Policy Structure

Adopted by the Board of Trustees on June 7, 2002
Amended by the Board of Trustees on October 21, 2005


The Board of Trustees of Lehigh University has the overall legal authority and responsibility for establishing policy and policy-making procedures for the University. The purpose of this document, which articulates a policy in its own right, is to provide a policy structure that will assist the Board of Trustees in meeting their policy responsibilities.  Its intent is to ensure that Lehigh University’s policies are legally sound, meet the highest fiduciary standards, and wisely provide for the future intellectual and financial health of the University and the furtherance of its missions. 

The intention of the Board of Trustees is that Lehigh University will always have a comprehensive structured body of institutional policy that provides a rational and consistent institutional context for decisions and actions by campus leaders and individuals.  Such a body of policy must be living and the policies themselves must be principled, not procedural.  The interests of both the University and the individual should be evident in the policies, and they should be part of a foundation of understanding and trust between the University as an institution and the individual members of the University community.

With the benefits of policy protections that apply to individual members of the Lehigh Community come the responsibility of being informed about current policies and the obligation to abide by them.  The Administration has the responsibility to disseminate the policies well, to provide easy access to them, and execute them effectively and consistently.

This document classifies policies into three categories that are addressed in separate sections.  These categories are University Policies, Faculty Policies, and Administrative Policies.  A final section addresses operational elements of this policy.  This Policy Structure does not limit the authority of the Board of Trustees to enact policy in the best interest of the institution independent of this policy should the need arise. 

In approving this Policy Structure, the Board of Trustees delegates to the President the responsibility for executing all aspects of this policy except those specifically requiring Trustee action.  Required Board of Trustee approvals may come through the Board Committee structure or via full Board endorsement and will always be reflected in the Minutes of the Meetings of the Board of Trustees providing a permanent record of Trustee policy actions.  As a Policy of the Trustees this document is subject to periodic review and revision by the Board of Trustees when deemed appropriate by the Board.



A modern university is an integrated community made up of three distinct sub communities -faculty, staff, and students- working together to create and transfer knowledge. Even though faculty, staff and students have significantly different roles and responsibilities in the larger university community, there are important overarching policy issues of common concern that should be addressed by University Policies and these policies should apply to the entire Lehigh University community.  This section is devoted to the establishment of a body of University Policies.

Although the number of issues that merit a University Policy is relatively small, the importance of well-crafted University Policies cannot be understated.  They can help bind the community together and define Lehigh University for all its constituents.   It is desirable that policies have broad community support. Consequently, effective communication with the faculty, staff and students during the creation of a University Policy is essential. 

The President is delegated the responsibility of developing draft University Policies as needed, either as a result of policy issues arising on the campus or at the request of the Trustees. The final approval of University Policies rests with the Board of Trustees. University Policies should be limited to fundamentally important and broadly applicable issues. Review, comments and recommendations of particular and appropriate groups, such as faculty, staff and students, should also be solicited and carefully considered. This process of review shall include a timely vote of the Faculty, although of course such a vote is not binding on the Board of Trustees.  (There may be occasions when the Board of Trustees does not have time to complete the normal process of consultation, and is obliged to act without such consultation.  In such cases, the Board of Trustees will carry out a subsequent process of consultation regarding the policy adopted, and revise it, if the Board deems it appropriate.) The Board of Trustees should be fully informed of the results of the campus review of a proposed University Policy as part of their approval process.

The President will also delegate responsibility within the University Administration for cataloguing, disseminating, executing, and maintaining University Policies.  



The Faculty, because of its essential role in the educational mission of the University, must also play a unique and critical role in the policy arena along with the Board of Trustees.  This section articulates the broad principles under which the Faculty is delegated appropriate policy responsibilities within the educational mission of the University. 

Only the Board of Trustees can grant tenure, promote faculty, and approve new degree programs, but in executing these responsibilities, the recommendations and advice of the faculty form an essential ingredient.  Consequently, the relationship between the Faculty and the Board of Trustees in policy matters is an important one requiring good communication and mutual understanding.  In particular, the Board of Trustees must rely on sound faculty governance principles and procedures that both guide the daily educational mission and bring important decisions to them.

