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Academic Policy Process

Process for Academic Policy Development, Revision, or Discontinuance

Approved by University Faculty Senate 9/5/06
Reviewed by Cabinet 10/9/06
Approved by President 10/10/06

Introduction

All academic policies must be clearly written and well communicated. In cases where it is useful, procedures should accompany the policy, though they will not be an official part of the policy and may be amended from time to time to conform to applicable business processes. Policies may be created, revised, or discontinued to respond to a specific campus need or to an external mandate. Academic policies should be reviewed on a regular basis and updated as necessary so they continue to serve the purpose for which they are intended. All policy changes must have a formal review before they are implemented.

Process


I. Concept

New policies, revisions, or discontinuances may be initiated by a student group, a school, the Office of the Provost, or the University Faculty Senate.

Student Groups – Student groups may suggest policy concepts through their appropriate student government who will present recommendations to the Center for Student Involvement. The Center will present the concept on behalf of the students to the appropriate school (dean or designee) if the recommendation is school specific, or to the Office of the Provost if it is a policy change that has university wide impact. The school or Office of the Provost will become the proposing entity.

School – Policy recommendations may be initiated by the dean, curriculum committee, or the faculty senate and should be discussed fully within the school’s governance structure. All affected constituencies should be given an opportunity to participate in the discussions. If the policy recommendation will impact another school or will create inconsistencies with other schools’ policies, the discussions should include a representative of the other school(s).

University Faculty Senate – Policy recommendations may be initiated by the University Faculty Senate to respond to external mandates, to resolve academic issues across the university, or to update current policy to better serve the university.

Office of the Provost – Policy recommendations may be initiated by the Office of the Provost as necessary to respond to external mandates, to resolve academic issues across the university, or to update current policy to better serve the university.

II. Policy Draft

The proposing entity shall conduct research for related information, including USM policies, forms and documents required to complete the procedures attached to the policy, state and federal laws that are relevant to the policy, and similar policies at other colleges and universities. This research shall inform the drafting of the policy and procedures.

New policy – The proposing entity should draft the new policy in the proper format. The Office of the Provost’s policy coordinator will provide guidance as needed. A cover letter to the provost should accompany the policy and should:

  • identify the group or unit that initiated the policy recommendation;
  • state the purpose of the policy;
  • summarize the policy;
  • document who was consulted and what research was done; and
  • recommend an effective date.

Revisions to existing policy – The proposing entity should draft a revised policy in the proper format. (Same as for new policy.) The Office of the Provost’s policy coordinator will provide guidance as needed. An accompanying cover letter should:

  • identify the group or unit that initiated the policy recommendation;
  • summarize the policy changes;
  • give the reasoning behind the changes;
  • document who was consulted and what research was done; and
  • recommend an effective date.

Discontinuing an existing policy – The proposing entity should draft a written request for discontinuance of a policy, stating:

  • the rationale for the request;
  • who was consulted and what research was done; and
  • the proposed effective date.

III. Approval Process

  1. Policy drafts, with procedures if appropriate, and an accompanying cover letter will be forwarded by the school or UFS to the Office of the Provost for review.
  2. The policy coordinator in the Office of the Provost will review the policy for format and ensure that the level of readability is appropriate for the intended audience and check consistency with USM policies.
  3. When the draft policy has been reviewed by the Provost, the policy coordinator will forward it to the University Faculty Senate or its designated review committee for review and approval. If the policy recommendation is complex or involves implications beyond a single program or school, the UFS review committee may invite additional people, such as the owner of the proposed policy, subject matter experts, frequent users of the proposed policy, or representatives of group(s) affected by the proposed policy change to participate in the review. UFS will return the proposed policy change to the Office of the Provost with either its approval or recommendation to the contrary.
  4. The Office of the Provost will determine if it is necessary to seek legal review of the proposed policy from the Attorney General’s Office and/or University Council review.
  5. When AG and/or UC review has been completed, the policy coordinator will post the final draft policy on the University website and provide a minimum of 10 days in which members of the University community can submit comments.
  6. The Provost will consider comments received from the University community and make changes to the proposed policy as might be appropriate based on those comments. If the changes are significant, the policy may be returned to the originating office or to the UFS for a second review.
  7. For policies that must be approved beyond the UFS and the Provost, the policy coordinator will forward the formatted final draft of the policy, along with remarks of the Provost, UFS, and the University community, to the President. Upon the President’s approval, and the approval of the USM and/or Board of Regents if needed, the policy shall be implemented.
    If modifications are requested at any level of review, the proposing entity will be notified and given the opportunity to either agree with the modifications or state why the modifications would be counter to the policy’s intent.

IV. Implementation and Distribution of Approved Policy

The policy coordinator:

  • communicates approval to an appropriate distribution list indicating that implementation should be initiated, and
  • publishes the policy on the appropriate University web site.