, 3.4.9, and 3.7.3. Troy University’s compliance report did not provide sufficient information in its documentation to enable the committee to determine whether it is in compliance with the Commission on Colleges’ statement on distance education policy. 

Narrative:  

Troy University first offered an academic program, the Master of Science in Nursing, through distance learning in 1995, and the University has worked closely with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to ensure compliance with commission policies regarding distance education.   In January 1998, Troy University submitted a Substantive Change Prospectus to SACS for the University College Distance Learning Pilot conducted at Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., that was approved by SACS.  A Substantive Change Prospectus was submitted to SACS in January 1999 for establishing a centralized Distance Learning Center that would include live interactive courses, live courses transmitted over cable television, live courses recorded on videotape, pre-produced video on television, and online/Web based courses.  In June 2001, the University submitted another Substantive Change Prospectus to SACS on Expansion of Distance Learning.   At each step along the way, as the University explored and developed its capacity for managing distance learning, the institution has shared its approaches to providing academic and student support services with SACS via Substantive Change Prospectuses that SACS has approved. 

In 2002, for the Troy campus’ decennial reaffirmation of accreditation, the University submitted a SACS Self-Study Report that included all of the University’s distance learning programs. This self-study documented the continued growth of distance learning programs and support services.

The off-site team that reviewed the Troy University 2008 Compliance Certification Report  has requested additional information regarding comprehensive standards 3.4.1, 3.4.9 and 3.7.3 as they relate to distance learning at Troy University.  This response provides the additional information, organized by the requirements that the team specified.

Comprehensive Standard 3.4.1 and Distance Learning

Troy University appreciates the recognition of the off-site committee that the University has a clear process in place for academic program approval. Troy University explicitly affirms that this process applies to all of its academic programs in all of its locations and formats.

Any academic program or specific course to be offered through distance learning must first be a program or course that is approved by the appropriate college curriculum / discipline committee, the Institutional Effectiveness Committee, and either the Undergraduate Academic Council or the Graduate Academic Council, as appropriate.  As stated throughout the Compliance Certification Report and this Focused Report, these committees are comprised of full-time faculty members.  

All University courses are reviewed and approved in the same process, regardless of where and how they will be delivered. Consequently, there is a standardized approval process for all University curricular changes. In addition to the common process for changing the curriculum, all Troy University distance learning courses are reviewed against an internally-developed matrix to ensure that the delivery of these courses, in an online environment, is also standardized. For example, all online course syllabi are submitted at specific times in advance of the term in which they will be used, thus allowing eCampus staff to ensure that specific formats and critical information are included. This eCampus review further standardizes the courses it delivers so that students working in an online environment enjoy additional commonality across their courses.

No curriculum changes, at any Troy University location, are made without following the specific standardized process described in Section 3.4.1 of this Focused Report, which provides examples the routing attachments for the addition of a major or minor, the addition of a concentration to a major, the addition of courses to a major, minor, or graduate program, modification of a graduate or undergraduate program, and administrative changes such as changes to course numbers, prerequisites and course descriptions.

Comprehensive Standard 3.4.9 and Distance Learning

Troy University provides student support programs, services and activities that are consistent with its mission as well as its strategic plan and that are linked through the use of various technologies. Troy University strives to design all aspects of learning, service delivery, and support to meet the needs of students regardless of location or learning format. The University works to ensure a student-centered culture so that each student (traditional and non-traditional) has the immediate and effective support needed as he or she attends the University onsite through Global Campus or online through eCampus. The integration of technology across all facets of student services allows Troy University students at a distance to have access to comparable student services globally. The various academic support services provided to Global Campus, the Global Campus student services division, and eCampus students are described below.

Adaptive Needs

This program provides assistance and accommodations to students with documented disabilities that may impede their academic progress, regardless of where these students may be located. Services include notifying instructors on campus, Global Campus or eCampus about the student’s disabling condition and the specific accommodations to which the student is entitled. Adaptive Needs will not alter the academic requirements of individual courses. Each student must provide recent documentation of his or her disability in order to participate in the Adaptive Needs program. Additionally, various types of supporting software are utilized to assist the hearing and visually impaired student.

