A simple, but not complete, answer to this question is “anytime the commission is proposing a new policy or making significant revisions to existing policy statements.” Policy matters, which are a primary responsibility of the commissions, should be highlighted and documented in resolution format for discussion by University Council so that the policy may be approved and adopted by the university community. A “President’s Policy Memorandum,” which is used to announce an approved policy to the relevant members of the university community, will not be issued unless a formal resolution has been considered and approved by University Council and recommended to the President.
There are other significant actions commissions may consider, however, that do not necessarily fall into the category of “policy actions.” Some of these require, or would certainly benefit from, passage of a formal resolution. For example, the approval of a new degree program should be highlighted through a resolution and brought to the attention of University Council for approval. As a general rule, if it is something important, you should probably be presenting it to Council in a resolution format.
From time to time, commissions may be asked to review proposed procedural guidelines and to give their advice to the administrative officers responsible for implementing a particular policy. Generally, such advice is given by commission members without using a resolution format; nor are procedural matters generally sent to University Council for approval. Exceptions to this are those cases where procedures are embedded in a new policy statement-- such as procedures related to reduction in force and post-tenure review-- or procedures adopted by the commissions themselves for conducting the business with which they are charged-- examples are procedures for reviewing new graduate degree programs or CUSP procedures for approving courses. These were cases where important, new procedures required discussion and agreement by the broader university community and hence attention by University Council.
An effective resolution is one that conveys a sense of the issue or problem that led to the proposed action, provides an explanation or justification for the particular proposed solution, gives the reader enough background so he/she can understand what is being proposed, and makes it absolutely clear what people are voting on. Typical resolutions have several parts:
The answer to this question is not always easy, but there are some general rules about which policy items require approval by the Board, based on the state statute which delineates Board responsibilities and on general practice. When there is uncertainty about whether an item needs to go to the Board, it is up to the President and the University Legal Counsel to make this determination. Chief among the issues for which the Board is responsible are faculty and university staff employment policies, appointments, salaries, leaves, appointment to endowed professorships, and related aspects of faculty and university staff employment. Hence, many of the actions of the Commission on Faculty Affairs and the Commission on Administrative and Professional Faculty Affairs require Board review and approval, particularly new policy to be incorporated in chapters 2 or 3 of the Handbook; minor revisions to existing policy are not usually taken to the Board. Generally, statements of new or revised PROCEDURES, as opposed to POLICY, do not need to go to the Board. Policies concerning classified staff may, or may not, have to go to the Board for its approval.
The Board has usually considered all matters related to student discipline. Hence items related to student discipline coming from the Commission on Student Affairs (or from other committees and commissions, such as matters related to the Honor System), generally go to the Board for approval prior to implementation of a new policy.
Typically, the Board has not chosen to review matters relating to the curriculum. Exceptions to this are the initiation, major revision to, or discontinuance of a degree authorization (these also require review and approval by the State Council for Higher Education) and creation or dissolution of a major organizational unit, such as a college or school. Although the Board does not usually review or approve most academic policies, they retain an interest in such matters and are frequently briefed on significant changes or the adoption of new policies after the fact. The Board is required to approve reports and recommendations resulting from the reviews of research centers which were established through legislative action.
The Board of course, has many fiduciary responsibilities, such as establishing the budget, overseeing internal audit, approving the sale or purchase of property and naming of buildings, approving plans for capital projects, and many other issues that generally are not dealt with by the commissions.