Policy Development at New Mexico Tech
The American Heritage Dictionary defines “policy” as “a plan or course of action, as of a government, political party, or business, intended to influence and determine decisions, actions, and other matters.” The purpose of this policy statement is three-fold:
- To define “policy” as it pertains to processes and procedures formally approved by the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents;
- To distinguish “regent policy” from “administrative (university) policy”, and to distinguish “policy” from “procedure”;
- To articulate the process through which policies can be developed and adopted.
Intradepartmental procedures do not meet regent or university policy criteria, and therefore are not considered university policy. Please refer to the following section to distinguish among them.
1. Board of Regents Policies. Board of Regents policies have institution-wide application and are intended to be enduring, rather than a response to a particular issue. Board of Regents policies help ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, enhance the university’s mission, promote operational efficiencies, and reduce institutional risk. Examples of regents policies include, but are not limited to: Appointment, Promotion and Tenure, Sabbatical Leave, Travel Funding, and Tuition and Fees.
Policies to be considered by the Board of Regents as regents policies will be identified as such. If and when such a policy is approved, it will be adopted as a formal regents policy under normal board procedure. Substantial revisions to, or repeal of, regents policies also require Board approval. Not all actions taken by the Board of Regents are policy actions, but they still may be of critical importance to New Mexico Tech. Examples include approval of a university budget, selection of a president, and approval of a particular doctorate program.
(Note: The Office of Budget and Analysis maintains a chronological record of all policies approved by the Board of Regents since 1971 , and is the archivist for New Mexico Tech’s Policies and Procedures manual.)
2. Administrative Policies. Administrative policies, also called university policies, are needed to operate New Mexico Tech in accordance with state and federal legislation, such as campus health and safety standards, records retention, financial operations, and rules governing student behavior on campus. The scope of university policies is extensive, ranging from rules governing the university as a whole, to individual departments or offices, including those off-campus.
3. Administrative Procedures. An administrative procedure is a series of interrelated steps that are taken to help implement a policy. Instructions and forms facilitate completing some procedures.
For example, the steps a student must take to receive financial aid, or to register for classes online, or to drop or add a class, are all governed by internal procedures. The New Mexico Tech Student Handbook outlines procedures relevant to students, as well as university policies. The Academic Affairs website provides information of interest to incoming or current faculty, such as how to arrange for travel fund reimbursement and the student evaluation process, as well as those policies that govern the collegiate division, with links to forms and instructions.
Administrative procedures can be amended or revised by the President following changes in personnel or a reorganization of departmental/office duties as the university and its functions develop. Clearly, Board of Regent approval for procedural revisions would not be necessary, although the Board may be notified of any significant changes.
1. Administrative Policies. If a policy or portion of a policy approved by the Board of Regents is found to be in conflict with administrative policy, Board of Regents policy takes precedence.
2. State or Federal Law. If a policy or portion of a policy approved by the Board of Regents is found to be in conflict with state or federal legislation, or if legislation is passed which conflicts with a regents policy, it is the position of the Board of Regents that such policy, or portion of policy, shall no longer be in force. This provision is in effect when New Mexico Tech’s legal counsel or other authority notifies the board chair of the conflict. If no policy exists regarding a particular issue, the university must defer to state or federal law.
The Office of the President has adopted the following procedure for developing administrative or university policy.
1. Concept agreement: Organizers should receive approval on the concept and determine, with the department chair/director/immediate supervisor, all constituent(s) impacted by the policy being developed.
2. Seek input from all affected parties, perform research, and document.
- The President shall appoint a committee comprised of university constituents affected by changes in administrative policy. Members may include, but not be limited to, representatives from the President’s Cabinet, the New Mexico Tech Student Association, Faculty Council, Council of Chairs, and New Mexico Tech staff. The proposed policy should be aired before the person(s) who proposed it, subject matter experts, potential users of the proposed policy, and representatives of groups affected by the policy.
- One example of the process is the revised work Visa policy for non-U.S. citizens which was vetted before constituent groups affected by its ramifications before receiving Presidential approval (in 2002) as an administrative policy. Later, the President briefed the Board of Regents on the procedural change.
- Example two: if an entity such as the New Mexico Tech Faculty Council wanted to establish an academic honesty policy, the originating party would have to meet with all affected parties, including the Dean of Students, faculty and student body representatives, as part of the process to develop the policy.
- Conduct research: Search for similar policies at other universities, and for state and federal laws relevant to the proposed policy.
- Document the process.
3. Write a draft policy. Proposed policies need not have an identical format, but each must contain the following:
- Policy Statement
- Who does it affect? Any major conditions or restrictions?
- Reason for Policy
- Legal or regulatory
- Description of conflict or issue the policy will resolve
- Recognizes legitimate interests of all parties
- Overall benefits
- Who Should Know The Policy
- Supplementary/Related Information
4. Route the proposed draft policy for review by the President’s Policy and Procedures Committee to ensure its appropriateness and readability. The Committee can return the draft policy to the originating party with recommendations for modification, or can meet with policy supporters for clarification.
5. The President’s Policies and Procedures Committee will forward the proposed policy to the appropriate university officer for review. The officer will determine if legal assistance is required before forwarding the proposed policy to the President.
6. The President determines whether or not the proposed policy requires Board of Regents’ approval. The President also has the options of remanding the proposed policy to the originating party with recommendations for revision, or rejecting it outright, in determining what is best for New Mexico Tech and its constituents. Under the same authority, the President may rescind or set aside an administrative or university policy where it is in the best interest of the university to do so.
7. Once approved by the President or the Board of Regents, information pertaining to the new policy is disseminated throughout the campus community as determined by the Office of the President. The President’s Policies and Procedures Committee must ensure that the new policy is accessible to all affected parties