Celebrating Success: The 2023 SANsational Award Winners Are Unveiled
Published by: WCET | 12/14/2023
In the realm of excellence, there are those who go above and beyond to achieve greatness. Their dedication, passion, and outstanding contributions set them apart, and it is important to honor those contributions with prestigious awards. Today, the State Authorization Network (SAN), a division of WCET – the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, not only celebrates our peers and their successes, but we unveil the secrets that have led them to their award-winning achievements. Join us as we announce the five remarkable compliance processes that have earned our esteemed accolades.
Even as compliance processes, policies, and procedures designed to comply with state and federal laws are unique to and contingent upon an institution’s specific activities, much can be gleaned through shared knowledge between peers and professionals in the field. Thus, it is in that very spirit of sharing and collaborating that SAN’s annual SANsational Award was borne.
Since 2015, SAN, a division of the WCET has recognized that innovation and creativity drive progress in the world of distance education compliance.
In that spirit, the SAN team annually honors these contributions by celebrating these outstanding distance education compliance practices. SAN realized early on that not only are these practices vital for meeting the contemporary needs of distance education regulations and requirements, but also essential for inspiring future breakthroughs.
SAN presents its annual SANsational awards to colleagues and their respective institutions that demonstrate diligence when creating innovative and sustainable processes designed to manage state and federal regulatory compliance for out-of-state activities.
This year, nominations were accepted in the following categories:
SAN offers members the opportunity to submit a self-nomination form that describes the solution they intend to address. The submissions are reviewed by an Awards Committee made up of respected compliance professionals. The committee evaluates the submissions in four areas:
We would ’d like to extend our sincere gratitude to this year’s Awards Committee, each of whom carefully reviewed and considered all submissions and for providing guidance and leadership when selecting our 2023 award recipients:
And the winners are…
This year, SAN presented awards for five stellar project submissions. The recipients for 2023 are:
Noted below are additional details about each institution and their respective projects.
Category: Licensure Programs
Project Title: The Licensure Story: When Obstacles & Challenges Lead to Wins
SAN is proud to announce that The Chicago School, a leader in providing programs and concentrations that focus on fostering a global understanding of growing fields, is a 2023 winner of the SANsational Award for the category of Licensure Programs.
The Chicago School is a non-profit private institution with a national presence, offering over thirty graduate and undergraduate programs in professional fields such as psychology, business, health services, education, counseling, and more. These programs are offered in online/distance modality as well as on-ground.
To ensure compliance with the licensure disclosure requirements set forth by the Federal Government, The Chicago School’s Office of Accreditation, Licensure, & State Authorization (ALSA) team developed a process that determines and tracks where its programs’ offerings lead to professional licensure eligibility.
To bolster their compliance efforts, in 2019, The Chicago School’s ALSA team established an annual licensure audit. This process provides a detailed review of each state’s licensing laws and regulations as published on the state’s licensing board websites. The ALSA thoroughly reviews the laws and regulations to identify each state’s educational standards for licensure and whether the program requires individual approval from a state professional licensing board. Each of the state’s professional licensure requirements is placed into a database. Through this process, information related to existing licensure regulations and any changes is tracked and archived.
Once the research process is completed, the database is sent to the Program Chair to solicit appropriate feedback. As the program’s expert, the Program Chair works collaboratively with ALSA by reviewing the information provided and determining whether the program’s curriculum meets or does not meet licensure requirements, or whether a determination has not been made.
Upon completion of the review process, the ALSA works with the Legal Affairs office to approve all licensure disclosure changes to ensure federal/state compliance. This collaborative process has proven to be monumental in accurately tracking state licensure eligibility for The Chicago School’s programs.
SAN extends a hearty congratulations to this team!
Category: Licensure Programs
Project Title: Personalized Licensure Advising and Disclosure
Innovation, creativity, and commitment continue to drive progress in the field of distance education compliance. As such, the associates at Post University embody this very ideal.
SAN is proud to award Post University the SANsational Award for its groundbreaking approach to advising and providing necessary disclosures to its students.
The associates at Post University believe that personalized guidance, unwavering motivation, robust support, and student-centered education are the catalysts that allow students to achieve their individual academic and career goals. Post University programs shape workforce-ready, socially responsible leaders through learning experiences offered in and out of the classroom. These experiences are designed to promote the exchange of knowledge, expand thinking, and refine practical and professional skills. Founded in 1890 and serving students online or in person from a 58-acre campus in Waterbury, Connecticut, last year’s unique student headcount included over 31,000 students.
Knowing that a simple posting of whether an enrollment could fulfill the educational requirements for licensure in each state required by federal regulations did not fully express Post’s tenet of Post Makes it Personal®, the Accreditation Department developed a program to advise students at each stage of the licensure process.
At Post, students are provided with personalized credentialing advising before, during, and after their enrollments by a small team of credentialing specialists. Starting with the graduate counseling enrollments in 2020, and extending to the accounting, nurse practitioner, and teaching English language learner enrollments in 2021, over 4,500 potential students and thousands more active students have been reached regarding licensure.
As a result of these efforts, students have expressed a great reduction in stress and anxiety, knowing that they have a plan to reach their professional goals before they even begin class and a partner in navigating the complicated path to licensure.
SAN salutes Post University for providing a model that provides personalized service and a commitment to student success!
Winning Project: Embracing Purposeful Engagement for a California Institution
The SAN team presented a second award to the team at The Chicago School for their work in the Location category. Their initiative, Embracing Purposeful Engagement for a California Institution, provides a comprehensive approach to understanding, tracking, and documenting student location.