All university-wide policies affecting the employment of the instructional staff for the educational mission of Lehigh require the formal approval of the Board of Trustees.  This body of policy includes appointment, tenure review, promotion, disciplinary action, and dismissal and will be referred to as Academic Personnel Policy.  

The development of both new and amended Academic Personnel Policies for Trustee consideration is delegated jointly to the Faculty and the Academic Administration -President, Provost, and the Deans of Colleges.  The Faculty review of proposed Academic Personnel Policy should occur within the faculty governance structure and must include a vote of the Faculty.  The dissemination of Academic Personnel Policy is also the joint responsibility of the Faculty and Academic Administration.

The responsibility for maintaining effective university-wide educational policies, procedures and rules is delegated to the Faculty. The Board of Trustees expects the Faculty to maintain high standards and a nationally competitive educational environment for all Lehigh students.  In the unlikely event that the Faculty votes to adopt an educational rule, procedure, or policy that, in the judgment of the Provost, is contrary to the best interests of the University, the Provost is responsible for requesting a Presidential review of the matter.  If a negotiated resolution cannot be reached, the President has the delegated authority to sustain or veto the faculty action and the responsibility to inform the Board of Trustees and the Faculty of his decision and reasons for it. 

To meet its policy obligations, the Faculty is responsible for maintaining an active and healthy governance structure and for abiding by the provisions of its own governance structure.  The policy and management decisions under Faculty jurisdiction must be consistent with Board of Trustee actions and University Policies and meet the same legal and fiscal standards required of all Lehigh University policies.  Finally, the Faculty is welcome to make known to the Board of Trustees, the University Administration, or the campus community its collective judgment on any campus issue through a sense of the faculty resolution.



Of growing importance in a modern university is a third body of policy that rests between University Policy and routine operating procedures.  It can best be called Administrative Policy.  This section sets campus standards for the development, approval, dissemination, and implementation of Administrative Policy.

The University must be administered on firm legal and financial grounds consistent with University and Faculty Policies.  Since the administration of the campus also affects the daily lives of faculty, staff, and students in significant ways, the creation and application of Administrative Policies should be a known and open process and should appropriately balance the needs of the institution and the individual. 

Important campus administrative responsibilities include, but are not limited to, responsibility for student life, finance, business services and practices, human resources, information technology, athletics, fund raising, and sponsored projects.  Because of the size, breadth, and importance of these areas, Administrative Policy should be separated into a set of suitable sub categories and each one assigned by the President to the specific Senior Administrator responsible for that functional area, usually a vice president. 

There should, however, be a basic commonality to the management of these important areas of Administrative Policy.  In particular, the following four steps should be used across the campus to establish Administrative Policies:

The President has the delegated authority to approve Administrative Policies developed using the above process.  The designated Senior Administrator for an Administrative Policy area has responsibility for the effective dissemination of the Administrative Policies and the execution of these policies with appropriate rules and procedures.



The long-term implementation of this Policy Structure will require an investment of time and energy by the Lehigh community. The benefits to Lehigh should, however, far outweigh the effort.  Among the advantages to the University are: a uniform and better understood organization of policies; the elimination of any serious policy gaps, inconsistencies and contradictions; a wider campus understanding of the policy development process; an improved dissemination methodology; and easier access to the benefits of specific policies for all members of the Lehigh community.

To fully benefit from the policy structure described in the previous sections the University should:

The Rules and Procedures of the Faculty is currently the primary repository of Academic Personnel Policies.  Due to its importance, the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty (or similar documents compiling Academic Personnel Policies) will be expected to be accurate, current, usable, consistent and accessible.

Within the colleges the deans are responsible for maintaining an appropriate college policy structure guided by the principles of this document. Furthermore, it is their responsibility to ensure that all college policies, procedures and rules are consistent with University, Faculty, and Administrative Policies as prescribed in sections II, III, and IV.

Policies of the University are intended to state important guiding principles, general rules and expectations, and organizational responsibilities applicable to the University community.  The implementation of these policies frequently requires operational procedures or rules such as time frames for certain actions, requirements for providing information, the assignment of certain duties, etc.  It is the responsibility of policy administrators to distinguish between policy matters and operational ones and to devise appropriate procedures and rules to implement policies. 

Finally it is the expectation of the Board of Trustees that Lehigh University will have an effective policy structure that is kept current, is easily accessible, covers all major areas, and is fully utilized.