Website Governance

The Graduate Center's website governance outlines the procedures that will guide the Graduate Center's oversight and community involvement of the management of the institutional website.

This governance document outlines the following: 

As the primary engine for delivering information about academic and research programs, campus operations and future events, the CUNY Graduate Center’s website,, is a core institutional asset.

To maintain the effectiveness, quality, and accuracy of the website and the Graduate Center brand, the Office of Communications & Marketing (Communications) supplies analytics; web writing resources and content development for top-level website content; resources for web strategy, accessibility, and search engine optimization; and, when feasible, support for photography, video, and design. By clearly and consistently managing content, streamlining workflow procedures and maintaining brand/style standards, the Communications team works with designated program and unit staff to produce and maintain relevant, contemporary, and meaningful website resources for the Graduate Center community.

Every aspect of the institution must be represented by a subject matter editor or publisher who will coordinate with the Communications team in a timely and collaborative fashion to ensure that all Graduate Center website content remains current. Any change by a program or unit to its designated content liaison must be communicated to the Office of Communications in a timely fashion.

Units that maintain control over their content and publishing are expected to create, maintain, and publish content that is current, accurate, relevant, and appropriate to their respective parts of the institutional website, as required by State and federal mandate. Dissertation and other program information that may be hosted on CUNY Academic Works should not be replicated on, but instead linked to the appropriate GC website location.

As part of the implementation of a new Content Management System (CMS) and redesigned website, the Communications team will engage in a campus-wide effort to educate the community about the new website; establish modules for CMS training, web development and brand awareness; enhance resource and content creation, and track ownership of all defined web properties at the Graduate Center.

Roles working within the CMS:

  • Content Editors: Create or revise content to be approved by the content publishers
  • Content Publishers: Create/revise, review, and approve content for publication to the live site
  • Web Team: Composed primarily of Communications staff, responsible for day-to-day strategic direction and management of the site

Roles not active in the CMS:

  • Content Experts: Serve as subject-matter experts to guide and review site content
  • Web Governance Board: Executive-level representation that: provides guidance on institutional priorities that influence the day-to-day decision making about digital strategy; help resolve high-level issues and requests; reinforce and educate others on the policies set in the governance document; and determine which web properties are considered core and therefore must be maintained on the institutional site

Individuals requesting website editing access via the CMS must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Possess subject-matter expertise in the purview of the respective unit (or an established relationship with a relevant subject-matter expert)
  • Have website content management defined and allocated as a job responsibility, with explicit supervisory approval
  • Receive all required training and committed to future trainings as needed
  • Fulfill all responsibilities and expectations of the assigned role
  • Work with any parties necessary within and beyond one’s given unit to fulfill website responsibilities

CMS access requests must be submitted via the Web Content Request form. Content editors and publishers must complete at a minimum CMS training before gaining access to update; best practices and GC standards training must be completed as soon as possible; individual training can be scheduled if the session times are inconvenient.

In granting CMS access, the supervisor or individual granting approval must acknowledge that:

  • The website is a core institutional asset, with website maintenance thus being a core administrative function;
  • The approved individual’s responsibilities in updating a section of are critical to the effectiveness of the website as a communications and marketing tool, thus supporting the school’s functional and academic objectives, and
  • The approved individual must allocate a defined amount of time per day/week/month (as appropriate) that will be allocated to complete website maintenance responsibilities and develop new content as needed.

The Communications team may revoke access to the CMS for any of the following reasons:

  • Violations of CMS or relevant University policies
  • Repeated violations of established content and brand quality standards (including the addition of inline styles or other custom formatting that violates defined visual standards)
  • Intentional publication of false, misleading or defamatory information on
  • Consistent violation of the website’s compliance with WCAG 2.1 AA standards

The Communications team is tasked with ensuring timely content updates. This framework, shared with content publishers and editors responsible for the various sections of, will include a schedule for content updates, support for creating content, sourcing information and working with subject-matter experts, and ongoing content reviews and audits.

Content editors are responsible for ensuring that their material is accurate and complete in the first instance, then must submit the material to their designated publisher for approval. Content publishers can make changes to the website that appear live instantly without additional review or workflow. By having the ability to publish content live directly to the website, a person serving as a content publisher commits to maintaining a high standard of quality, accuracy, and consistency across the web content for which s/he is responsible. This level of access may be revoked if Communications deems that it is not utilized with due care or diligence.

As a matter of best practice, regardless of established workflow or permissions and whether the content is in the CMS or a Word document, it is recommended to have a second person review draft content for spelling, grammar, and comprehension before submitting it for publication. This is in addition to review via the established publishing workflow for appropriateness, brand, style, accuracy, and relevance, not instead of. All content must follow our Guidelines for Content Editors and Publishers (section below).

Any requests for changes in CMS access and permissions must be submitted to the Office of Communications. Additional training may be required.

