Higher Learning Commission

Policy Title: Institutional Actions Council

Number: INST.D.20.010

Composition, Selection, Term, and Activity

The Institutional Actions Council (IAC) shall consist of no fewer than forty (40) members who have been nominated by the Commission staff and who have been appointed by the Board of Trustees. IAC members who represent institutions shall be broadly representative of institutions accredited by the Commission, with attention to institutional type, control, size, and geographical distribution, and shall be current members of the Peer Review Corps. IAC shall include representation of individuals who are academics, including faculty members, academic deans or others who have a primary responsibility in the teaching and learning process, and administrators who have a primary responsibility of providing oversight in an institution of higher education.

The IAC shall include a sufficient number of public members to allow for one public member to be appointed to each committee. IAC members who are representative of the public shall not be, or have a familial relationship with, current employees, consultants, owners, shareholders, or members of the governing board of any affiliated or member institution, organization, or applicant thereof, or higher education agency, and shall reside or have a principal place of employment within the area of the Commission’s jurisdiction.

The IAC shall make use of committees, known as First Committee (Level 1) and Second Committee (Level 2) as identified in this section, in completing its responsibilities for decision-making that may result in final actions or in recommendations to the Board of Trustees. The Commission staff will select individuals from the IAC to compose committees to conduct reviews, as outlined in this policy.

The term of appointment for those who serve on First Committee (Level 1) Committees shall be four (4) years, to begin at the start of the Commission’s fiscal year. The term of appointment for IAC members who serve on Second Committees (Level 2) shall be extended for a fifth year to complete this responsibility. During that additional twelve (12) month period, those members shall not participate in any First Committee (Level 1) reviews.

The IAC shall meet as a body at least one time each year to review the decision process and engage in training.

Academics and Administrators

The Commission will assure representation on the IAC of individuals who are academics, including faculty members, academic deans or others who have a primary responsibility in the teaching and learning process, and administrators who have a primary responsibility of providing oversight in an institution of higher education.

The staff of the Commission will be responsible for developing selection criteria and for implementing a nomination process to assure such representation on the IAC subject to review by the Board of Trustees when it elects IAC members.

Scope of Authority

The IAC, acting through its committees, shall have authority to conduct reviews that result in final action or in recommendations to the Board of Trustees.

Authority to Take Action on Accreditation Decision

The IAC is authorized to take action on accreditation decisions to:

  1. reaffirm accreditation;
  2. approve recommendations resulting from biennial visits in candidacy;
  3. approve or deny applications for substantive change requiring review by a decision structure, but not including Change of Control, Structure, or Organization;
  4. approve recommendations resulting from focused evaluations;
  5. approve recommendations from staff or financial/non-financial panels for required monitoring or changes in the Statement of Affiliation Status.

For these cases, the IAC has the authority to set the next comprehensive evaluation visit date, establish a schedule of required monitoring, and make other changes in the Statement of Affiliation Status.

Authority to Make Recommendations for Cases That Require Board Action

The IAC is authorized to review the following recommendations arising from the evaluation process and to forward them to the Board of Trustees with a concurring or differing recommendation:

  1. to grant or deny initial status, including initial candidacy and initial accreditation;
  2. to issue or withdraw a sanction, including on-notice or probation, except where the Board of Trustees in a previous accreditation decision may have outlined specific provisions for a recommendation related to the sanction to move directly to the Board;
  3. to withdraw accredited or candidate status; or
  4. to move an institution from accredited to candidate status.

The IAC is authorized at Second Committee (Level 2) to review the following recommendations from an IAC First Committee (Level 1) Committee and to forward them to the Board of Trustees with a concurring or differing recommendation:

  1. to impose a sanction;
  2. to withdraw accredited or candidate status; or
  3. to move an institution from accredited to candidate status.

Conflict of Interest

The Commission will not knowingly allow to participate in an action or hearing any IAC member whose past or present activities could affect his/her ability to be impartial and objective in that action or hearing. Therefore, an IAC member must agree to act with objectivity and without conflict of interest when taking an action or participating in a hearing involving an institution. An IAC member confirms agreement to abide by this policy in an Annual Statement of Conflict of Interest, Confidentiality, and Disclosure. This Statement will identify situations involving conflict of interest and provide examples of situations that raise the appearance or potential of conflict of interest. The Statement will require that the IAC member disclose any known conflicts, predispositions, affiliations or relationships that could jeopardize, or appear to jeopardize objectivity and indicate his/her agreement to follow this policy.

In addition to completing this form, an IAC member must also recuse himself/herself from any action or hearing in which that IAC member does not believe, or the Commission determines, that he/she cannot act with impartiality and free of conflict of interest. The IAC Minutes will reflect such recusals.

Confidentiality

An IAC member agrees to keep confidential any information provided by the institution under review and information gained as a result of participating in an action or hearing. Keeping information confidential requires that the IAC member not discuss or disclose institutional information except as needed to further the purpose of the Commission’s decision-making processes. It also requires that the IAC member not make use of the information to benefit any person or organization. Maintenance of confidentiality survives any action and continues after the process has concluded. (See PEER.A.10.040, Standards of Conduct, for a list of examples of confidential information available to IAC members.)


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Related Policies

INST.D.40.010
Characteristics of a Decision Processes

Policy History

Last Revised: June 2014
First Adopted: June 2011
Revision History: April 2013, June 2014
Notes: Policies combined November 2012 - 2.2(d)1.2, 2.2(d)1.2a, 2.2(d)1.2b, 2.2(d)1.2b1, 2.2(d)1.2b2

Policy Number Key

Section INST: Institutional Policies

Chapter D: Decision-Making Bodies and Process

Part 20: Institutional Actions Council

Questions?

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