Glossary of Policy Terminology

The Two Big P's: Policies and Procedures

Policies

Statements that set expectations for decisions made, or actions taken by, members of the university community related to the rights and duties of, as well as the terms and conditions of engagement for, students, faculty, and staff.  Typically, policies are:

  • described as the “what” (rather than the “how’)
  • characterized by an expectation of longevity
  • general statements, but can vary in degrees of specificity depending on their nature and complexity
  • subject to a formal review and approval process
  • documented in a narrative format

Procedures

A set of established instructions, steps, or methods for the implementation, enforcement or administration of a university policy.  Typically, procedures are:

  • described as the “how” (rather than the “what”)
  • provided to supplement a policy with specifics and complete the information needed by affected members of the university community (users)
  • action-oriented, outlining the steps needed, their sequence, and if applicable, their timing
  • not considered to be a policy in and of themselves, but can rise to the level of policy if they involve matters of broad importance or deep concern to the university community
  • if considered policy, are subject to a formal review and approval process
  • documented in a step-by-step format

Other General Policy-Related Terminology

Practices

Customary ways of managing operations, conducting business, or performing academic and administrative tasks within colleges, divisions, and departments across the university.  Typically, practices are:

  • informal but widely understood
  • influenced or shaped by university policies
  • if documented, distributed internally within colleges, divisions, or departments for consistency and business continuity purposes; not distributed university-wide

Principles

Fundamental truths or beliefs that serve as the basis for a policy, procedures, and other conduct within the university.  Typically, principles:

  • provide guidance to individuals responsible for making decisions or taking action, based on the policy or procedure 
  • are referred to as guiding principles 
  • are presented in a way that clarifies, if there are competing principles, how they are balanced or prioritized 
  • are found in the rationale section of an RIT policy  

Processes

High-level, broad, or multi-faceted actions or operations within the university; for example, the admissions process, hiring process, or student conduct process. Typically, processes are:

  • more general than procedures
  • descriptive rather than instructional
  • referenced in university policies and procedures, but not used formally as a term to mean a policy or procedure

Standards

Requirements, models or benchmarks adopted or established within the university by authority, custom, or general consent.  Typically, standards are: 

  • developed and promulgated by offices with specific knowledge and expertise
  • subject to change
  • able to be audited on the basis of quantitative or go/no go metrics
  • documented in a narrative or outline format
  • formal

RIT-Specific Policy Terminology

Administrative Policy Library (APL)

The APL is a portal on the university policy website.  Its table of contents provides links to the authoritative versions of administrative policies on the websites of primary responsible offices.  APL policies include areas such as academic administration, development and alumni relations, event planning, finance and budget, facilities, human resources, and sponsored research. 

Authoritative Version

This term is used to identify the official version of a governance or administrative policy or procedure. Any reference to a university-level governance or administrative policy must do so via a hyperlink to the authoritative version.  Authoritative versions of governance policies reside in the Governance Policy Library.  Authoritative versions of administrative policies reside on the websites of primary responsible offices.  They also can be accessed in the table of contents of the Administrative Policy Library

Institute Policies & Procedures Manual (IPPM)/The Green Book

The Institute Policies and Procedures Manual (IPPM) was the hard-copy repository for university-level policies from the mid-1980's through the mid-2000's. Because the manual was produced in a large green notebook, it quickly became known as “the green book.” Policies and procedures in The Green Book that were new or revised in the previous year were printed and distributed campus-wide annually to officially update the manuals.  Although the last official print updates were distributed in 2006, many faculty and staff continued to use The Green Book when referring to the web version of the IPPM.  The web version of the IPPM was incorporated into a new university policy website in 2012 and renamed the Governance Policy Library. 

Governance Policy Library (GPL)     

The GPL resides on the university policy website.  Its table of contents provides links to the authoritative versions of governance policies reviewed and approved by Academic Senate and Institute Council.  GPL policies include those that govern the conduct of faculty, staff, and students university-wide, as well as educational, faculty, and staff policies. 

People Terminology - Employees

Many policies apply to, or require action on the part of, staff, faculty, or administrators on different levels, either university-wide or in specific areas, such as departments, colleges, or divisions.  To simplify and standardize policy language, the following terms apply to individuals whose responsibilities are aligned with the definitions, regardless of their position titles. 

Employees.  An inclusive term to describe individuals hired by the university in staff or faculty positions.  The term “employees” may be more narrowly defined in some policies by qualifiers such as regular, temporary, full-time, part-time, faculty, staff, exempt, and non-exempt (see Policy E 1.0, Employee Classifications, for definitions of these qualifiers). Unless otherwise indicated, the term “employees,” however else qualified, does not include student employees.

Supervisors.  Employees, regardless of title, whose position responsibilities include supervising other employees. 

Department Heads.  Employees, regardless of title, whose position responsibilities include supervising other employees, managing programs or services, and often overseeing budgets.  The term “department heads” may be more narrowly defined in some policies by qualifiers such as: 

Academic Department Heads.  Faculty employees, regardless of title, whose position responsibilities include supervising faculty, often also supervising staff, managing academic programs and services, and often overseeing budgets.  (Position titles in the colleges that may meet the definition of this term include, for example, department chair, department head, or director.) 

