Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is a policy?

Policies are meant to enhance the University’s mission, set behavioral expectations across the University, improve coordinated compliance with applicable laws and regulations, promote operational efficiency, and reduce institutional risk. These written directives provide the operational framework within which the institution functions. 

Q: What is procedure?

Policies are often accompanied by procedures and/or standards.  Procedures contain the operational processes required to implement the policy. If policy is “what” the institution does operationally, then its procedures are “how” it intends to carry out those operating policy expressions, explaining “who does what,” “when they do it,” and “under what criteria.” 

Q: What is a standard?

Standards set the minimal acceptable limits or rules that may be used to implement the policy. While procedures provide specific instructions, standards set overarching minimum requirements that must be met by all. 

Q: What does the Policy Office do?

The Policy Office:

1) Coordinates the proposal, drafting, and approval processes for University policies and their supporting documents (including procedures and standards);

2) Provides policy development services (e.g., benchmarking, stakeholder identification, and drafting) to policy owners; 

3) Manages the process to review and update existing policies;

4) Manages the categorization and listing of policies on the University policy website; and

5) Can serve as a liason to direct policy questions to respective policy owners.

Q: How do I recommend a new policy for the University?

Submit your proposal to the Policy Office for consideration. The Office's contact information can be found here.  

Q. What types of policies are there?

Here are the different types of policies found in the University:

University Policies​​ - written directives that have application beyond a single unit, informs the reader of rights and responsibilities, or regulates the actions of units as they interact with other units on campus. A University Policy takes precedent over unit policies. Typically, a University Policy should meet at least one of the following: 

  • Addresses a University risk;

  • impacts the entire University or a large number of people or departments within the University; or

  • Establishes a design for operational efficiency or effectiveness. ​​

Unit Policies - have application only within a single unit (i.e., applies only to unit employees, staff, and students working or studying at the unit). A Unit Policy is managed by the Unit and can further limit or specify, but cannot contradict a University Policy. Units at the University include: 

  • Operational Departments (e.g., Payment Processing, Purchasing, Copy Center, Campus Catering, etc.);

  • Academic Units (e.g., schools, programs, etc.);

  • Responsibility Centers (e.g., Arts and Sciences, Office of the Provost, Human Resources, etc.); or

  • Regional Campuses.

Interim Policies - in limited situations, the University may need to issue a policy quickly and before completing the necessary or appropriate review process.  In those situations, the University may choose to enact a policy that is effective for a limited and set period of time, while the University completes the comprehensive review process needed to establish a revised policy. 

Q. Who approves policies?

The Chancellor has oversight and approval authority for all Universitiy Policies. The University recognizes that Shared Governance is critical to effective policy development. The Policy and Procedure for establishing University Policies allows for the Chancellor to conduct his review and make his determination with the benefit of stakeholder engagement across the University community.

Q. When are policies updated?

The Policy Office is working on establishing a schedule for the periodic review of all existing University Policies. Policy Owners can also contact the Policy Office if they believe the policies in their area need revision.

Q. What does it mean when a policy is "decommissioned"?

The Chancellor may choose to decommission a University Policy. When a policy is decommissioned, it is no longer in effect or recognized as a University Policy. Policies may be decommissioned for several reasons, but the most frequent reasons include that:

  • Another University governing document exists with the same scope and supersedes that policy, and these authorities include a Board of Trustee By-law or another University Policy; 
  • A policy may no longer be operationally relevant due to changes in the University structure or processes; or
  • A Federal or State law or regulation is enacted that renders a policy non-compliant and necessitates that a new or revised policy be developed that is compliant with the relevant law or regulation.

Q. Who do I contact with a question about a policy?

Please contact the Policy Office at 412-383-0806 or policy@pitt.edu with any questions regarding the policy development process or the status of any particular proposals under review. Questions about the implementaion of a particular policy should be directed to the policy owners identified in the policy.