About Ohio State Policies

Ohio State approves, issues, and maintains all university wide policies using a consistent process and format. A university-wide process provides continuity, ease of access and understanding, and transparent guidance to the university community. University policies are managed by the Office of University Compliance and Integrity. Contact Eunice Hornsby, Policy and Training Director, 614-292-8728, hornsby.1@osu.edu, for additional information.

Ohio State's policy process is guided by these principles:

  1. The policy formulation process is well defined, understandable, transparent, and easy to navigate.
  2. The process sets out and follows a timeline for each policy.
  3. Stakeholder input and feedback are broadly sought, valued, and used.
  4. Policy ownership lies with responsible office/executive.
  5. Policy owners are responsible to review, update, and decommission policies on a regular basis.

Criteria to Determine if a Policy May Be Needed

Issues can emerge as a result of federal, state, or local legislation or regulation; incidents or trends that emerge within or outside of the university; a shift in university values or priorities; or a host of other sources.

Issues that rise to the level that need to be addressed through the university policy process share a number of characteristics, that include and are not limited to:

  1. Support the university’s mission, vision, and values.
  2. Apply broadly across the institution.
  3. Endure across time and administrations; change infrequently and set the course for the foreseeable future.
  4. Establish the university’s position across a range of matters.
  5. Support equity and integrity in practices across the institution.
  6. Promote quality and, operational efficiency, reduce bureaucracy, and provide guidance for managing the institution.
  7. Ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
  8. Must be consistent with bylaws, rules, and regulations.
  9. Manage institutional risk.

The Policy Process

Proposing a new policy or a revision to a current policy

Vice Presidents of Responsible Offices who are members of Senior Management Council (SMC) or President’s Cabinet propose new policies or revisions to current policies using the Policy Proposal form. Senior Management Council and/or President’s Cabinet, in consultation with the Responsible Office and Policy and Training Director, determine if an issue needs to be addressed by a policy or a rule.

Developing a new policy or revising a current policy

Feedback is solicited from stakeholder groups and policy drafts are submitted to the University Policy Review Committee for feedback and endorsement to proceed to Senior Management Council (SMC) and/or President’s Cabinet with the final draft. SMC/President’s Cabinet may approve the policy immediately, ask for substantial revisions, take additional time to review the policy, or determine that a policy is not needed.

Implementing a new or revised policy

Responsible Offices communicate policies to the university community, provide training and information about requirements, and archive superseded policies and associated documents. Responsible Offices also collect feedback on policies and ensure that policies are reviewed and updated as needed or at least every five years.

Establishing an Interim Policy

When a policy is needed in a timeframe that does not allow for the entire policy formulation process, it can be proposed as an interim policy with a Policy Proposal form. Interim policies are approved in 6-month increments, up to 18 months in duration. The interim policy must complete the university policy process within 18 months of its issuance.

Decommissioning a Policy

Responsible Offices propose that a policy be decommissioned when it is no longer needed or is more effectively combined with another policy. Steps in this process include: consultation with the Policy and Training Director and signature of the Responsible Executive, with additional approval as needed by Senior Management Council/President’s Cabinet. When the signature process is complete, it is removed from the University Policy Web Site. The policy owner communicates the change in status to the university community.

Archiving a Policy

When a policy is revised, edited, or decommissioned, the policy owner sends the superseded policy and its associated documents to University Archives at: noonan.37@osu.edu.


Bylaw, rule, regulation

Interchangeable terms used historically to provide a framework for the overall governance of the university. Bylaws govern the organization and operation of the Board of Trustees, its officers, and committees; establish and define the principal institutions and administrative officers of the university and their roles and responsibilities; and provide a general framework for the organization, administration, and operation of the university. Rules and regulations provide a more detailed framework regarding the organization, administration, and operation of the university, including rules for the faculty and faculty governance, instruction and academic administration, and other matters. Bylaws, rules, and regulations are subject to adoption by the Board of Trustees and become a part of the Ohio Administrative Code (section 3335).

University policy

Provide specific direction for operations, administration, or programs. Policies are applicable university-wide and are developed through the University Policy Process and adopted by Senior Management Council/President’s Cabinet, which may additionally take them to the Board of Trustees at their discretion. Policies enhance the university's mission and operational efficiency, mandate action or constraints, and must be consistent with relevant statues, regulations, bylaws, or rules. Interim policies may be approved for 6 month intervals when regulatory, accreditation, or other urgent needs require the policy to be in place before the university policy development process can be finalized.

Unit operating procedures

Provide specific implementation mechanisms for operations, administration, or programs within a particular unit or units. Unit operating procedures are applicable only to their home units(s) and are developed and approved by the unit(s). Unit operating procedures may be more restrictive than university policies but must remain consistent with them and with relevant statutes, regulations, bylaws, or rules.

Other university-wide documents

Provide advice and suggestions to guide and improve performance and operations. Can be attached to policies in the resources section of the policy template or hosted on the Responsible Office's web site.

Policy Process Tools

  1. Policy Development Checklist (PDF) updated: 6/1/2014
  2. Policy Stakeholders (PDF) updated: 6/1/2014
  3. Proposal for a New Policy (Microsoft word) updated: 7/10/2014
  4. Proposal for a Policy Revision (Microsoft word) updated: 7/10/2014
  5. Policy Template (Microsoft word) updated: 7/22/2014
  6. SMC Policy Approval Cover Sheet (Microsoft Word) updated: 1/1/2014
  7. Signatures - New Policy Approval (Microsoft Word) updated: 1/1/2014
  8. Signatures - New Policy Approval Example (Microsoft Word) updated: 1/1/2014
  9. Signatures - Decommission or Transfer (Microsoft Word) updated: 7/1/2014
  10. Signatures - Revision Approval (Microsoft Word) updated: 7/1/2014
  11. Style Guidelines (PDF) updated: 6/1/2014
  12. Gender Sensitive Language (PDF and website link)
  13. Archiving University Policies (PDF) updated: 6/9/2014
  14. Communication Standards for University Policies (PDF) updated: 6/1/2014
  15. Helpful Hints for Writing University Policies and Unit Operating Procedures (PDF) updated: 6/1/2014
  16. Request for Feedback - Example (PDF) updated: 6/1/2014
  17. Template - Policy Attachment (Microsoft Word) updated: 7/22/2014
  18. Template - Unit Operating Procedure (Microsoft Word) updated: 6/1/2014
  19. Timeline - [Policy Name] (Microsoft Word) updated: 6/1/2014