Senate Bill No. 375
(By Senators Wells, Plymale, Chafin and Stollings)
[Passed March 12, 2011; in effect from passage.
AN ACT to amend and reenact §18B-4-7 of the Code of West Virginia,
1931, as amended, relating to authority of institutions of
higher education to confer degrees; applicability of
provisions; minimum standards; requiring collection and
dissemination of certain information; authorizing certain
reviews and audits; and providing for revocation of degree-
granting authority under certain conditions.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §18B-4-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended,
be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 4. GENERAL ADMINISTRATION.
§18B-4-7. Accreditation of institutions of higher education;
standards for degrees.
(a) The council shall make rules for the accreditation of
community and technical colleges in this state and shall determine the minimum standards for conferring degrees. The commission shall
make rules for the accreditation of colleges and universities in
this state except the governing boards of Marshall University and
West Virginia University shall make rules for their respective
institutions, and each shall determine the minimum standards for
conferring degrees. The governing boards of Marshall University
and West Virginia University shall promulgate rules pursuant to the
provisions of section six, article one of this chapter for the
accreditation of their respective institutions.
(b) An institution of higher education may not confer a degree
on any basis of work or merit below the minimum standards
prescribed by the council or commission.
(c) With the approval of the commission and subject to
subsections (e), (f) and (g) of this section, governing boards of
institutions which currently offer substantial undergraduate course
offerings and a master's degree in a discipline are authorized to
grant baccalaureate degrees in that discipline.
(d) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a charter or
other instrument containing the right to confer degrees of higher
education status may not be granted by the State of West Virginia
to an institution, association or organization within the state,
nor may a degree be awarded, until the condition of conferring the
degree first has been approved in writing by the council or
commission, as appropriate, or by the institution's governing board in the case of Marshall University or West Virginia University.
(e) To retain the authority to confer degrees pursuant to this
section, each institution shall provide annually to the commission
or council, as requested, all information the commission or council
considers necessary to assess the performance of the institution
and to determine whether the institution continues to meet the
minimum standards for conferring degrees. This information
includes, but is not limited to, the following data:
(1) All information current and future federal or state laws
and regulations require the institution to report to the public, to
students, to employees or to federal or state agencies;
(2) Other consumer information the commission or council
considers necessary, including, but not limited to, graduation and
retention rates, transfers, post-graduation placements, loan
defaults and numbers and types of student complaints;
(3) A detailed explanation of financial operations including,
but not limited to, policies, formulas and procedures related to
calculation, payment and refund for all tuition and fees; and
(4) An assessment of the adequacy of the institution's
curriculum, personnel, facilities, materials and equipment to meet
the minimum standards for conferring degrees.
(f) The commission and council may conduct on-site reviews to
evaluate an institution's academic standards, may conduct financial
audits, or may require the institution to perform these audits and provide detailed data to the commission or council.
(g) The commission or council shall revoke an institution's
authority to confer degrees when the institution's governing body,
chief executive officer, or both, have done any one or more of the
(1) Failed to maintain the minimum standards for conferring
(2) Refused or willfully failed to provide information to the
commission or council pursuant to this subsection in a manner and
within a reasonable time frame as established by the commission or
council, as appropriate; or
(3) Willfully provided false, misleading or incomplete
information to the commission or council.
(h) The commission and council each shall compile the
information collected pursuant to subdivisions (e), (f) and (g) of
this section and submit a report on the information to the
Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability
annually beginning December 1, 2012. The commission and council
each shall make the information and report available to the public
in a form and manner that is accessible to the general public,
including, but not limited to, posting on its website.