Policy Development

Ohio State approves, issues, and maintains all university-wide policies using a consistent process and format. All new and revised university-wide policies must go through this unified process prior to being issued or changed. Different process steps are involved depending on whether a new policy is being issued or an existing policy is being substantively revised, non-substantively edited, reviewed and confirmed current (ideally every 5 years), or retired. The University Policy Process Flowchart provides a helpful step-by-step overview. (accessible policy process flowchart)

The university policy process is managed by the Office of University Compliance and Integrity (OUCI). Individual policies are owned by Responsible Offices charged with developing, updating, administering, communicating, training, ensuring compliance with, and providing resources to promote adherence to university policies that it issues. Contact the OUCI policy director at 614-292-8728 or policies@osu.edu for additional information.

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

  1. The university policy process is well-defined, understandable, transparent, and easy to navigate.
  2. The process sets out and follows a timeline for each policy.
  3. University community input and feedback are broadly sought, valued, and appropriately used.
  4. Policy ownership lies with the responsible office/executive.
  5. Policy owners are responsible for reviewing, updating, and retiring policies as needed. At a minimum, policy owners should review their policies every five years.
  6. Leaders, supervisors, managers, and individuals are responsible for understanding, implementing, and enforcing university policies, university rules, and unit governing documents.

Criteria to Determine if a New Policy is Appropriate

Issues can arise 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; concerns raised by the university community; or a host of other reasons.

Such issues should only be addressed through the university policy process if the resulting policy would accomplish all of the following:

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

*Keep in mind that some issues may be better addressed through training and/or improved communication strategies rather than a new university-wide policy. Or, sometimes the issue can be addressed by revising existing policies, rules, or other governing documents.

The University Policy Process

*Take a look at the University Policy Process Flowchart for a visual representation of the steps associated with various types of policy changes. (accessible policy process flowchart)

Proposing a new policy or a revision to a current policy

Proposals for new policies or substantive revisions to an existing policy are presented to the university's Senior Management Council using the Policy Proposal form. New policies or updates to current policies can be initiated by contacting the Responsible Office leader or policy coordinator, the policy and training director, or by emailing policies@osu.edu.

Developing a new policy or revising a current policy

Feedback is solicited and integrated from the university community and the University Policy Review Committee. Final policy drafts are reviewed by Legal Affairs, endorsed by Senior Management Council (SMC), and approved by President’s Cabinet. Refer to the policy issuance/revision timeline for a step-by-step breakdown of the process.

Implementing a new or revised policy

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

Establishing an interim policy

When a policy or policy revision is needed in a timeframe that does not allow for the full feedback and approval process due to regulatory, accreditation, or other urgent needs, it can be proposed to Senior Management Council as an interim policy. Interim policies may be in place for up to 18 months. The interim policy must undergo the complete policy process within 18 months of its issuance.

Retiring a policy

Responsible Offices propose that a policy be retired when it is no longer needed or is more effectively combined with another policy. Steps in this process include: review and sign-off by the Responsible Office's policy coordinator, Responsible Office Executives, Legal Affairs, and the OUCI policy director, and endorsement by Senior Management Council and approval by President’s Cabinet. Upon retirement, the policy is removed from the University Policy website and archived. The policy owner communicates the change in status to the university community.

Archiving a policy

When a policy is revised, edited, or retired, the Responsible Office sends the superseded policy to University Archives.

Types of University Policy Changes

*Take a look at the University Policy Process Flowchart for a visual representation of the steps associated with various types of policy changes. (accessible policy process flowchart)

Issuance is the term used when a new policy is issued. Issuances must go through the full university policy process.

Revisions are substantive content changes to existing policies. Revisions must go through the full university policy process. Minor revisions or those revisions mandated by federal or state law or regulation may go through an expedited process, as determined by the Responsible Office policy coordinator and the OUCI policy director.

Edits are non-substantive changes (i.e., style, format, grammar) and/or correction of error (e.g., department name as a result of reorganization, other minor, non-substantive mistakes, etc.), and can be managed by the Responsible Office policy coordinator, who must notify the OUCI Policy Team so they can update the OUCI policy database.  Fixing a broken hyperlink is not an edit and does not require an edit date notation on the policy. Adding a website is an edit that requires an edit date notation.

Review and Confirm Current means the policy was reviewed and the content was confirmed to be current. The policy should be adapted to the university policy template and other edits can be made with the collaboration/agreement of the OUCI Policy Team. This happens minimally every five years and requires the signature of the Responsible Office policy coordinator, Legal Affairs, the Responsible Office Executives, and the OUCI policy director.

Interim Issuance/Revision is a provisional policy that may be in place for up to 18 months when regulatory, accreditation, or other urgent needs require the policy to be in place before the complete university policy process can be completed. An interim policy has the full force and effect of a non-interim policy.

Retirements occur when a policy is no longer needed or is more effectively combined with another policy.


Types of Governance Documents at Ohio State

University bylaw, rule, or regulation (terms often used interchangeably)

University bylaws, rules, and regulations are adopted by the Board of Trustees and become part of chapter 3335 of the Ohio Administrative Code. Bylaws provide a general framework for the organization, administration, and operation of the university, including establishing and defining the principal institutions and officers of the university and their roles and responsibilities. Rules and regulations set forth more detailed requirements regarding the organization, administration, and operation of the university, and include rules for the faculty, airport administration, classified civil service, physician governance, transportation and parking, university administration, and other matters.

University policy

University policies are developed through the university policy process and provide specific direction for operations, administration, or programs on a university-wide basis. Therefore, they are issued and apply university-wide. University policies promote the university’s mission and operational efficiency, mandate action or constraints, and must be consistent with relevant laws, regulations, bylaws, and rules. Each policy includes procedures that lay out the steps or process required to accomplish the policy.


Standards and requirements are developed by Responsible Offices and others, establish mandatory expectations, and generally apply university wide. Standards and requirements are usually developed in accordance with published federal, state, or industry regulations, requirements, or standards, and in consultation with university leadership. These governing documents may or may not relate to a university policy. Examples include The Ohio State University Signage Standards, Information Security Standard, and the Graduate School Handbook.


Guidelines are developed by responsible offices and others, and provide advice or recommended best practices. They are not mandatory and allow discretion in interpretation, implementation, or use. Guidelines generally apply university wide. These governing documents may or may not relate to a university policy. An example is The Ohio State Editorial Style Guide.

Unit governing documents

Unit governing documents (unit-level policies and procedures) are developed at the college or unit level and only apply to the issuing unit. They provide specific implementation mechanisms for operations, administration, or programs within a particular college/unit. Unit governing documents should clearly specify the unit to which they apply and be visually distinguishable from university policies. Examples include the FOD Attendance Policy and the University Libraries Privacy Policy.