Policy on Administrative Policies
A written policy creates the parameters for decisions and provides a baseline against which actions can be examined. Rhode Island School of Design (“RISD”) has initiated a comprehensive review of all existing administrative or operational policies and procedures in order to collect and organize a complete and living policy archive. It also will establish the process for consistent policy design and ongoing review, and the approval chain necessary to grant reconsideration of existing policies, authorization of new policies, and possibly the elimination of certain existing policies which are no longer relevant.
The effort will encompass designation of a Coordinator (“the Coordinator”), creation of a Policy Advisory Group (“PAG”), and utilization of a digital archive for publication/archiving of institutional administrative policies, procedures, and related documents and forms.
Academic policies will be addressed separately through Academic Affairs and the appropriate faculty committee.
This policy applies to all non-academic RISD policies that are drafted and adopted after the effective date of this document, and to preexisting institutional administrative policies as they are revised after that date.
The purpose of this document is to provide a structure for the creation, review, approval, and distribution of institutional administrative policies for RISD, thereby establishing a cogent framework for administrative governance of the institution.
RISD expects all institutional policies to be formulated in accordance with the standards and format set forth herein. Policies presented in the standard template will assist RISD in accomplishing its mission, maintaining accountability, and providing a clear context for how the college makes decisions and transacts business. The current, official version of all policies will be maintained and managed in the digital library.
Policy Advisory Group (PAG): a group consisting of four standing members – the Coordinator, the Associate General Counsel, the Director of Employment and Employee Development, and the Director of Risk, Emergency Planning and RISD Property Holdings – and two members representing a cross-section of the RISD community appointed by the Cabinet for terms of two years each.
Procedures are statements that provide for orderly implementation of established policies through specific, prescribed actions and are typically more detailed than a policy statement. Policies may be supplemented by institution-wide or departmental procedures or guidelines that describe related policy implementation practices. These supplemental procedures may be referenced in and/or linked from the particular policy as appropriate.
RISD will ensure that all policies are fully vetted and approved at the appropriate levels prior to publication to the campus and will collect its approved policies and procedures into a unified digital repository. All official policies of RISD will reside in this archive, and the continuous history of their development, approval and ongoing review will be maintained by the Coordinator. This will assure all stakeholders that each published policy is the most recent version to have been adopted by the institution, which in turn will improve awareness of current regulations and procedures, increase transparency in the institution’s relations with its stakeholders, and provide management and visibility into areas of risk and compliance.
In addition to the Administration’s responsibilities to oversee policies, stakeholders are empowered to bring forward proposals for the development of new policies, as well as proposing revisions to existing policies and helping to raise awareness of policies and procedures within their functional area(s).
There are many existing policies that predate these policy guidelines. They will remain as institutional policies and will be included in the digital archives, and will be reviewed prior to any re-approval. The digital repository will enable linkage to the latest approved version of all existing RISD policies from any other sites on which they previously were located and any other sites curated by RISD.
The following process is intended to be efficient and user-friendly in order to facilitate the creation, review, approval, implementation, maintenance, and communication of policies to the campus community:
- The Coordinator, under the direction of the Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration and the Office of the General Counsel, will be designated to oversee an orderly and accurate system of proposing, developing, promulgating, and maintaining policies. It is the responsibility of the Coordinator to manage the standard document creation process and to assist all stakeholders on campus to understand and utilize not only the process but the resulting institutional policies. Standardization of the management, review, and communication processes across all divisions and departments will hold employees accountable for awareness and compliance.
- The PAG will meet quarterly to review and comment on outstanding policy proposals and recommend draft policies for advancement to the appropriate approval office or officer. From time to time as necessary for policy creation or review, subject area experts may be invited by the PAG to discuss proposed revisions.
- One policy template will be adopted to standardize the promulgation and communication of policies.
- The members of the President’s Cabinet will be the ultimate adjudicators for policy approvals and revisions, thereby assuring that policies have been reviewed and considered prior to enactment.
- Posting of college-wide policies will be done through the official online policy archive, policies.risd.edu. The PAG will identify all of the places in institutional communications where a policy reference appears and will ensure their standardization with the official online policy archive. Web pages must link to the official RISD policy archive instead of posting policy text. Print versions may be included in student/faculty/staff handbooks and other publications as appropriate, but must include a disclaimer that the official RISD policy website should always be consulted for confirmation of the latest, official version.
- At the beginning of each academic year, a recap of policy activities from the previous year will be sent to the campus community highlighting any new policies created, retired or substantially revised.
- Nothing in these guidelines limits the authority of the college to issue, amend, or retire a policy.
Steps for Creating or Revising Policy
- A stakeholder (hereinafter referred to as the “sponsor”) may propose a new policy for consideration/development, or a current policy in need of revision/retirement.
All proposals for new, revised, or retired policies must be submitted to the responsible cabinet officer for authorization to proceed. Prior to undertaking development or revision, a Policy Needs Assessment Form outlining the reason for creation or revision of any policy must be submitted to the Coordinator for initial assessment, including a preliminary review of laws and regulations relevant to the policy, a general outline of the substantive provisions of the proposed policy, and formatting according to the policy template. The Coordinator may seek expert advice through consultation with RISD’s General Counsel, Human Resources professionals, Risk and Compliance Manager, business officers, and others as appropriate. The sponsor will also be responsible for ensuring that proposed new or revised policies and procedures adhere to all applicable laws and regulations, do not conflict with other policies and for developing support and training options, if appropriate, for constituencies directly affected by the policy(ies) to ensure that they will achieve their objectives.
- Once this process is initiated, the Coordinator will contact the sponsor to begin formulating the policy document. As the document moves forward through the process, it will be catalogued into the digital policy archive, and all revisions and approvals also will be recorded therein as part of the permanent record.
- After thorough review and completion of all necessary edits, the new policy will be circulated to all relevant approvers by the Coordinator via the online policy management software for acceptance.
- The next step in this process is final review and approval by the President’s Cabinet.
Updating an Existing Policy
In general, policies will be reviewed every two years or on an as-needed basis by the policy owner and reported to the Cabinet. Examples of the need to review a policy are changes to relevant local, state, or federal law(s), changes in institutional structures or needs, and changes in web addresses or position titles related to a specific policy. Review and/or revisions to a policy will be documented in the policy archives to show changes in the document as well as a chronological listing of the revision history and authorizations. This is the responsibility of the Coordinator.
Special circumstances may cause retirement of a policy or consolidation of individual policies into a new policy. The Coordinator will work with the responsible areas and the PAG to craft a new policy as appropriate and/or will issue an announcement of the withdrawal. Retired or withdrawn policies will be stored as inactive but remain accessible for historical reference within the digital policy archive.
Exceptions to Institutional Policies
While all institutional policies are expected to be followed by all employees and faculty as applicable, an exception may be granted, in extremely rare circumstances for good cause shown, such as unusual facts or circumstances that make adherence to the policy impossible or impracticable. All exceptions must be requested and granted or denied in writing. Exception requests should be submitted to the Coordinator for escalation to the policy owner, PAG, responsible vice president and General Counsel, who will consider the request. The Coordinator will maintain a record of any exception for precedential and audit purposes. No exception will be granted that may violate federal, state or local laws or regulations including governmental rules relating to grants and contracts.
This policy was approved as of: 11/18/2018
This policy was last reviewed/modified on: 8/17/2021
This policy was approved as of: 8/17/21
Next scheduled review: 8/17/2024
Office of the President
Office of the General Counsel
Individuals/offices required for review and changes
Chair, Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees
Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration
Office of the General Counsel