Non-Academic Department Heads. Staff employees, regardless of title, whose position responsibilities include supervising staff, managing programs or services, and often overseeing budgets.(Position titles in the colleges that may meet the definition of this term include, for example, assistant dean, director, or manager.  Position titles in the divisions that may meet the definition of this term include, for example, manager, assistant director, or associate director.) 

Directors.  Employees, regardless of title, whose position responsibilities usually include supervising supervisors, managing multiple programs or services, and overseeing one or more budget center. (Position titles that may meet the definition of this term include, for example, director, assistant vice president, associate vice president, assistant provost, or associate provost.) 

Deans.  Faculty employees, regardless of title, whose position responsibilities include supervising academic department heads and often non-academic department heads, managing multiple academic programs and services, and overseeing several budget centers. 

Administrative Officers.  As defined by the RIT By-Laws, “the vice presidents are the administrative officers of the university with such powers and duties as are delegated to them by the president.”  (By contrast, position titles other than vice president that include “officer” do not meet the definition of this term.)  

People Terminology - Students

Many policies apply to, or require action on, the part of students. To simplify and standardize policy language, the following terms apply to individuals whose status is aligned with the definitions.

Students.  An inclusive term used when referring to all types and levels of students.

  • Type of Student.  The term “students” may be more narrowly defined in some policies by qualifiers such as full-time, part-time, transfer, freshman, etc.
  • Level of Student.  For clarity and accuracy, policies or elements of policies that apply only, or differently, to undergraduate or graduate students should reference them explicitly as undergraduate students or graduate students.  

Policy History Terminology (see also the standard policy format page)

Found at the end of all individual policies in the GPL, the policy history documents the date of initial approval of a policy as well as dates of approved changes over time.  Several policy-history terms used at RIT over the years have specific meanings.  These include:

  • Approved.  Indicates date when the policy was formally approved by the presiding governance body. 
  • Effective Date. Indicates date when the policy was, or will be, implemented. 
  • Issued.  Indicates date when a policy was transferred into the IPPM (now the GPL) when the Personnel Policies Manual, Faculty Policies Manual, and Staff Policy Manual were discontinued in the 1980's.
  • Edited.  Indicates date when non-substantive changes were made to the policy.  Examples of edits include corrections to grammar or spelling, and changes in position titles or organizational names.  
  • Revised. Indicates date when substantive changes to the policy were formally approved by the presiding governance body.

Responsible Office(s) (see also the standard policy format page)

An office, department, committee, or position responsible for stewardship of a policy and/or maintaining its procedures is referred to as a “responsible office.”  Policies that have been updated to follow the standard format include a specific section titled Responsible Office that includes relevant contact information, such as phone, office location, e-mail addresses, and website URL.  It is important to note that some policies have more than one responsible office.  To ensure consistency and accuracy of policy-related information on RIT websites, one of the responsible offices is designated as the primary responsible office.

Scope (see also the standard policy format page)

This term identifies who and/or what is affected by a policy or procedure, such as “all divisions, departments and academic units of RIT,” “all regular employees,” or “graduation requirements for all degree programs.”

Voting Terminology

RIT’s governance groups generally conduct business meetings and vote on motions using Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised (RRONR) unless otherwise specified. In addition, some policies refer to committees or groups and may include one or more of the following voting terms defined in RRONR:

Majority Vote or Simple Majority Vote.  A majority or simple majority vote is typically used to decide actions by a group.  At a minimum, a simple majority is one more than half of the members needed to constitute a quorum in order to conduct the business of the group at a meeting.   It is computed by counting the votes cast by persons entitled to vote and who vote on a motion.  Abstentions and blank votes (if by paper ballot) are not considered votes and therefore are not counted.   For example, if a group’s membership consists of 60 individuals and the quorum requirement is 40, approval of a motion by simple majority vote requires at least 21 votes in favor of the motion.

Absolute Simple Majority Vote.  An absolute simple majority vote refers to one more than half of the group’s total membership, which is typically more than half of those present at a meeting. Abstentions and blank votes (if by paper ballot) are not considered votes and therefore are not counted.  For example, if a group’s membership consists of 60 individuals, approval of a motion by an absolute simple majority vote requires at least 31 votes in favor of the motion.

Two-Thirds Majority Vote.  A two-thirds majority vote is the most typical form of a qualified majority vote and is often required to pass motions that could affect the rights of the group’s members.  At a minimum, it is one more than two-thirds of the quorum needed to conduct the business of a group at a meeting. Abstentions and blank votes (if by paper ballot) are not considered votes and therefore are not counted.  For example, if a group’s membership consists of 60 individuals and the quorum requirement is 40, approval of a motion by a two-thirds majority vote requires at least 27 votes in favor of the motion.

Absolute Two-Thirds Majority Vote.  An absolute two-thirds majority vote refers to one more than two-thirds of the group’s total membership, which is typically more than two-thirds of those present at a meeting.  Abstentions and blank votes (if by paper ballot) are not considered votes and therefore are not counted.   For example, if a group’s membership consists of 60 individuals, approval of a motion by an absolute two-thirds majority vote requires at least 41 votes in favor of the motion.

 

 

This page last updated July 18 2014.