As part of an ongoing effort to ensure that Augusta University has comprehensive and up-to-date policies regarding appropriate workplace behavior, and to ensure all members fulfill the university’s mission, the Office of Legal Affairs has implemented a number of changes to the University Policy Library and University Policies.
“A comprehensive and ongoing policy process is a critical component of creating and supporting a culture of ethics and integrity, which reflects our mission and values,” said Chris Melcher, vice president and general counsel for Augusta University.
First, the University Policy Library was moved to a new website to provide a more stable, user-friendly experience. In addition, every university policy has been reviewed within the past year and was either updated, approved, or scheduled for further review.
The office has also created a University Policy Group (PAG) that includes representatives from Faculty Senate, Faculty Affairs, Student Affairs, Human Resources, Compliance, Communications and Research, and is chaired by Legal Affairs. This group meets bi-weekly to review policies, usually every other Thursday during the academic year.
The Office of Legal Affairs and PAG have developed a new “policy on policies” to improve and clarify how these university policies are developed, reviewed, modified and approved. All new policies and proposed changes to existing policies must be presented to the PAG by the policy manager, who is the department person responsible for the initial draft of the policy. The policy manager is also responsible for including all affected stakeholders in the drafting and review process. Following PAG and legal review, policies are submitted for approval to the provost and the president.
Policies are updated no less than every three years. Within the past year, the PAG has reviewed and processed 51 substantive policy changes, reviewed and approved edits of 112 current policies, and approved major rewrites of a number of significant policies. Some of the significant policies that have been updated or changed in the past year include the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the Faculty Grievance Policy, Acceptable Use of Email Policy, and the Outside Activities and Off Campus Duty Policy.
“This process is really a best practice for universities nationwide, to ensure that we have ongoing review of all of our policies so they are up-to-date, consistent with current laws and regulations that are often changing, and that they reflect all of the improvements we make across the university to better serve our students and patients,” Melcher said.