University Relations and Marketing
The official presence of Missouri Southern State University (the University) on the Internet and the World Wide Web (Web) is its website. The website is an interactive, evolving communications medium, marketing tool, and information resource for external and internal constituencies. As a dynamic extension of Missouri Southern State University, the University’s Web presence must uphold high standards of content, design, and integrity. To this end, this policy is designed to:
• Establish a framework of responsibility for Web materials;
• Mandate compliance of all Web materials with University policy, MOREnet policy, and existing laws;
• Promote the use of Web materials and resources in a manner consistent with the University’s purpose and mission;
• Distinguish between Web materials that officially represent the University and those that do not; and
• Ensure a high level of professionalism among official University Web pages.
This policy is applied to MSSU website materials that reside on University Web servers and all Web materials funded by, produced on behalf of, directly associated with, or officially representative of the University, its programs, services and/or employees.
Within the policy, certain terms are used with specific meanings as defined in this section.
Web material: Computer files including but not limited to HTML-marked text files; graphic, sound, and/or video files; databases; scripts; applets; and other digital assets that can be distributed on the Internet and the World Wide Web and/or displayed in a Web browser. They may be static or dynamically assembled at the time of request.
Website: A related collection of Web materials.
University Web server: A computer server authorized by the University to publish or deliver Web materials under the University’s Internet domain (mssu.edu) or within the range of Internet protocol addresses assigned to the University.
University Web materials: Web materials residing on University Web servers as well as any Web materials funded by, directly associated with, or officially representative of the University (i.e. Web materials covered by this policy)
University unit: An official division, school, department, office, or other official academic or administrative segment of the University.
Internal group: An administrative, academic, advisory, or other University-affiliated organization that is endorsed by the University to officially represent it. This does not include student organizations. Examples of internal groups are the Staff Senate and the Strategic Planning Committee.
External group: Any organization that is neither a University unit nor an internal group as defined by this policy. For purposes of this policy, Registered Student Organizations are considered external groups.
MOREnet: Missouri Research and Education Network. MOREnet is a not-for-profit electronic information network serving higher education, elementary and secondary education, public libraries, state agencies, and other organizations and government agencies in Missouri. MSSU is a member of the MOREnet Consortium and all University computer users are bound by MOREnet Acceptable Use Guidelines, which are available on MSSU’s website.
Top-level pages: Official public Web materials identified by the University’s Web Team as being essential for external public relations and student recruitment/retention. Examples include the University home page and areas primarily used for navigation based on a site visitor’s profile (e.g. future students, alumni).
General oversight of University Web affairs is the responsibility of the Web Team, a collaborative group comprised of University staff members who are responsible for technical administration and top-level content administration of the website. The Director of University Relations and Marketing and the Director of Information Services Technology are co-chairs of the Web Team. The purposes of the Web Team are to:
1. Oversee the operation and enforcement of University Web policies and guidelines;
2. Evaluate and recommend any necessary changes to University Web policies and guidelines;
3. Review and act upon issues relating to major changes to the University website; and
4. Provide direction for improvements to the University’s Web presence.
All University Web materials are subject to review by the Web Team.
The Information Technology Department is responsible for technical administration of the University’s website and University Web servers. University Relations and Marketing is responsible for content administration of all public Web materials and for providing support for users of the University’s content management system. University Relations and Marketing promotes and enforces University Web standards and style guidelines.
Any individual who authors or approves University Web materials or who places Web materials on a University Web server consents to adherence to this policy. In doing so, the individual represents that he/she has the right to post or use the materials and assumes personal responsibility for their professionalism, legitimacy, and accuracy.
The individual agrees to continuously verify that the Web materials for which he or she is responsible:
• Are consistent with the University’s purpose and mission;
• Comply with University policies and guidelines, MOREnet policy, and existing laws (federal and state);
• Protect copyrighted information and materials;
• Comply with ownership rights of intellectual property;
• Preserve bandwidth integrity of the University’s network by limiting loads to prevent and avoid impeding other University services;
• Use licensed software;
• Do not provide links to websites which are known to violate the above; and
• Are reviewed periodically to ensure the accuracy of the information provided.
Additionally, any individual who authors or approves either official Web materials or offsite Web materials is responsible for verifying that the materials are strictly for official University purposes.
No individual may be provided with access to University Web servers or to the content management system unless he or she has completed the required training, as specified by the Web Team.
University Web materials must adhere to governing University policies and guidelines, including the University’s Computer Acceptable Usage Policy and MOREnet Acceptable Use Guidelines, and to existing laws and regulations (federal and state). All University Web materials must present information using the highest editorial standards (i.e. spelling, grammar, etc.) and must follow applicable University Web standards and style guidelines (see the Web Style Guide). University Web materials are classified into three categories: official, offsite, and non-official.
