The General Counsel's Office works with Niagara University's staff to keep the university in compliance with relevant laws, regulations and the internal rules of affiliated organizations.
While the influence of federal law and regulations can be found throughout the jurisprudence of higher education, some laws and regulations not only contribute to the landscape, but define it. In particular:
At both the state and federal levels, Niagara University is required to provide employees and students with an environment free of discrimination on the basis of certain protected categories. Our Policy on Discrimination lists these categories and sets out a procedure for complaints. Students with concerns related to harassment and discrimination are encouraged to first bring their concerns to the dean of students; Employees and other are encouraged to report to Human Resources. Questions and concerns about this policy can also be directed to the General Counsel's Office.
As both a consumer and producer of intellectual property, Niagara University continually evaluates its policies and technology to ensure they are keeping pace with developments in copyright law. NU's distance learning program is designed to take advantage of the protections afforded by the TEACH Act, while NU's faculty are given support from the GC's office in protecting their own original works of authorship. The university's Academic Integrity Policy is designed to, among other priorities, impress upon students the importance of respect for intellectual property.
It is the policy of Niagara University to restrict the use of its name and logos to formally authorized users. In-house, the GC's Office works with faculty members to ensure that names and web addresses developed for community initiatives and research partnerships are viable marks suitable for federal protection.
The GC is available to consult with faculty generating patentable inventions and works to ensure inventors on campus are aware of the legal aspects of innovation.
The Family Education Rights Privacy Act, which controls the manner in which education records are maintained and, on a very limited basis, disclosed.
Per FERPA, while education records may only be released under limited circumstances, certain "Directory Information" may be disclosed as necessary. Niagara University has designated certain information contained in the education records of its students as “Directory Information”: student’s name, address, telephone listing, electronic mail address, date and place of birth, photographs, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, grade level, enrollment status (e.g. full-time or part-time; undergraduate or graduate), degrees, honors and awards received, and the most recent previous education agency or institution attended. Campus security records are also exempted.
Further information on Niagara University's compliance with FERPA, including the university's mandated annual notification policy, can be found at the Records Office. Since fall 2007, using a tool developed by a team from the NU Records, General Counsel, Advisement, and IT offices, NU students have been able to manage their privacy settings electronically.
Recent guidance from the Department of Education about balancing privacy considerations and campus safety, including materials for parents and students, can be reached from here.
A generic version of the GC office training on FERPA for faculty and staff can be downloaded here.
The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures equal access to education for those with disabilities. Further information on NU's compliance with the ADA can be found at the Office of Academic Support.
Among other things, this act sets the ground rules for access to federal student loans. Further information on such loans can be found at NU's Financial Aid office.
With the university's campus located on Monteagle Ridge, over the Niagara River and with a spectacular view of Canada, there are a variety of cross-border concerns.
Niagara's students come from all over the world. The General Counsel is available to the staff in the Admissions Office working with International Students.
With a diverse array of employees from many parts of the world, NU's employment considerations cross into both state, federal and international law. Niagara University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.
The laws and regulations of the State of New York set the stage for Niagara University as a not-for-profit, private education corporation. In particular:
New York State Education Law and regulations relating to Higher Education, which govern a range of Higher Ed areas, from how the university prepares students for certain licensed professions, to how new programs are offered.
Lobbying: The New York State Commission on Public Integrity monitors lobbying efforts by all sorts of entities, including those of not-for-profits and in higher education. The GC serves as the university's lobbying officer and works with university employees to ensure lobbying is tracked and conducted in compliance with both state and federal law. For more information, NU employees should refer to the "lobbying" utility on myNU.