Policy Statement

The President of the College has general control and supervision over all matters pertaining to the College and its activities, subject to the advice and approval of the Board of Trustees. Pursuant to that authority, the President approves all College Policies or delegates to College officers the ability to develop policies and procedures for their areas of responsibility, consistent with College Policies. 

Reason for the Policy

This Policy establishes a development, approval, review, promulgation, amendment, and withdrawal process for all College Policies to assure consistency without creating disparate impact on communities within the College and to promote alignment with College values of equity, diversity, inclusion, and access.  By implementing this uniform process, the College seeks to enhance operational efficiencies, best practices, effective decision-making, and compliance with laws and regulations across the College. This policy also helps ensure that policies are easily accessible and understandable, kept current, widely disseminated, consistent, and reviewed and approved in an appropriate way.  If a member of the Emerson community is unsure whether a policy must be approved as outlined in this Policy, that individual should contact the Vice President and General Counsel, who will either advise how to proceed or, if it is not clear, may consult with members of the Committee to make a determination.


  • College Policy—A policy is considered a “College Policy” after it has been officially reviewed and approved through the procedures outlined in this Policy.  Policies that must go through this process in order to be effective are those that fall into one or more of the following categories:
    • Policy applies to College operations or community behavior as a whole, or to the operations or expectations for behavior of individuals in multiple vice-presidential divisions. 
      • Other Emerson policies that govern the activities of a specific division, department or group, such as the Faculty Handbook or a residence hall policy, are not governed by this Policy.  Those policies are drafted, revised and adopted in accordance with their own procedures and when appropriate, in a shared governance model. For example, a residence hall quiet hours policy for students would not be a College Policy, but a policy on brand use is a College Policy. Those policies may not conflict with or override a College Policy unless first approved pursuant as exceptions by the Committee;
      • Note: there are some policies that predate this policy and so, as yet, have not been through the entire process outlined herein. They remain official college policies and, in time, are expected to complete this process.
      • Policies established by Human Resources are typically reviewed first by members of the community through a notice and comment process and will then move to the process outlined in this Policy. In the event that a Human Resources Policy relates solely to Human Resources’ operational administration of a legally or contractually required benefit, it does not require the review this Committee.
      • Policies established and administered by the Board of Trustees are not College Policies. 
      • Policy helps achieve institutional compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations, or manages institutional risks; or
      • Policy is required by or implicates legislation, regulation, consent decree, resolution agreement, settlement, or other external legal authority, provided that the Committee may be constrained in the event that certain language is mandated by law;
  • Responsible Officer—the Vice President (or, in the case of an area without a Vice President, the senior-most College employee) with principal responsibility for the substantive area covered by a particular College Policy and who is considered the “owner” of the Policy for purposes of creation, implementation and timely updating of the College Policy.  A College Policy may be drafted by an individual other than the Responsible Officer, but the Responsible Officer must review any proposed College Policy in that individual’s area and attend the Committee meeting to discuss a proposed College Policy along with any subject matter experts.
  • College Policy Committee or “Committee”—the Vice President for Administration and Finance, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Vice President for Campus Life.  The Committee is advised and staffed by the Vice President and General Counsel.  Other senior officers, staff and faculty may be consulted by the Committee and/or invited to join its meetings to discuss specific policy issues.  The Committee is advisory to the President.
  • College Procedures—Descriptions of the appropriate steps to take in complying with a College Policy
    • To the extent they mandate actions or constraints, College Policies should set forth or refer to specific procedures for compliance with the policy