In addition to maintaining online documentation and resources, Communications offers two training modules:

  • Drupal Basics - Required for new users. This session will show you how to navigate the Drupal dashboard, create/edit pages, and manage images and files.
  • News, Events and Profiles - This session will focus on common special content types including news, events, staff/faculty profiles and directory information, books, and FYIs.

Content editors are required to complete at a minimum the Drupal Basics training before gaining access to update

Communications will schedule training sessions for interested members of the GC community on a regular basis. In addition, Communications will maintain, update, and distribute relevant documentation for CMS usage, best practices, style, and other content guidelines, making that documentation accessible to all relevant content editors and publishers. Whenever possible, relevant documentation and content guidelines will be integrated into the CMS authoring interface, to better guide the efforts of content editors and publishers.

Content review, quality assurance, and spot checks will happen as part of the Publishing Workflow and Process (above), for content submitted for review by site editors, and periodically on pages or sections of, for compliance purposes. Spot checks can be prioritized based on analytics, by focusing on the top viewed pages. If content is discovered that is irrelevant, off-brand, inaccurate, outdated, or poor quality, the content owner will be asked to devise a timeframe and plan for addressing the concerns. Failure to adhere to the agreed-upon plan and timeframe may result in a loss of CMS editing access or website archival.

Pages which do not meet content standards or have errors will either be referred by Communications back to the original author for revision or corrected by the Communications team with an alert sent to the original author about being more attentive to quality. If authors consistently submit low quality or error-filled content, the content owner, and program or unit director will be contacted about the issue. The unit or program may lose CMS editing privileges until additional training is received or the concerns are otherwise addressed.

All content related to GC’s academic mission, including academic departments, central administration, student affairs, etc., is considered core content and should be hosted on

As a matter of policy, publishing access to certain sections of is limited to specific editors and publishers because of the strategic value of the content, critical business need to ensure content quality, consistency and accuracy, and institutional obligations under state and federal regulation. These sections are deemed authoritative content. See below to learn more about authoritative content.

Generally speaking, the Communications team is accountable for authoritative content. To avoid inconsistency and confusion, programs and units should not re-create or duplicate information on authoritative pages within their own sections. Content found in violation will be removed.

In some instances, Communications will work with designated content publishers on authoritative content, in order to ensure accuracy.

Non-authoritative content will be managed by the unit’s content editor and content publisher, with regular check-ins from the Web Team.

Content Considerations
Content editors and publishers should consider the following questions when content planning:  

  • Core objectives: What is your website’s purpose?
  • Content goals: What actions do you want people to take on your site?
  • KPIs (Key Performance Indicators): What relevant metrics can help measure goals over time?
  • Targets: How do you rate success?
  • Segments: What visitor attributes will provide meaningful insights?


Editors and publishers should use taxonomies with discretion, ensuring the chosen taxonomies are relevant to the content. Note that the Web Team is solely responsible for maintaining the site taxonomy, governing content tagging, organization and re-use sitewide, as well as complementary taxonomy in use for events, news, or other content types.

Visual Content

Content editors and publishers will, by default, have access to pre-approved photo and video libraries via the content management system. These libraries contain a range of contemporary Graduate Center imagery and videos that can add meaningful context to any page.

Communications has sole authority over the contents of image/visual asset galleries associated with the GC website and may remove any assets that do not meet stated size and/or quality standards.

See the Drupal/CMS Resources page for Media Library documentation (forthcoming).


CUNY uses the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version 2.1, AA conformance level as its accessibility standard. The Graduate Center’s site is committed to providing an accessible site for legal responsibility as well as a commitment to equal access for everyone. Content editors and publishers must follow WCAG accessibility guidelines and ensure their content is accessible.

To maximize efficiencies, an online Web Content Request form  will collect the following:

  • Web Content Requests
    • Suggested edits/updates to existing content
    • Requests for new pages, news items, events, or profiles
    • Requests for photos to be added to CMS photo libraries
  • Support, Access, or Training Requests
    • Requests for CMS access or training

This system will replace all other methods for collecting requests from the community, including those by phone, in-person, or via a third party.

Be sure to include the following key details:

  • Relevant URL(s) to be updated (if applicable)
  • Any files (images, text) needed to inform the requested change
  • Specific guidance about the change requested (e.g. “swap out entire first paragraph”, “update date from 2017 to 2018”, add attached microsite here)
  • Name, department/unit, and contact info of requestor

Incoming requests for new content will be evaluated by the Web Team (significant requests will be evaluated by the Web Governance Board), and prioritized against these criteria:

  • Mission-critical urgency
  • Correction of outdated/erroneous information
  • Time-sensitive promotion of news/events
  • Relevance to the established digital strategy for
  • Relevance to the mission of the GC
  • Ongoing sustainability of the request and required resources (time/cost)

Expect a response within five (5) business days. If necessary, additional context, information or a meeting may be requested to explore the request in greater depth. Decisions are reached in the context of the strategic goals of the website and the institution, its target audiences, and established standards for messaging and content quality.