Writing Resources

Global Campus and eCampus students may contact the Writing Center staff for assistance via email through the Coordinator of the Writing Center at the Troy campus. The Writing Center Web page offers more than 60 helpful handouts available to students worldwide on topics related to research and documentation, grammar and mechanics, special kinds of writing and the writing process. The coordinator will assign the appropriate staff member to assist in meeting the student’s writing needs. Global Campus and eCampus faculty may access helpful tools through the Instructor Resource link located on the Writing Center Web page.

Tutoring

Tutoring is made available to Global Campus and eCampus students through the use of SMARTHINKING. Online tutoring, writing services and homework help is available to students who may need additional assistance in order to succeed. Tutors are available, up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in a variety of subjects. The SMARTHINKING schedule of service for live tutoring is provided.

Exam Authentication

Students in both Global Campus and eCampus take numerous examinations, both online and proctored, and may not always be in a secure testing environment. In order to address the need to authenticate student participation and to proctor exams, the University has adopted a remote proctor system called Securexam® Remote Proctor System that uses biometric authentication and records video and audio testing sessions in the comfort of the student’s residence. This newly adopted technology is now being integrated across business programs with other programs to follow.

Advising

As stated in the Section 3.9.3 of the Faculty Handbook, “…a basic objective of Troy University is to assist each student to develop his/her interests and aptitudes in order to realize full personal and professional potential [therefore] the University places special emphasis on the role of its faculty in the academic advising of students. All full-time faculty members are expected to advise students.…”

Under the guidance of the Coordinator of Academic Advising, Troy University publishes a Guide for Academic Advisers that provides faculty advisers with pertinent information on current aspects of advising.  All academic advising is based on the common Undergraduate Catalog and Graduate Catalog, and location-specific scheduling and registration procedures are managed by the appropriate registrar.

Additional advisement of eCampus students is provided by professional staff members and/or faculty members as appropriate.  eCampus students, upon being accepted, are sent a series of emails that identify the student’s professional adviser and other information critical to student success.  Faculty give advice related to academic matters, while professional advisers assist with administrative procedures. Sample emails are provided. Both faculty and professional advisers discuss online the students’ career interests, needs and goals, and assist in planning course schedules and degree plans. 

Students enrolled through a Global Campus or eCampus are also assigned a Troy University office in their geographical regions where they will receive academic and student support services. Students enrolled through the Global Campus, including eCampus, have access to equivalent student support services as other Troy students. Examples of student support are provided through the various Web pages and links provided below.

Web Advising and Content Management

Utilizing Trojan WebExpress, all students may conduct an electronic program evaluation or “Web advising” in a matter of seconds in order to determine their current academic progress or to check course grades that are immediately electronically posted by faculty each term or semester.

The University maintains a robust and sophisticated Web presence, including a Web site for students and faculty support, a student interface (Trojan Web Express) with the student database system (Datatel), and a customized content management system site (Blackboard). Online courses utilize the Blackboard Content Management System, that provides Global Campus and eCampus faculty and students immediate feedback on review quizzes, thereby helping to identify gaps in student knowledge. Faculty members teaching online are required to undergo Blackboard training (TOP - Teaching Online Proficiency) and complete mandatory updates of new features of the system before they are allowed to teach using the Blackboard system. Faculty tutorials for using enhanced features in Blackboard are available in an online format under the Faculty Training link within Blackboard. Student support modules are also provided at this location.

Trojan Web Mail

Each student is provided with a Trojan Web Mail account. Trojan Web Mail, the email system for the University, allows students to communicate freely with instructors and other University personnel to support learning, as well as administrative and social needs. Trojan Web Express also provides all students access to their grades, degree plan, and current progress to degree (academic evaluation) reports. Regardless of location, all students may log on globally and access their academic records or communicate via Trojan Web Mail to Troy faculty and staff.

Technology Support

Technology support is also provided around the clock via an Information Technology Help Desk and Blackboard Help Desk.  eCampus students who have a problem accessing an assignment posted on Blackboard may contact the help desk and be guided through the corrective process. Students and faculty always have someone to communicate with regarding technology problems or concerns.