Statements of Elaboration of the Policy

I. Development of College Policies and Procedures

  1. College policies will be:
    1. Presented in a common format
    2. Formally approved by the Committee
    3. Maintained centrally and accessible to all
    4. Linked electronically to procedures for implementation of the policy
    5. Kept current within the framework of a system an organized system of change control
    6. Drafted and reviewed in accordance with College values.
  2. If a Responsible Officer determines that an existing policy, draft policy, or proposed policy may have College-wide application, the Responsible Officer submits the existing policy, draft policy or policy proposal to the College Policy Review Committee for review.
  3. College Policies must be in a format similar to the sample policy template attached hereto as Appendix A unless they are required to take a particular format by operation of law or regulation.
  4. The Committee reviews the policy proposal and typically takes one of four actions: it reviews the policy, appoints the Responsible Officer to draft or revise the policy as a College Policy, it authorizes the formation of an ad hoc policy-drafting committee to do so, or it determines that the proposed policy or revision does not fall under its purview.  
  5. When a proposed College Policy has been drafted or revised as specified, the document is submitted to the Committee for review and approval. The Committee may determine that the proposed policy should be reviewed by representatives of particular College constituencies; if so, the Committee will arrange for or provide direction regarding such review.
  6. If the Committee approves the proposed College Policy after review and revisions, it is forwarded to the President’s Council for review and feedback within ten (10) business days.  If any member of the President’s Council provides feedback, the Committee will consider it and determine whether to make any revisions to the proposed College Policy. The Vice President and General Counsel will then provide the proposed College Policy to the President for review and approval. The President, in consultation with the Vice President and General Counsel, determines if the proposed College Policy should receive the approval of the Board of Trustees.  Following approval by the President and/or the Board of Trustees, as the case may be, the College Policy is disseminated to the Emerson community as specified by the Committee, in consultation with the College’s senior-most employee with responsibility for Communications and Marketing.
  7. Responsible Officers should ensure that College Policies for which they are responsible are reviewed, updated and/or revised as needed in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, but at a minimum every three years.
  8. Changes to Policies in substance or principle must be approved by the Policy Committee based on the Responsible Officer’s submission of a revised Policy, including a new impact statement, to the Committee. On an as-needed-basis, the Responsible Officer will request of the Committee routine changes (such as new contact names, position titles and email or Web addresses) to an existing policy document. The Committee may also make such routine changes and will consult with the Responsible Officer in the course of so doing.
  9. The Responsible Officer, may grant Policy exceptions for good cause shown, such as unusual facts or circumstances that make adherence to the College Policy impossible or impracticable. The Responsible Office will grant no exception that may violate federal, state or local laws or regulations, including governmental rules relating to grants and contracts. In evaluating a request for an exception to a College Policy, the Responsible Officer will meet the following standards:
    • If there is any question whether the exception may implicate federal, state or local laws or regulations, the Vice President and General Counsel must be consulted before any exception is granted.
    • An exception is ordinarily limited to the particular facts and circumstances giving rise to the request. Should the facts and circumstances indicate an issue that may recur or a broader issue, the Responsible Officer should consider submitting a request to the Committee to revise the College Policy to avoid the need for an exception on a similar issue in the future.
  10. Violations of College Policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or expulsion from the College and, in some cases, may subject the violator to civil or criminal action.  In addition to other manners of redressing policy violations through established channels of responsibility, the College has also established a hotline for discreet reporting of activities that may involve criminal, unethical or otherwise inappropriate violations of College Policies. The hotline is operated 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and can be accessed by calling Ethics Point at 855-659-7662 or making a report online via https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/media/en/gui/34656/index.html.

II. Establishing an Interim Policy

When a policy is needed within a time period that does not allow for complete drafting and review of the policy document as outlined in this document, the Responsible Officer may request the Committee to allow promulgation of that policy on an interim basis. The Committee must give explicit permission to issue a policy as interim. The Committee will establish a timeframe for the policy to be in effect on an interim basis and for completion of the policy through the process outlined in this Policy.

III. Withdrawing a Policy

In special circumstances, a Responsible Officer may deem it appropriate to withdraw an existing College Policy or consolidate it with another College Policy. The Responsible Office must inform the Committee of this intent, obtain the approval of the Committee, which will in turn determine whether the President must also approve of the withdrawal.  Once the Responsible Officer has obtained all necessary approvals, the Responsible Officer will issue an announcement of a withdrawn policy or otherwise make its withdrawal properly accessible in consultation with the College’s senior-most employee with responsibility for Communications and Marketing. 

Key Office to Contact Regarding this Policy and its Implementation

The Vice President and General Counsel of Emerson College is responsible for the oversight and implementation of this policy.

The Responsible Officer for this policy is the President of the College. Questions relating to the implementation of this policy should be directed to the General Counsel, or the appropriate Vice Presidents for aspects of implementation for which they are responsible.

Related Policies

Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation

Date of Initial Policy: April 17, 2014
Date of Policy Revisions: March 3, 2021

[Signature of Lee Pelton, President]

Appendix A

Emerson College Policy Template

The following template should be used for College Policies:

Emerson College Policy No. _____              


  • Policy Statement [General Statement of Policy, including whom it covers (all employees, faculty, staff, students, others)]
  • Statement of Adherence to College Values. [“This Policy is intended to align with College values of equity, diversity, inclusion and access.”]
  • Reason for the Policy
  • Definitions [Defined terms in the policy, if applicable]
  • Statements of Elaboration of Policy, if any [Insert subsections with headings and details concerning the policy, including specific issues or situations, responsibilities and mechanisms for compliance]
  • Cross References to Related Policies
  • Responsible Officer [Provide the Title of the Responsible Officer for the Policy]
  • Key Offices to Contact Regarding the Policy and its Implementation
  • Links to Procedures or Forms
  • Date of Initial Policy
  • Date(s) of Any Revisions
  • Signature Line for the President