The Southeast Missouri State University Faculty Handbook is organized according to a fundamental distinction between policies and procedures. Broadly speaking, policies set institutional goals and objectives. Procedures, on the other hand, detail the specific steps necessary to implement those policies. Confusion between policies and procedures can hinder an institution's ability to respond quickly and appropriately to a changing environment. This guideline, "Policy vs. Procedures," is intended to provide clarity as to the distinction.
Policy: The formal guidance needed to coordinate and execute activity throughout the institution.
When effectively deployed, policy statements help focus attention and resources on high priority issues—aligning and merging efforts to achieve the institutional vision. Policy provides the operational framework within which the institution functions. Policies, understood to include changes in a current policy, require the formal approval of the Board of Regents.
Procedures: The operational processes required to implement institutional policy.
Operating practices can be formal or informal, specific to a department, or applicable across the entire institution. If policy is "what" the institution does operationally, then its procedures are "how" it intends to carry out those operating policy expressions. New or revised procedures may be proposed by Faculty Senate or the president. Procedures do not require approval of the Board of Regents, but rather are approved by the president in consultation with the Faculty Senate.
After the consultation with the president, the Faculty Senate will submit a written response to the proposal. Proposed procedures or revisions, with recommendations by the Faculty Senate and the president, will be submitted for campus review via Newswire, email, or other appropriate means. Comments from the campus community should be submitted to the Faculty Senate and the president within a minimum of 15 working days. Barring substantive concerns raised during the comment period, procedures will take effect as outlined in the proposal. Substantive concerns will be discussed within 15 working days by the Faculty Senate and the president.
The distinctions commonly drawn between policy and procedures can be subtle, depending upon the nature of the organization and the level of operations being described in the statements. Nevertheless, there are common characteristics that can help discern policy from procedures including:
|Focuses on goals||Focuses on implementation|
|Widespread application||Narrow application|
|Changes less frequently||Prone to change|
|Usually expressed in broad terms||Often stated in detail|
|Statements of "what" or "why"||Statements of "how", "when", and "who"|
|Answers major operational issue(s)||Describes process|
Approved by Faculty Senate Bill 10-A-13 December 1, 2010, Reviewed by President December 2010, Approved by the Board of Regents December 8, 2010