In response to the need to track student locations for non-State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) participating institutions, The Chicago School’s Office of Accreditation, Licensure, & State Authorization (ALSA), has developed and implemented processes to facilitate compliance with all state authorization activities. In conjunction with state authorization compliance, The Chicago School worked to create a solid and comprehensive process to determine, track, and monitor students declared state of residency and states of licensure to ensure students are well informed.
The process and procedures of The Chicago School’s locations disclosure process follows an internal tracking, audit, and annual gap analysis of all authorized programs and states. Specifically, immediately upon beginning the admission process, students are asked to disclose not only their state of residence but any state they intend to be licensed in after completion of the program.
Students are then immediately notified (via an automated pop-up linked to the ALSA team’s audits) if their program does not meet licensure requirements for the state they chose. If a student continues the enrollment process, they are then counseled by a program expert and asked to acknowledge the information provided on licensure for their state(s).
Additionally, this team has built an automated notice into the student portal if they make an address change. This immediately informs the student if the new state fails to meet any licensure requirements. Should students identify a state the program is not eligible, they are routed to a counselor to further obtain acknowledgment. This process also satisfies the individualized notification federal mandate (34 CFR 668.43(c)) that requires institutions to notify students within 14 calendar days if a determination is made that the institution’s curriculum does not meet state educational requirements where the student is located.
This project has made significant strides in ensuring that The Chicago School’s students are kept abreast of any changes in state licensure requirements thus facilitating matriculation and completion. Well done Chicago School!
Winning Project: Professional License Disclosures
The team at Sinclair Community College earned recognition for its exceptional contribution to the field with its student location tracking project.
Founded in 1887, Sinclair is the nation’s oldest continually operating community college. The institution features more than 30,000 students at its main campus, four regional centers, as well as online. Since 1979, Sinclair has offered robust, student-centered distance education and eLearning-infused opportunities for all learners based on Quality Matters design principles.
For 136 years, Sinclair has heeded the credo of founder David Sinclair to “Find the need and endeavor to meet it”. Accordingly, the Sinclair team continually strives to maintain focus on quality and innovation, sustainability, accessibility, and community alignment to provide the Miami Valley region with the highest standard in educational opportunities. As a result, Sinclair consistently ranks among the top community colleges in America and a top choice for students.
The impetus for this project is rooted in Sinclair’s identification of the need to formulate a response to the out-of-state disclosure requirement (34 CFR §668.43 (c)). The regulation requires institutions to provide direct disclosure notifications to students in programs that lead to professional licensure or certification.
Sinclair’s first step was to collect a list of all programs that lead to professional licensure and create a database that identified if the program satisfies education requirements by state. Then, by cross-referencing student records to determine student location, the database automatically triggers an email with personalized direct disclosure information to students, keeping the college’s actions in compliance with regulations.
Collaboration was key to this project’s success, as multiple offices across campus participated in the creation and delivery of the Professional License Disclosures Database. Leadership from the Provost’s Office, the eLearning Compliance Department and the Research, Analytics, and Reporting Office (RAR) were critical in the development and success of the project. Through such collaboration, a resilient system was created to maintain compliance, deliver necessary information to students, and keep detailed records for internal and external reporting.
It is the hope of the Sinclair team that their Professional License Disclosures Database may serve as a blueprint for other institutions to create an efficient system to fulfill the obligations for compliance with out-of-state disclosure requirements. Congratulations to the entire team at Sinclair!
Category: Compliance Innovations
Winning Project: Elevating the Importance of Academic Compliance: A Paired Approach to Change
Located in Kentucky’s largest metropolitan area, UofL is a public research university with 12 academic schools and colleges and serves as home to more than 23,000 students.
The UofL is proud to be recognized among the nation’s best institutions for African American, LatinX and LGBT+ students. The institution has also been designated as a Military Friendly school, and is a producer of top scholars, including more Fulbright Scholars since 2003 than all other Kentucky public institutions combined.
The UofL is committed to ensuring access to higher education for all, including increasing the availability of financial aid for low-income and first-generation college students and providing additional support and resources for underrepresented populations.
This project emerged from the fact that institutional size and organizational structure can often impact viable solutions to state authorization and related academic compliance challenges. This is especially true at large, decentralized universities where campus units grapple with a multitude of conflicting priorities; thus, securing buy-in can be a painfully slow process.
Furthermore, certain job titles, such as ‘distance education compliance manager,’ might inadvertently lead colleagues to assume that specific compliance concerns do not pertain to them. This, in turn, may cause key stakeholders to question the prioritization of academic compliance, especially when they fail to observe any immediate signs of Title IV eligibility being in jeopardy or that potential fines and sanctions could be levied against the institution.
In a context like this, developing a strategic approach for elevating the importance of academic compliance can be critical for achieving desired outcomes. By identifying where the key stakeholders already were and leveraging two existing university leadership meetings to build trust and to maintain awareness of academic compliance issues, the distance education compliance manager carved out space for academic compliance awareness to spread.
The UofL team assures all that, “This compliance innovation is simple, easy to adapt for any institution, and time is the only expense.” Well done to all at the UofL!
The SAN team offers our congratulations to each of the SANsational Award Winners! We are proud of your accomplishments and extend our gratitude for your willingness to share your ideas and processes with those of us in the field! It also goes without saying how much the SAN team enjoyed our visits to each of these campuses when presenting their SANsational award in person.
For additional details on these fascinating projects visit the SANsational Webpage. There, you will find recorded presentations from each of our winners detailing their processes, challenges, and outcomes. Please note that the recorded presentations are each approximately 20 minutes in length.
Your team too could be winners! Mark your calendars for the 2024 award selection process which will begin in the summer.