I. General Policy
The President of Rice University, pursuant to the university bylaws, has general control and supervision over all matters pertaining to the university and its activities, subject to the advice and approval of the Board of Trustees. Pursuant to that authority, the President approves all university policies as well as delegates to university leadership (including the Provost, Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts and Deans) the ability to develop policies and procedures for their areas of responsibility consistent with university policies.
This policy sets out the process for development, issuance and maintenance of university policies in order to promote consistency, compliance with law and regulation, and effective communication with the University community.
II. Roles and Responsibilities
Responsible Official: The Responsible Official is the senior leader (e.g., Provost, Vice President or Athletic Director) with principal responsibility for the substantive area covered by a particular university policy and is considered the “owner” of the policy for purposes of creation, implementation and timely updating of the university policy.
Policy Manager: The individual charged with administration of the University Policy Management Program, which includes maintenance of physical copies of all signed university policies, maintaining an archive of changes or amendments, and maintaining the university policy website. The Policy Manager will also review all new and revised policies for consistency, and manage the final approval process. The Policy Manager, in consultation with the Responsible Officer, has the authority to make clerical changes to policies, including updating names, offices, links, citations and formatting (substantive changes must go through the approval process). The current Policy Manager is the Director of Compliance.
University Policy: A university policy is a policy that (a) has broad application or effect across the University, (b) is fundamental to furtherance of the University’s mission, (c) seeks to ensure compliance with applicable law, regulation or standards, (d) establishes fundamental operational, administrative or budgetary principles, or (e) covers any other matter that the President deems appropriate for a university-wide policy.
Procedures: Procedures are the detailed and specific steps utilized to implement a policy. Procedures typically include the forms and process steps necessary to comply with the applicable policy requirement. Procedures should be linked to the corresponding university policy in section VII of the university policy.
Area or Departmental Policies and Procedures: Area or departmental policies are those policies or procedures created by a school, department or administrative unit, and approved by the relevant Responsible Official, to carry out matters that do not rise to the level of a university policy (e.g., parking rules and regulations) or relate only to that particular school, department or administrative unit. Such policies, and any related procedures, are issued by the leadership of that particular school, department or administrative unit, and do not require presidential approval. An area or departmental policy must be consistent with all applicable university policies and procedures. Area policies that are more restrictive than a university policy on the same or similar subject should be discussed with the Responsible Official. Area policies that are less restrictive than a university policy on the same or similar subject are prohibited unless an exception has been approved pursuant to the procedure outlined in “Exceptions to University Policies.”
IV. Elaboration of Policy
University policies are reviewed by and approved by the President, after the policy management process described in this policy and final review by the Office of General Counsel. The President may decide to issue, revise or withdraw university policies on his or her own volition at any time.
The principal responsibility for proposing new university policies, or proposing amendments or modifications to existing university policies, rests with the applicable Responsible Official who has responsibility for the substantive area.
For example, university policies relating to research or academic matters reside with the Provost, who consults with the Faculty Senate as appropriate. University policies relating to budgetary, financial and accounting matters (including research accounting) primarily reside with the Vice President for Finance. University policies relating to facilities, housing and dining, human resources, police and other general areas of University administrative operations primarily reside with the Vice President for Administration.
University policies should be written in accordance with the policy template (see Appendix 1). Written procedures necessary to implement the policy and a plan to provide appropriate training should be completed prior to submission of the policy to the President.
1. Issuing, Modifying or Updating Policies
Should the Responsible Official wish to propose a new university policy or a substantive amendment to an existing university policy, the Responsible Official prepares a draft policy document that is discussed and reviewed by relevant and appropriate campus constituencies, especially those offices which would have significant involvement in implementing the policy or creating or modifying procedures to effectuate the policy or directly affected by the policy. Throughout the development of the draft policy, the Responsible Official should consult with the Office of General Counsel and the Director of Compliance so that issues or concerns may be identified and considered.
Final versions of University Policies should be submitted by the Responsible Official to the Policy Manager with a signed memo and the Policy Approval Tracking sheet (Appendix 2). The Policy Manager will coordinate the final approval and dissemination. This will include review and comment by the Executive Compliance Committee and Office of General Counsel. The packet containing the submission of the draft policy to the President includes a brief memorandum from the Responsible Official describing the new policy or policy revision and explaining why the new policy or revision of an existing policy is recommended. The Policy Manager will submit the packet containing the final version to the President for review of the policy and approval; notify the Responsible Official after it is signed by the President; and post the approved policy to the policy website.
The Responsible Official will then issue the university policy by sending a communication to all departments (“All Depts” email), as well as any other targeted communication which may be appropriate or necessary regarding implementation, procedures, or training.
2. Exceptions to University Policies
University Policies are expected to be followed by all Rice employees, students and visitors, and only the Responsible Official or President may grant an exception to a university policy for good cause shown, such as unusual facts or circumstances that make adherence to the university policy impossible or impracticable.
The following standards apply to all exception requests:
- No exception will be granted that may violate federal, state or local laws or regulations, including governmental rules relating to grants and contracts. If there is any question whether the exception may implicate federal, state or local laws or regulations, the Office of General Counsel must be consulted before any exception is granted.
- Exception requests and any exceptions granted should be in writing so that there is a record of the exception and the reasoning behind it.
- An exception is ordinarily a rare occurrence, and limited to the particular facts and circumstances giving rise to the request. Should the facts and circumstances indicate an issue that may recur or be a broader issue, the Responsible Official should consider revising the university policy to avoid the need for an exception on a similar issue in the future.
3. Policy Maintenance and Periodic Review
The Responsible Official is responsible for maintaining and updating policies in his or her area to ensure they reflect current responsibilities, in conformance with new or revised laws, regulations, or other factors. To ensure policies remain current, all policies should undergo a periodic review at least once every five years. If such a periodic review does not result in changes (i.e., the policy is up to date and matches Rice’s current practices), the Responsible Official should provide the date of the review to the Policy Manager, who will note on the policy that it was reviewed without change.
VI. Responsible Official and Key Offices to Contact Regarding Policy and its Implementation
Responsible Official: Vice President for Finance and Administration
Other Key Offices: Director of Compliance for questions related to policy development, implementation, or revision.
Office of General Counsel for questions related to legal or regulatory requirements and policy exceptions.
VII. Procedures and Forms
- University Policy Management Page (for procedures and resources)
- Appendix 1 - University Policy Template
- Appendix 2 - University Policy Tracking Form
David W. Leebron, President
March 11, 2011
May 25, 2016
September 30, 2022