Winners announced for the fourth annual SANsational Awards

sansational award logo

October 19, 2018
Contact: Lindsey Downs

WCET (the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) and the WCET State Authorization Network (SAN) are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 State Authorization Network SANsational awards: International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), Mount Saint Mary’s University, Texas Woman’s University, University of Louisville, and University of Phoenix.

Boulder, CO – WCET (the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) and the State Authorization Network (SAN) are pleased to announce the winners of the 4th annual SANsational Awards. These awards recognize outstanding efforts by SAN member institutions and organizations in developing a high-quality, comprehensive solution to a challenging state authorization issue. Works recognized by the SANsational Awards present solutions that meet the needs of regulators, the institution and, most especially, students. These efforts serve as models which can be adapted or replicated by others.

The 2018 SANsational Award winners are categorized into three areas: (1) identifying where students are located, (2) innovations to manage the compliance process, and (3) notifications/disclosures for professional licensure program status in each state.

  • International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
    • Awarded: Compliance Innovations - Institution policy, tools, compliance teams or other inventive or novel compliance management process.
  • Mount Saint Mary’s University
    • Awarded: Location - How do you identify where your students are located?
    • Awarded: Licensure Programs - Notifications and disclosures for professional licensure program status in each state.
  • Texas Woman’s University
    • Awarded: Compliance Innovations - Institution policy, tools, compliance teams or other inventive or novel compliance management process.
  • University of Louisville
    • Awarded: Location - How do you identify where your students are located?
  • University of Phoenix
    • Awarded: Licensure Programs - Notifications and disclosures for professional licensure program status in each state.

“The SANsational Awards committee enthusiastically recognizes the good work of the institutional winners,” said Sharyl Thompson, CEO, HER (Higher Education Regulatory) Consulting and the chair of the 2018 SANsational Award Committee. She continued: “Not only do their efforts demonstrate improvement at their own institutions, but publishing them through nomination for this award makes it possible for other institutions to see how compliance can be done. It all fits into the partnership culture among the SAN member institutions. We’re here to acknowledge great work and help each other."

The SANsational awardees will be recognized by WCET’s national community of higher education innovators during the 30th WCET Annual Meeting in Portland Oregon October 23-25, 2018.

Webcasts to highlight the SANsational award winners will be held in late 2018 and early 2019. For more information on the webcast and the awards, please visit the WCET SAN website.

Further Information on 2018 Award Winners

International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

Awarded: Compliance Innovations

Given the ongoing complexities and changes to compliance matters on an accreditation, state, federal and Department of Defense level and seeing its negative ramifications on unprepared schools in audits and compliance visits, the ISSA developed what we call our "nuclear football." It is in essence a digital file folder found in Google Drive, but most importantly a physical accordion file folder that has all compliance level documentation in one accordion location for immediate and ready access upon request by any auditor at any time; announced or unannounced. To ensure ISSA’s ongoing effectiveness to understand all that is contained within the "nuclear football," the ISSA created the Institutional Research, Analytics, and Decision Support Team which is comprised of higher C-level Administrators. Institutional effectiveness is monitored in three areas: academics, operations and financials, with the goals of integrity, accuracy and efficiency.

The physical file folder and shared Google Drive folder are accessible to all the primary upper management. In the event any one or more of the "Chiefs" is out of the office during an unannounced audit or visit, any other "Chief" has access to the accordion file folder locked behind doors and cabinet in the Chief Operating Officers office. The Chief's have all been trained on what is contained within the file folder and Google Drive and cyclical review is done three times per year in conjunction with our required annual reports and audits for our accrediting body DEAC (March 30th of every year), Department of Education TIV audits (June 30th of every year), and CA BPPE annual reports (December 1st of every year). This ensures all the files are properly updated and reflective of the most recent changes. While this is in no means a breakthrough in innovation we do believe this is easily implementable across all schools and could prove most helpful to the smaller schools with fewer compliance professionals who may not have the staffing to handle unannounced walk in audits or evaluations. Having an institution "nuclear football" and, at minimum, annual training to a few key staff, the institution can have assurance on being fully prepared to demonstrate compliance at any time.

Contact: Patrick s. Gamboa, (800) 892-4772,

Mount Saint Mary’s University

Awarded: Student Location

In order to be able to track student’s whereabouts while taking online courses, Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) established a connected system of communication between central offices and key personnel. To begin, we included a screen in the online registration process where all students (both online and on-ground) must indicate the state or country where they will be physically located while taking their course. A short disclosure was provided (a modified version of a more comprehensive disclosure regarding student location) to inform students of the reason why this information is important to us. The compliance management office then receives a weekly report from our IT department that lists all current registered courses, allowing us the opportunity to intercept students taking courses in states/countries in which we are currently unable to offer courses.

