Frequently Asked Questions

Below are common questions about university policy development, approval and management. Click on an arrow or question to open and close each response.

What is a university policy?

A policy articulates standards or principles that set operational and behavioral expectations for persons covered by the policy. A university policy is any policy approved by the St. Thomas board of trustees, president or other position or person to whom the president has delegated policy approval authority.

Who gets to decide when to develop or revise a policy?

New policies and policy revisions may be initiated by the Faculty Senate, by a member of the President’s Cabinet, by the supervisor of a unit, or by the designated policy owner. Depending on the content, scope and applicability of the policy, the new policy or revisions may require the president’s approval or may be approved by a member of the President’s Cabinet or, in limited cases, by the University Policy Advisory Committee. See the Policy Management Policy for details.

What is the difference between a policy and a procedure or process?

Policies are different from procedures or processes. A policy articulates standards or principles that set operational and behavioral expectations for persons covered by the policy. A procedure or process is a statement or workflow providing for the implementation of a policy, or other steps necessary to carry out a management philosophy, governing principles or legal or regulatory requirements.

What is the process for providing input regarding new policies and policy changes?

Every policy has a designated policy owner. The policy owner is responsible for determining who in the St. Thomas community should review new policies, policy revisions and proposals to withdraw policies. For policies subject to the president’s approval, the University Policy Advisory Committee works with policy owners to ensure that there has been sufficient review and consultation with appropriate university constituencies before a policy is forwarded to the president for approval.

In addition, the University Policies website identifies institutional, employee and staff policies that are currently under development or review. All members of the university community are welcome to provide input on those policies, or any existing policies whether or not under review, through the Contact UPAC function of the website. Policy-specific comments and questions are forwarded to the policy owner.

What is the role of the policy owner?

The policy owner is the position or unit responsible for the content and currency of a university policy, for implementation and maintenance of the policy and revisions, and for assuring there is appropriate training and communication about the policy on an ongoing basis. Every university policy has a policy owner. Policies that have been recently established or revised that are contained in the University Policy Repository identify the policy owner. If you can’t readily identify a policy owner, contact UPAC for assistance.

Who is responsible for compliance with university policies?

All members of the St. Thomas community are responsible for compliance with the policies that apply to them. Individual supervisors and President’s Cabinet members are responsible for reinforcing the requirement to comply with policies.

I would like to post a policy on our departmental web page. Are there any rules I need to follow?

Yes. There is only one, official version of each university policy. If the policy is subject to the president’s approval, the official version of that policy must be published in the University Policy Repository. If the policy is not subject to the president’s approval, the official version must be published electronically either in the University Policy Repository or in another remotely accessible location (e.g., a website, shared drive or shared university system) that is easily located, searchable and accessible by (a) all persons to whom the policy applies and their supervisors, (b) the Department of Human Resources, (c) the Office of General Counsel, and (d) members of the UPAC.

It is important that all copies of university policies that are published, distributed or referenced reflect the official version of the policy. Individuals and units (including colleges and schools) may not duplicate, summarize or excerpt policies contained in the University Policy Repository on another webpage, in college or school handbooks, or in another electronic location. Instead, units may refer or hyperlink to the policy as titled and contained in the University Policy Repository. In other words, do not cut, copy and paste the policy onto the departmental page or into a unit handbook, but link to the policy that resides in the University Policy Repository.

Exceptions to these rules may be granted on a limited basis, depending on the particular facts and circumstances, at the discretion of the Office of General Counsel.