Official Web materials directly relate to the University’s purpose, mission, and/or operations. Official Web materials are primarily intended to promote the University, to support student recruitment/retention efforts, to provide administrative information, and to support academic functions. Official Web materials may contain only official University Web content and are subject to the same professional ethics, scrutiny, and appropriate use as any other University communications.
Official Web materials may not contain any personal Web content with the exception of University-approved images and statements related to an individual’s role within the University.
Public Web materials are those that officially represent the University to the general public. University Relations and Marketing monitors public Web materials to promote and enforce University Web standards and style guidelines (see the Web Style Guide), as all public Web materials must maintain a high level of professionalism and consistency. All Public Web materials must:
• Reside on University Web servers,
• Comply with University Web standards and style guidelines,
• Be published under the University’s Internet domain (mssu.edu) or an official Internet protocol address assigned by Information Technology, and
• Be managed under the University’s content management system unless the Web materials have been
identified by the Web Team as exempt due to valid technical or professional purposes.
Public Web materials are further classified into two categories: central and unit.
Central Web materials either consolidate information from several departments, are identified as top-level pages, or are developed to support a visitor’s website experience. Examples include the University home page and the A-Z index page. University Relations and Marketing in conjunction with Information Technology oversees central Web materials, using the following policies to govern their development:
• Major redesigns of the home page or top-level page templates must be reviewed by the Web Team
and approved by the President of the University or his/her designee.
• Featured images on the University home page and other top-level pages must be of high quality as
determined by University Relations and Marketing.
• Links from the University home page, top-level pages, and other central pages are created at the
discretion of University Relations and Marketing using the following criteria:
o Links comply with University policies and guidelines.
o Information provided is for an external audience.
o Pages to which links direct browsers meet University standards for professionalism and accuracy.
o Site analytics validate public Web visitor need.
Unit Web materials are public Web materials created by authorized, University-affiliated individuals to officially represent University units and internal groups (not including student organizations). Unit Web materials are the responsibility of their respective authors, supervisors, chairpersons, and/or sponsors.
A Special Note about Registered Student Organizations
University units wishing to promote a Registered Student Organization (RSO) within the unit's own official website may do so by providing a short description about the RSO and/or an outbound link to the RSO's official online presence (e.g. the RSO's Facebook page).
Academic Web materials include all web-based academic course and instructional materials. With rare exception, academic Web materials must be delivered through the University's course management system (i.e. Blackboard) and may not be delivered through another source (i.e. the University’s public website or another Web server) without the review and approval of the Web Team. Approval may be granted only when:
• University resources allow,
• The materials are consistent with the University’s purpose and mission,
• The materials directly support academic activities or research, and
• A valid reason exists for the materials to be published from a source other than the University's
course management system.
Academic Web materials delivered outside of the University’s course management system must maintain a high level of professionalism and must comply with University’s Web standards and style guidelines (see the Web Style Guide). They may not contain personal Web content with the exception of University-approved images and statements related to an individual’s role within the University. At the discretion of the Web Team, academic Web materials may be exempted from using the University's official design templates.
Internal Web materials officially represent the University to a targeted audience within the campus community and are restricted by password or network/server security from being accessed by anyone outside the campus community. This includes internal Web materials that reside on University Web servers (e.g. LioNet) and those outsourced to other providers due to technical or professional reasons. For purposes of this policy, academic Web materials (see previous section) are not considered internal Web materials. At the discretion of the Web Team, Internal Web materials may be exempted from using the University's official design templates.
Offsite Web materials are those representing the University that are outside of the University’s Internet domain and/or reside on non-University Web servers. Offsite Web materials do not include materials identified by the Web Team as academic Web materials or as internal Web materials (see previous sections) even if said materials reside outside of the University’s Internet domain or on non-University Web servers.
The unauthorized presentation of any Web material as official University Web material or the unauthorized or illegal use of University Web materials or University logos is prohibited. Any website that is not under the authority of the University may not use University logos or any Web material that implies University support, endorsement, or affiliation unless specific permission is granted by University Relations and Marketing or, in the case of athletic-related Web materials, permission from the MSSU Athletic Department.
With the approval of University Relations and Marketing, Web materials (e.g. text, images, logos, audio files, video files, etc.) may be posted on non-University websites for the promotion of the University. Additionally, the MSSU Athletic’s Sports Marketing Department may authorize the use of University athletic logos on non-University websites for athletic-related purposes. Examples of authorized offsite Web materials are official University videos on YouTube and the use of the MSSU lion logo on the MIAA website.