Library Services

Library services are readily available online to Global Campus and eCampus students. The Troy University Library Web page has links to all electronic databases, the electronic reserves, interlibrary loan request forms, and Ask a Librarian around the clock chat service.  Additionally, the Troy Global Campus, including eCampus, has established a Troy Global Campus Library Services Web page that provides information and links related to Troy University Library services and link specifically designed to support faculty.  These services include the Troy Library Web page, the Library Catalog (WebCat), Library Collection, Live Chat, and Ask a Librarian. Library support services are made available online on a 24 hour a day, seven day a week basis. Located on the Troy Library home page are links to the Library’s around the clock chat-service, email Ask a Librarian, the ERES electronic reserves, and a link to initiate interlibrary loan (ILL) requests. Global Campus and eCampus students have the same anytime, real-time access to a librarian throughout the year at Troy University. Some Global Campus sites have physical libraries available to support student and faculty academic needs. All collections are coordinated through the Dean of Libraries located on the Troy campus.

Orientation

Student orientation at Global Campus sites involves a personal (face to face) orientation with a site representative prior to enrolling, followed by an online orientation module. The online orientation involves a comprehensive discussion of University policies and procedures regarding scheduled courses, registration, financial aid, and other requirements necessary to progress through a program of study at Troy University.   

Faculty Support

Faculty support and orientation for the Global Campus and eCampus are available online for easy access under the New Employees link on the University’s Web site.  This page includes step-by-step instructions on how to gain access to the services necessary for performing a job.  Additionally, eCampus provides an eCampus faculty area online that includes suggestions and tips to help faculty better organize the term and classes, as well as links to the academic calendar and eCampus newsletter. The Information Technology department Web page provides self-help tutorials on University supported software and a list of frequently asked questions regarding issues such as hardware requirements, resetting of passwords, software needs and support, network blockers and updates.

Assessment of Academic Support – Global Campus and eCampus

Data collected from the 2007-2008 Graduating Student Survey demonstrate that student academic support is not only adequate to meet Global Campus student needs but is also perceived similarly to services available at Alabama campuses. The percentage of students rating overall academic support services as “good” or “excellent” in eCampus  (88.6%) and at Global Campus sites (82.8%) compares favorably with the satisfaction of students attending Alabama campuses (82.5%).  Table 1 presents a summary of student survey data that supports Troy University’s ability to deliver adequate academic support to all students regardless of location or delivery method. 

3.13.1 Table 1.  Percentage of student respondents who rated academic support as average or better in meeting educational needs. (Source: 2007-2008 Graduating Student Survey)

 

Global Campus
(U.S. & International sites)
eCampus Alabama Campuses

Library Support Services

88%

90%

86%

Academic Advising

83%

77%

83%

Registration

90%

94%

84%

Student Orientation

86%

88%

86%

Computer Labs/Learning Centers

83%

N/A

86%

The survey items related to Student Perceptions of Student Support Services, Crosstabulations by Campus from the 2007-2008 Graduating Student Survey provides highly supportive data for both Global Campus and eCampus locations. Areas of possible review include: program quality, academic advising, faculty accessibility, communication between faculty and students, registration procedures, new student orientation, library and writing center. Survey evidence documents that academic support services are provided and appropriate for all faculty and students regardless of program location or format.

Comprehensive Standard 3.7.3 and Distance Learning

Troy University supports its faculty in a variety of ways, as noted by the off-site committee.  This institutional support extends to all faculty members, including those engaged in distance learning.  Faculty members at all locations and those teaching online are represented on the various committees devoted to faculty development.  The following sections offer explicit documentation regarding Troy University’s support of all faculty members in their professional development as noted in the University’s Faculty Handbook and other policy materials.

Grant Writing, Workshops and Fund

In the year from fall 2007 to fall 2008, the Office of Sponsored Programs offered a variety of workshops to assist Troy University faculty members in their grant writing activities.  More than 200 faculty members participated in these workshops.  These faculty members represented all four of Troy University’s Alabama campuses as well as sites in its Global Campus.  A complete participant list showing campus/site locations is provided. 

Since the merger of the separately accredited Troy State University campuses into a single Troy University in August 2005, the institution’s faculty has generated almost $100 million of grants and contracts.  These faculty members represent the University’s four Alabama campuses as well as its Global Campus.  Each of these faculty members, regardless of location, is supported in his or her grant-writing efforts by the Office of Sponsored Programs.  A complete listing of all grant and contract activity since August 2005 is provided.

Additionally, the Office of Sponsored Programs has recently created a competitive process to assist writers through specific types of pre-grant funding.  This fund is open to all full-time Troy University faculty members regardless of location.  Information about this fund and its inclusive support of Troy University faculty can be found at the Office of Sponsored Programs Web site.

