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Policy Development & Interpretation
Longwood University is a public, multiple-constituency, multiple-policy base employer. State policy and general law are the umbrella under which institutional policy and practice exist. Local policy may not conflict with state policy or general law, but local policy does have considerable discretion to operate and "color in" the total landscape by addressing areas and issues not covered by state policy or law. Understanding that state policy often only creates parameters of acceptability, further institutional guidance is necessary to rationalize the policy.
The character of employment for some constituencies, such as Classified employees, is heavily regulated by state enabling legislation such as the Virginia Personnel Act, which authorized the creation of the Department of Human Resource Management whose express purpose, among other things, is to establish state-wide policy governing that class of employee. Other constituencies, such as teaching and administrative/professional faculty are less regulated and considerable latitude exists to permit local policy development to define the exact character of the employment relationship. Longwood University has also historically permitted reasonable discretion to departments, schools, and vice presidential areas to establish additional guidance in those respective areas. Dress codes are a good example, with individual departments free to establish their own dress codes.
A Central Source to Address Complex Issues
In a nutshell, this environment makes for a very complicated and often confusing interplay of rules and requirements, which sometimes change depending on the class of employee affected. Policies, like contracts, never cover all possible circumstances and situations. Occasionally the language is vague. Sometimes the policy is silent to an issue. And infrequently it's just plain contradictory. Consequently, a central source with an understanding of the history of the policy, its purpose or intent, the culture and core values of the institutions, and some ability to apply general rules of construction is required to interpret policy to meet specific situations. Moreover, crafting of specific policy to meet specific situations. Moreover, crafting of specific policy is not easy and few managers and executives have a high degree of comfort with that activity. Addressing complex issues in simple, highly readable, yet comprehensive terms is more an art than a science. Assistance is prescribed, even for the most accomplished managers and executives, if nothing more than feedback on drafts.
Prepared to Serve as a Resource
The Office of Human Resources is prepared to serve as a resource to all employees, managers, and executives in interpreting policy, providing policy search and policy benchmarking services, in crafting policy, in recommending policy changes, in ensuring that policies comport with all legal requirements, and in providing constructive criticism and feedback on local policy drafts.
Academic Policy Issues
It should further be noted that the Vice President for Academic Affairs is the primary and most authoritative reference source on academic policy issues.