University Web materials may be presented offsite only when:
• They have been provided by, reviewed by, and/or approved by proper University officials;
• They are provided for legitimate purposes that are within the scope of the University’s mission;
• They are presented on the non-University website in an appropriate and professional manner;
• They are provided for the promotion of and/or marketing of the University; and
• The individual posting/using the Web materials has authorization from appropriate University officials.
When possible, a link to the University’s home page should be provided in conjunction with authorized offsite Web materials.
Only in unique circumstances and with approval from the President’s Council may a University unit utilize an offsite website as its official, public Web presence or use an Internet domain address outside of the University’s Internet domain for such purposes. (This does not include internal Web materials.) Examples of authorized offsite unit websites are the MSSU athletics website (mssulions.com) and the MSSU bookstore (http://www.mssu.bkstr.com/) website.
Requests for offsite unit websites must receive the recommendation of the Web Team and final approval from the President’s Council. The Web Team will evaluate design, accessibility, hosting, linking and domain name requirements as part of its review process. At the discretion of the Web Team, offsite unit websites may be exempted from using the University’s official design templates.
Following final approval, it is understood that the unit’s offsite website will remain official University Web materials and must comply with all governing University policies and existing laws and regulations. It is also understood that the University unit, its supervisor, and its authors are fully responsible for the offsite Web materials. University Relations and Marketing and the Web Team reserve the right to monitor offsite Web materials to ensure compliance with governing policies and laws.
As a service to the campus community and to the public, the University may, at its discretion, choose to host non-official Web materials on University Web servers for external groups or individuals whose purpose is consistent with the University’s purpose and mission. Examples of non-official Web materials include those representing non-profit organizations.
Hosting requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Web Team and, upon its recommendation, must receive final approval from the President of the University or his/her designee. Hosting requests may be granted only when:
• University resources allow;
• the entity is not-for-profit; and
• the Web materials are deemed to be consistent with the University’s purpose and mission.
At the discretion of the Web Team, authors of non-official Web materials may be required to utilize the University’s content management system and/or web page design templates. In addition, some non-official web materials may be required to be approved by a University faculty or staff member prior to being published.
Non-official Web materials may not be used to communicate official University information, statements, business, or course information. Views expressed on non-official Web materials are strictly those of the authors or members of the organization. The University assumes no responsibility for the content of any non-official Web material; however the University will investigate all complaints involving non-official Web materials and reserves the right to remove or block material that violates University policy, MOREnet policy, or federal or state law.
With the following exceptions, the University owns all Web materials and content that resides on University Web servers as well as all Web materials funded by, directly associated with, or officially representative of the University:
• Copyrighted information and materials, including third party works purchased or licensed for use by the University.
• Materials protected under other governing laws or University policies relating to ownership of and rights to intellectual property.
• Materials categorized as “non-official” under this policy.
The guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) are the University’s standard for Web accessibility and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. (see the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.) It is the responsibility of each Web content author and approver to become familiar with and to follow guidelines for achieving accessibility.
Acknowledging endorsements/sponsorships or publicizing non-University events/opportunities on University Web materials may be permitted only when such acknowledgement or publicity is:
• Within the scope of the mission of the University,
• Within the scope of the mission of the University unit or group that wishes to provide it,
• Done with the permission of the appropriate unit supervisor or University official,
• Done with the permission of the other individual(s) or organization(s),
• Contained within the Web pages associated with the University unit or group, and
• Done in such a way as to not violate MOREnet Acceptable Use Guidelines.
The University is not liable for any data loss, or failure to deliver data due to equipment failure, unavailability of resources, or negligence by its agents, officers, employees, students, volunteers, or contractors. Although the University may create backup copies of files as part of its regular system processes, the University is not required to restore such file. In cases of liability, the user shall consider the University to be a common carrier, exempt from liability for any content that passes through its networks.
Any person who violates University policy, MOREnet policy, or federal or state law may be subject to disciplinary actions or penalties, including limitation or elimination of user privilege, student expulsion, or employee termination. Violation of federal or state law may result in legal and/or civil action.
The Web Team reserves the right to temporarily or permanently remove University Web materials that fail to comply with governing University policies and guidelines or with existing laws and regulations. Furthermore, members of the Web Team reserve the right to immediately disable or remove Web materials if their contents could cause immediate, irreparable harm to the University’s operations or reputation.
This policy may be revised, edited, changed or removed at any time with or without notice to applicable individuals.
These website policies have been developed during 2009-2010 in tandem with the University’s acquisition of a Web Content Management System (OmniUpdate). Part of the CMS implementation involves migrating materials from the previous website that relied on DreamWeaver templates that allowed content authors and managers considerable freedom in their development and deployment.