Faculty Development Committee

As noted in the Compliance Report Comprehensive Standard 3.7.3, Troy University supports its faculty through the activities of its Faculty Development Committee.  This committee disperses monies, through a prescribed process, to support faculty travel to professional conferences as well as faculty research projects.  Members of the Faculty Development Committee represent the faculty at all Troy University campus locations, including the Global Campus as the Faculty Development Committee roster demonstrates.   As the FDC roster suggests, each of the five University campuses (Troy, Dothan, Montgomery, Phenix City and Global Campus, which includes eCampus) have specific representation.  Additionally, the representatives from each of the five University colleges (Arts and Sciences, Business, Communication and Fine Arts, Education, and Health and Human Services) are selected in a college-wide electoral process and may come from any campus or site within the University.  For 2008-09, the college representatives are from the Troy, Montgomery and Phenix City campuses.

All full-time Troy University faculty members, regardless of location and including those faculty members who deliver online courses, are eligible to submit proposals to and receive support from the Faculty Development Committee.  Each type of committee support contains the following eligibility statement (example shown is for professional presentation grants):

Eligibility

Regular teaching faculty members of Troy University, with tenure or in tenure-track positions, are eligible to receive a Paper Presentation Grant.

In 2008, the Faculty Development Committee received proposals from, and supported various instructional and research activities by, faculty from each of the University’s four Alabama campuses as well as its Global Campus.  In addition to Troy campus faculty, the other campuses were represented with support in 2008 for 16 faculty members. Several of these recipients received support for multiple grants over the course of the calendar year.

3.13.1 Table 2. Distribution of FDC grant recipients
Location Number of grant recipients
Dothan Four FDC grant recipients
Montgomery Five FDC grant recipients
Phenix City Three FDC grant recipients
Global Campus Four FDC grant recipients

International Travel/Chancellor’s International Initiative

In 2007-08, thirty-one University faculty from throughout the institution’s various locations made inquiries and/or submitted proposals to receive support for international travel from the Chancellor’s International Initiative.  This Initiative was discussed in greater detail in Compliance Report Comprehensive Standard 3.7.3.  Of the 31 faculty members who made inquiries and/or submitted proposals and received funding support, almost one-third (10 of 31) came from campuses and sites besides the Troy Campus:

3.13.1 Table 3. Chancellor’s
International Initiative Distribution
R Bynum Dothan Campus
M.C. Colley Phenix City Campus
R. Davis Dothan Campus
T. Esteves Global Campus
J. Harrington Montgomery Campus
A. Krishnamoorthy Global Campus
L. Lipscomb Montgomery Campus
F. Meine Global Campus
G. Norman Montgomery Campus
M. Rippy Dothan Campus

The Chancellor’s International Initiative, by policy and in practice, is open to all Troy University full-time faculty members, regardless of campus or site, including those full-time faculty members who deliver online courses through eCampus.

Departmental Travel Support

Full-time faculty, at all campuses and sites, including those who teach online, are also supported professionally through their individual departments.  Typical of this support are funds to travel for the purposes of professional conferences.  Evidence of these travel budgets can be noted in the University’s detailed budget materials for each college, campus and department.  If desired, these materials will be made available to the on-site committee members for review during the visit to the Troy campus.

eCampus Colloquium

For the past ten years, Troy University has conducted an eCampus Colloquium open to all faculty who are interested in teaching online courses.  The 2007 eCampus Colloquium featured Dr. David Pierce Snyder as the keynote speaker addressing “The Future of Online Learning.”  In 2008, the colloquium’s keynote speaker was John Baldoni on “How Great Communicators Make Things Happen.”  The 2009 eCampus Colloquium will be offered for the first time in a fully online format and will focus on “Tech Savvy Teaching for Global Online Students.”

The University’s  annual eCampus colloquium is open to all University faculty members regardless of location.  Additionally, the workshop presenters at these colloquia, who are typically University faculty, represent all five major campuses of the University:  Troy, Dothan, Montgomery, Phenix City and Global Campus.

Summary

For over a decade, Troy University has developed its expertise in providing online education that is directed by the faculty, that provides excellent academic and administrative support to students, and that invests significantly in the professional development of the faculty members who teach online, many of whom also teach in the face-to-face classroom setting.  The University has maintained close contact with SACS through the review and approval of Substantive Change Prospectuses and through the reaffirmation process.  Troy University respectfully finds that it remains in compliance with the requirements of comprehensive standards 3.4.1, 3.4.9 and 3.7.3.