Edits to existing non-authoritative content are the purview of the respective content publisher. Publishers are encouraged to establish a formalized system to collect edit requests within their respective unit, either with an email template or web form. The Web Team will strive to check in with non-authoritative publishers on a regular basis to ensure strategic and brand alignment, but is always available for consultation.

Authoritative Content Defined

Homepage and Top-Level Sections

The homepage is the CUNY Graduate Center’s digital front-door. Its messaging, imagery, style, brand, calls-to-action, and content are geared primarily toward recruiting prospective students. Other audiences, such as current students or faculty, can find clear paths to relevant content via the homepage.

The homepage is ‘owned’ by the Office of Communications, for and on behalf of the GC community. All members of the GC community are welcome to contribute news, information or ideas they may feel are appropriate for the homepage, but ultimate decision-making for homepage content rests with the Web Team.

The structure of the homepage reflects high-level branding and pathways to mission-critical information, which will either be updated manually or dynamically via taxonomy.

Closely associated with the homepage of are the top-level sections, including the sections contained within the main navigation, global calls-to-action, audience pages, and other high-priority website destinations. These sites are owned and managed by the Web Team in partnership with relevant subject-matter experts. Because of the high priority nature of these landing pages, subject-matter experts will be expected to work promptly and collaboratively with the Communications team to ensure their timely and accurate maintenance.

Degrees and Program Pages

Academic program landing pages are deemed authoritative content, and the Web Team will work closely with the program to maintain those pages. While a priority goal of the new website is to improve brand cohesion, the Communications team will work with academic units to ensure that the personality of their offerings is reflected in their landing page through descriptive copy, photography and other visual media. All content should be revisited at least annually and whenever necessitated by changes in faculty membership, program governance, catalog offerings, deadlines, experiential opportunities (research, internships) and other key factors.

By law, course descriptions and curriculum information are considered core content for institutional purposes and should not be replicated outside of the program’s official pages on

All other subpages within the academic program’s site are not authoritative content, and will be managed by the respective editor and publisher.

Institutional Information

Due to its high informational value and CUNY-wide relevance, institutional information (leadership, history) is also managed by the Communications team, in consultation with relevant subject-matter experts and stakeholders.


Editorial and promotional content distributed via is managed by the Office of Communications. Members of the Graduate Center community and others are welcome to submit topics and story ideas for consideration. The Communications team will help determine the most appropriate means of promotion, which may be a news story, event listing, a media pitch, Facebook post, or placement in another internal or external publication.

Content editors are cautioned not to publish time-sensitive news or event information relating specifically to the program as content on their website, whether in a new page or within the content of another page. This tends to undermine the structure of the website by creating stray pages that become irrelevant as soon as the event passes or news becomes outdated. The Communications team can find the appropriate means to promote program news or events through established platforms and link it to the site.

As an alternative to news items, includes an FYI content type, which allows for short Twitter-like announcements, alerts, or other news. FYIs are not subject to the same publication process as News and can therefore be published by the unit themselves.


The Graduate Center events calendar is designed to be an official listing of events hosted at or by the GC, with the goal of providing the internal community with enriching activities and promoting public programming to external audiences. The Communications team will oversee the publishing process and digital marketing strategy for events via the CMS. Official GC events must be posted in the calendar. They may be posted on other platforms, but only if they are also on

Admissions, Financial Aid, and Tuition & Fees

Designated content publishers within the Admissions, Financial Aid, and Academic Affairs units share responsibility for updating mission-critical content such as:

  • Application requirements and deadlines
  • Admission requirements and standards
  • Tuition and fees
  • Information request form
  • Campus visits
  • Financial aid deadlines, policies, and protocols

The Communications team will work with these content publishers to ensure that this content is updated in a timely and accurate fashion, in line with overall site strategy and school branding priorities.

Faculty Bios

Department-level content publishers, with the guidance of Communications and the advocacy and authority of relevant academic leadership, will be held responsible for updating faculty bio pages, including the maintenance of up-to-date biographical information. Faculty information should be updated on at least an annual basis.

The Communications team will, whenever possible, pursue opportunities for efficiency by identifying and integrating dynamic data sources or using third-party applications to populate faculty detail pages. When such integrations are considered or implemented, the Communications team will consult and notify all relevant content editors and stakeholders. Core directory information will be pulled from the Graduate Center’s Directory and fields will be available within the CMS for additional customization. Faculty information should not be replicated or solely reside on a website outside the domain.


While individual units may create and publish policies relative to their respective domain, any school-wide curation of policies must be organized, completed, and vetted by the appropriate member of senior leadership and/or a designated representative/partner (in some cases, legal counsel). The Web Team will determine the ultimate content publisher for each policy and partner with the appropriate unit.