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‘A year of learning’

New policies on horizon – and more than 80 in place


By Jeff Green

A year after Memorial moved to ensure there are no gaps or inconsistencies in its governing rules, more than 80 non-academic policies are now in place – with more in development – creating a roadmap for a wide range of university guidelines in ranging from finance and research to student life and privacy.
Last September, Memorial chose to codify all of its non-academic policies. The aim was ambitious: create a framework to help identify, develop, approve, distribute and administer the regulations. In short, the goal was to establish the university’s overarching policy on policies.

Twelve months later – plus plenty of paperwork, consultations and open meetings – officials have more than 80 policies in place with more set for approval this fall. The most recent was the Privacy Policy, approved on Sept. 11.

A comprehensive website – www.mun.ca/policy – has also been launched, creating a searchable database of all policies, which are categorized alphabetically and by date.

Now employees, faculty and students have a warehouse of official regulations.
Academic policies will continue to be approved and administered through the Senate.

“I think it’s been a year of transformation for the university and a year of learning,” said Donna Ball, senior policy analyst with the President’s Office and the Board of Regents tasked with leading the policy work this past year.

“Today, we have an established authority for policy approval, we have a structure in place to develop, approve and administer policies and we have assembled policies from all over the university’s webpages into one location accessible to all employees and the world, for that matter.”

Ms. Ball said the past year has proven that policies are not static documents that are written and then put on shelves or a website. Rather, they need attention to keep them current with legislation and with the university’s own operations.

Memorial has a variety of policies and procedures outlining the rights and responsibilities of students and employees. The new policy gives the university community instructions, processes, and templates so that people don’t have to start from scratch in writing a policy.

Ms. Ball said it’s important to ensure a large institution such as Memorial has comprehensive, current and up-to-date policies in place.

“The rebel in each of us would prefer that we not have policies, that we do as we please, but everyone realizes the necessity of policies and guidelines and I think people feel a sense of security knowing that the university takes a stand on an issue and that it strives to treat people fairly and equitably and it takes measures to comply with legislation,” she noted.

The new website also offers information on a range of issues affecting the university community including: protected disclosure, respectful workplace, accommodating breastfeeding, and intellectual property, with plenty more to come.

And, as the university becomes familiar with these policies – and accustomed to searching for them online – Ms. Ball said her work continues. She’ll give a number of presentations open to the university in early October and in the New Year for those interested in learning more about the policy framework. She’s also working with Human Resources and Faculty Relations on incorporating policy knowledge appropriately into orientation materials for new employees.

“Without policies, we operate with inconsistencies, random decisions, inequity, confusion, which contributes to inefficiency,” Ms. Ball said. “So a co-ordinated, overarching approach to policy helps us operate more effectively.”

Ms. Ball will be holding two open presentations on the policy work on Thursday, Oct. 2, in room IIC-2001 at 9 a.m., and repeated at 2 p.m. Members of the university community are invited to attend.
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