College Website Guidelines

Background

These guidelines are intended to clarify the different types of pages that can exist and to provide guidance about the relevant expectations and sources of financial support for different kinds of web pages that are located on College and University servers. They build upon existing University policies which provide additional relevant information. Nothing herein should be construed to contradict any existing University policy. Questions should be directed to the College of Education Director of Communications.

Overarching Requirements for all Web Sites on Penn State Servers

  • Representations of Penn State and College of Education programs and activities must be accurate;
  • Copyrighted material must be displayed with appropriate permission of the original owner;
  • Prior approval from the Finance Office, the Controller’s Office, appropriate staff at Ecommerce and the Budget Administrator for a specific event must be obtained in writing before any business is conducted or funds are exchanged; and
  • Laws must be complied with.

Types of Web Sites

College Pages

Key Features – College pages are official representations of the College and include pages for Departments, Graduate Programs, and officially recognized Centers (e.g., the Center for the Study of Higher Education, the Center for Rural Education and Communities, the Professional Personnel Development Center, etc.). These pages all adhere to the Content Management System (CMS) and have a similar look and feel.

Financial Arrangements – The cost for maintaining these pages is absorbed by various administrative units within the College.

“In between” Pages

Key Features – “In between” pages lie in between official College pages and personal pages that are hosted by the University for faculty and staff members’ personal use. “In between” pages report official College activity, but are more transitory than official College pages. For example, an “in between” page might be established for a funded project that is of finite duration. “In between” pages are welcome to use the CMS, but are not obligated to do so. A good example is the web page maintained by the College for the Journal for Research in Rural Education. We are hosting this journal and have agreed to abide by the existing features of the website that were in place when we accepted sponsorship. Moreover, some programs are connected to multiple colleges at Penn State and it would be inappropriate to impose the College of Education CMS on these sites.

Financial Arrangements – The financial arrangements for these pages are highly varied and in many cases the program or project draws upon its own resources to support the site. The fact that a project is externally funded does not in itself obligate the College to provide financial support for the related web presence for the project.

PIs who anticipate web support for their projects must clarify the source of the support before submitting their proposals. In some cases, the College may be able to provide support as part of a cost-share or match with a project, but these arrangements must be made at the time a project proposal is prepared and signed off on by the College. The Associate Dean for Research, Outreach, and Technology is the person in the College who can make this kind of commitment.

Personal Web Pages

Key Features – These sites are hosted in the PASS system and are available to all faculty and staff through ITS. They are not subject to style requirements or content review, but they must adhere to the Overarching Requirements listed above. Personal web pages are available to represent group projects and in these cases one member of the group should be designated as the lead person for purposes of securing a web presence.

Personal websites also may be set up through Sites At Penn State, which gives students, faculty and staff the ability to build websites, blogs, & portfolios free and easily.

Financial Arrangements – Personal pages are supported by the central University through ITS. Individuals develop their own designs and can secure professional help if they so wish.

Criteria for Determining Which Type of Page is Appropriate

The College of Education Director of Communications, who serves as a representative of the University Editor in the College, will be the first point of contact for anyone seeking to establish either an official College or an “In between” Web page.1 Proposers will be asked to complete a form which will provide information to help determine the best solution for that Web site. (The form is available as a PDF document and DOC document.)

The Director will consult as necessary with the Associate Deans in the College on matters regarding a) the classification of the site as a College page, an “In between” page, or a personal page; b) the provision of financial support for the page; and c) any questions regarding the contents of the page(s), including compliance with University Faculty Senate approvals for academic programs. The Coordinator will also conduct a review of adherence to Penn State requirements for style.

The following criteria will be used to make decisions about whether the site is a College page, an “In between” page, or a personal page, and if the page should receive financial or other support from the College:

  • Centrality to the College’s mission
  • Degree of Transience
  • Is this site to be up for only a specified amount of time as a reporting function for a grant or other project?
  • Is it possible that the data in the site will need to be moved to another website or host in the future? In such a situation, participation in the CMS may not be desirable, as it would be impossible to extract the site for use elsewhere. (The data and content could be extracted, but the design could not be.)
  • Complexity
  • Is the site using a database or does it contain other complex programming that may be compromised or lost if migrated to the CMS? Does the College have the technical capacity to host the site with complex programming in place?
  • Availability of external or internal funding

Based upon the site’s classification, the following options are available for hosting and site maintenance:

Hosting:

College Pages

  • A College server using the CMS

“In between” Pages

  • A College server using or not using the CMS
  • A University Server using Angel
  • Sites At Penn State, Resource: http://sites.psu.edu/

Personal Pages

Staff Support Options:

  • Staff members (reserved for College pages)
  • Graduate Research or Teaching Assistants
  • Faculty members
  • Work-study students, wage payroll employees, or freelance workers (paid with grant or research funds)

University Policies that are Relevant

AD 54 - http://guru.psu.edu/policies/Ad54.html

  • “All publicly accessible Web pages presenting official University information must adhere to the requirements below. This includes all pages containing information sanctioned by the University and directly related to University business or academic activities.”

AD 61 - http://guru.psu.edu/policies/Ad61.html

  • “The decentralized structure of University management creates dozens of administrative areas with communications needs, often leading to conflicting and inconsistent messages about the University. Successful marketing strategies and communications efforts cannot ensue from isolated or ad hoc tactics. For the University to properly communicate with a consistent voice, it is essential that the communications activities of Penn State be coordinated through one central office.”
  • “The Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications is charged with oversight for the development of marketing and communications strategies, and for coordinating the external communications activities of the entire University. No marketing consultants, marketing research firms, social media consultants, advertising agencies or graphic design firms may be hired without the prior approval from the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications.”
  • “Individual unit logos generally are not permitted. Exceptions and special needs for unit identities will be handled through the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications. No logos, word marks, or identity symbols incorporating the name of the unit or University may be developed without prior approval from the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications. Information about the University’s institutional graphic identity system, and guidelines for using the University mark, Intercollegiate Athletics logo, and other symbols, is available at: http://ur.psu.edu/stylemanual/graphic_identity/graphic_identity.html

Marketing Communicators Network Representatives (formerly University Editor Representatives)

“Marketing Communicators Network representatives are appointed to serve as liaisons to the Department of University Marketing. Marketing Communicator Network representatives are responsible for ensuring that marketing planning and practices in their units are carried out in line with University policy, and communications are developed according to established University guidelines. Each campus and college will be represented in the network, along with administrative units as appropriate. Chancellors and deans are responsible for the appointments in their units; senior administrators are responsible for appointments in the administrative units. Appointments will be targeted to staff that direct the marketing communications function in their units. The Marketing Communicators Network is managed by the Department of University Marketing in the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Communications.”

Questions? Contact


1 Personal web pages can be established independently of the College Relations Office through ITS, but these pages must adhere to the overarching requirements. The College will not be monitoring personal pages in any systematic way, but if an instance comes to light where a page is in violation of the overarching requirements, the author of the page will be contacted.