Frequently Asked Questions
What policies are posted to this site?
Only those policies that apply across the University are posted to this site. Some departments and divisions maintain their own policy pages, featuring policies that do not apply beyond the school or unit, and therefore are not posted to this site.
What's the difference between policies, procedures and guidelines?
Policies set some parameters for decision-making but leave room for flexibility. They show the “why” behind an action. Policies generally consist of what can/cannot or what must be done. They can, but do not always, have an audit implication. The application of a policy is generally University-wide and applies to everyone engaged in an activity.
Procedures, on the other hand, explain the “how” with step-by-step instructions for specific routine tasks. They may even include a checklist or process steps to follow. It may be helpful to think about including procedures in a policy when it is important everyone follows specific steps to adhere to the policy.
The University’s Policy Template includes a “Process” section outlining the general processes and procedures for following the Policy. Departments/divisions may have additional procedures for implementing the applicable policy as long as such procedures are consistent with the University Policy.
Guidelines—documents that explain existing policies or otherwise do not mandate or restrict action—may be adopted at the school, department, or unit level without following prescribed procedures for developing University Policies. Similarly, procedures that detail the steps necessary to operationalize and implement policies may be adopted without formal review. However, documents should not be labeled as guidelines or procedures as a means of avoiding the policy development and approval process.
At the same time, not all communications need to be adopted in the form of a University Policy. When reviewing policy proposals, the Policy Advisory Committee may determine that the proposed policy should be implemented at the school, department, or unit level, or that it should be adopted as guidelines or a procedure instead of a policy.
Questions as to whether a given document is set of guidelines, a procedure, or a University Policy may be submitted to the University Policy Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is meant by "minor revisions" and "substantial revisions" when discussing policies?
A minor revision is one that does not affect the basic requirements, principles, scope or intent of a policy, but instead consists of nonsubstantive or technical corrections, updates or clarifications, such as substituting a new title or new name of a department or unit; adding a reference to a new regulation or guideline; re-ordering information for clarity; or inserting a definition to explain the policy. If one is proposing a large number of minor revisions, the policy might need a more thorough review and potentially substantive revisions.
A substantial revision is one that introduces a significant change to the scope or consequence of a policy. If the proposed revisions alter the underlying principles or intent of the policy, or greatly reduce or enlarge the requirements of the policy, then the revision is substantial.
Can a school or department adopt its own policy on a matter already addressed in a University Policy?
Yes, so long as the school or department policy does not conflict with the University Policy and is made accessible to the University community. The school, department or unit policy may be more restrictive than the University Policy.
Who can address questions related to a policy’s implementation or interpretation?
Generally, such questions may be directed to the Responsible Department for the policy. The designated Responsible Department is typically the office that developed the policy and is therefore charged with the policy’s review and update. The Responsible Department is specified in the policy document.
If you are unable to determine the Responsible Department for a given policy, or if you have additional questions regarding a policy after contacting the Responsible Department, please contact the Policy Office at email@example.com.
Who can initiate a new policy?
Any University school, department, or unit may initiate a new policy by working with their Responsible Officer to prepare a draft of such policy on the Policy Template and submitting the proposed policy to the Business and Financial Affairs Office, Attn: Policy to be reviewed by the Policy Advisory Committee. Approved proposals are developed in collaboration with the Responsible Department for the policy and other interested stakeholders, as designated by the Policy Advisory Committee.
Members of the University community who are interested in initiating a new University Policy are encouraged to contact the University Policy Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the role of the policy advisory committee?
The role of the Policy Advisory Committee is to approve proposals for new policies or policy revisions; to ensure that policy proposals are properly and expeditiously developed, approved, and implemented; and to advise the University community on policy development and implementation.
How are policies developed and approved?
The Responsible Officer will work with interested stakeholders to develop the policy. Policies must be drafted using the standard Policy Template. The Business and Financial Affairs Office will work with the Responsible Department and the Policy Advisory Committee to review and edit draft policies.
A flow chart outlining the policy development and approval process is available here.
How is the University community notified of new policies or policy revisions?
The Responsible Department, in coordination with the Policy Advisory Committee, will coordinate the announcement and distribution of new policies and policy revisions. Newly adopted policies and policy revisions, like other policies, are available in the searchable Policy Library on this website.
Who is responsible for reviewing and updating policies?
The Responsible Department for a policy is charged with ensuring that a policy is assessed in a timely manner, reviewed, and updated. The Responsible Department is indicated on the first page of the policy document. Each University policy will be reviewed by the Responsible Department and revised as necessary at least every five years.