 

Supporting Documentation Location
2007-2008 OSP Webcast Attendees http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/fr03-07-03/
2007-2008_OSP_Webcast_Attendees.pdf
Adaptive Needs http://www.troy.edu/ecampus/studentservices/adaptiveneeds.htm
Ask a Librarian mailto:libhelp@troy.edu
Blackboard Content Management System http://troy.blackboard.com/
Blackboard Support http://www.troy.edu/bbhelp/
Compliance Report http://sacs.troy.edu/compliance.html
Comprehensive Standard 3.4.1 http://sacs.troy.edu/reports/03-04-01.html
Comprehensive Standard 3.4.9 http://sacs.troy.edu/reports/03-04-09.html
Comprehensive Standard 3.7.3 http://sacs.troy.edu/reports/03-07-03.html
Curriculum / Discipline Committees http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/curr-committ/
eCampus Colloquium http://www.troy.edu/ecampus/colloquium/presentations/
eCampus Orientation http://www.troy.edu/ecampus/orientation.htm
eCampus Syllabus Format http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/distancelearning/eCampus-Syllabus-Format.pdf
Faculty Development Committee http://stars.troy.edu/troy_website/fdc.html
Faculty Handbook, 2008 Edition http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/Faculty-Handbook-2008-Edition.pdf
Focused Report, Section 3.4.1 http://sacs.troy.edu/focused-report/03-04-01.html
Global Campus Library http://uclibrary.troy.edu/
Graduate Academic Council http://stars.troy.edu/troy_website/gac.html
Grant and Contract Activity Summary http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/Grant-and-Contract-Activity-Summary.pdf
Guide for Academic Advisers http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/03-04-09/Guide-for-Academic-
Advisers-07-08.pdf
Information Technology https://it.troy.edu
Institutional Effectiveness Committee http://stars.troy.edu/troy_website/iec.html
Library Collection http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/fr03-13-01/CollectionDev.pdf
Live Chat http://library.troy.edu/chat.html
New Employees, Information Technology http://it.troy.edu/Staff/new.html
Office of Sponsored Programs http://www.troy.edu/osp/
Paper Presentation Graphs (Faculty Development Committee) http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/fr03-07-03/
Paper_Presentation_Grants.pdf
Sample E-mails http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/fr03-04-09/sample-emails/
Securexam® Remote Proctor System http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/remote_proctor.pdf
SMARTTHINKING Handbook http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/smarthinkinghandbook.pdf
Student Perceptions of Student Support Services, Crosstabulations by Campus http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/fr03-04-09/CampusComparison.pdf
Student Support Services, Augusta, Ga. http://augusta.troy.edu/currentstudents.cfm
Student Support Services, eCampus http://www.troy.edu/ecampus/studentservices/
Student Support Services, Global Campus Sharjah Location http://www.shjcollege.ac.ae/
Student Support Services, Global Campus Putra Location http://www.iputra.edu.my/
Substantive Change Proposal for Distance Learning Site Ft. Walton Beach, Florida http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/distancelearning/
Substantive_Change_Proposal_DL_Ft_Walton.pdf
Substantive Change Proposal for Expansion of Distance Learning, Troy State University, Phenix City, and University College http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/distancelearning/
Substantive_Change_Proposal_for_Expansion_
of_DL_Troy_State_Univ_PC_and_UC.pdf
Substantive Change Proposal for Expansion of Distance Learning, Troy State University, Phenix City and University College (June 2001 Update) http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/distancelearning/
Substantive_Change_Proposal_June_2001_Update.pdf
Teaching Online Proficiency (Blackboard Training) http://www.troy.edu/bbhelp/blackboardpolicy.html
Trojan Web Express http://www.troy.edu/webexpress.htm
Troy University Libraries http://library.troy.edu/
Undergraduate Academic Council http://stars.troy.edu/troy_website/uac.html
Vision 2010: Strategic Plan 2005-2010 http://sacs.troy.edu/reference/Vision2010.pdf
WebCat, Library Catalog http://troy.sirsi.net/uhtbin/cgisirsi/x/0/0/49
Writing Center http://troy.troy.edu/writingcenter/

 

Last Updated: 02/02/2009