The compliance management office also distributes a monthly status sheet to all pertinent personnel in the professional licensure department, online program department, and the study abroad office. These departments in turn distribute the information to Advisors and other key personnel who may work with students directly (the status sheet indicates in which states MSMU is currently authorized, exempt, or not under the jurisdiction of a state, as well as states in which only select courses/programs are allowed). Additionally, MSMU has one on-ground program that allows students to complete their internship out of state and the compliance management office works with this department directly to insure their students are completing their internships in approved locations.

Awarded: Licensure Programs

To comply with state and federal regulations, MSMU has constructed several ways of informing the general public, prospective students, and enrolled students of disclosure information for each professional licensure program. We’ve developed two sets of disclosures for our on-ground and online professional licensure track programs that we have strategically placed in several locations for ultimate visibility: (1) General professional licensure disclosures and (2) Program Disclosures. All disclosures related to professional licensure are conveniently located on a single Professional Licensure Disclosures document on the University’s external State Authorization webpage. The General disclosure has been converted into a template, tailored by each licensure program and included in our admittance letters, related enrollment agreements, as well as the admissions application for licensure programs. We’ve also converted the General disclosure into an acknowledgement form used for enrolled students during advising sessions in the event a student expresses interest in practicing in a state outside of California. Additionally, each program disclosure is visible at the bottom of each respective program’s webpage for the general public and currently enrolled students to view.

Contact:     Cairesse Grimes, (213) 477-2963,

Texas Woman’s University

Awarded: Compliance Innovations

In the summer of 2017, the Director of Compliance at Texas Woman's University shared a self-audit worksheet with the compliance coordinators on campus. The worksheet provides space to identify the laws and regulations that govern our compliance area, the compliance requirements, whether or not we meet each requirement, action steps, the responsible party for each action step and due dates.
It was useful not only for individual understanding and planning of state authorization, but also for explaining it to other stakeholders on campus. It provides a road map of where the institution stands at any given time and what the institution needs to accomplish to meet requirements and/or goals.

Contact:     Allison Rodgers, (940) 898-3411,

University of Louisville

Awarded: Student Location

The Online Learning team at the University of Louisville (UofL) believes strongly in a student-driven approach to success. As we continuously strive for excellence in this area, we regularly evaluate ways to implement new strategies that emphasize our efforts to become the gold standard for distance education compliance.

We recently improved our process to collect data on out-of-state field placement locations—ultimately eliminating an identified knowledge gap and decreasing inefficiencies. Known internally as the Experiential Learning Tracking Project, this improvement formalized and institutionalized the collection of experiential learning location data, and emphasized to all academic units the importance of having accurate, official institutional data for the protection of our students. In addition, this new process improved institutional efficiency by requiring faculty to report on the location of experiential learning per student, rather than a sum of all students per state. This not only gives us access to the number of placements in a state for each program, effectively eliminating the extra steps previously needed to obtain such data, but allows us to better serve our students on an individual basis.

Through improvement of this process and the subsequent increase in information, we are able to make more effective data-driven decisions, and ensure greater compliance and transparency with both prospective and enrolled students.

This project was possible thanks to close partnership with the Office of Academic Programs and Accountability, UofL SACS liaison and the UofL associate deans—as well as a collaborative dedication to prioritize the protection and needs of our students.

Contact:     Kathryn Cross, (502) 852-7606,

University of Phoenix

Awarded: Student Location

University of Phoenix developed a comprehensive, multi-step system to provide clear information to both current and prospective students regarding licensure preparation programs. The disclosures are available to prospective students via the University’s website, online catalog, and corresponding marketing materials prior to enrollment and, upon enrollment, are available throughout the student’s program, with multiple checkpoints along the way. The University utilizes both specialized and cross-functional teams to ensure notifications and disclosures are current and provide clear and relevant information to students.

Contact:     Heather McLaughlin, (714) 338-6429,               


About WCET

WCET – the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies - is the leader in the practice, policy, & advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. WCET is a national, member-driven, non-profit which brings together colleges and universities, higher education organizations and companies to collectively improve the quality and reach of technology-enhanced learning programs. The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), WCET's parent organization, serves states, students, and institutions throughout and beyond the American West, and is one of four U.S. regional interstate compacts. Learn more:

About the State Authorization Network (SAN)

Working collaboratively, institutions can navigate the state regulations processes more efficiently than working on their own. WCET's State Authorization Network (SAN) is the leader for guidance and support for navigating regulatory compliance for out-of-state activities of post-secondary institutions. Learn more: