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New code of conduct adopted for University

by Karen A. Grava - April 17, 2006

A University-wide code of conduct was adopted by the Board of Trustees last week as part of a compliance program to help faculty, staff, and administrators adhere to federal, state, and local regulations.

The code was developed by Rachel Rubin, director of compliance for Storrs-based programs, and Iris Mauriello, compliance, integrity, and privacy officer at the Health Center, with input from faculty, the University Senate, administrators, and staff.

It outlines standards of behavior, focusing on honesty, integrity, respect, professionalism, and knowledge.

“The University is committed to assuring the highest standard of integrity in all University and University-sponsored activities,” said President Philip E. Austin.

“Federal, state, and local regulations that govern our activities are increasingly complex, and as the University’s activities expand in size, scope, and prominence, it is important that all of us understand the relevant policies and know what is required in terms of compliance and reporting.”

The code notes that all members of the University community on all campuses, including the Health Center:

  • should be truthful and sincere and not intentionally mislead others or provide inaccurate information;
  • must adopt behaviors that reflect fundamental moral and ethical values, are beyond reproach, and avoid the fact and appearance of impropriety;
  • exhibit behaviors that demonstrate respect for others in terms of civility, collegiality, health, and safety; protect private and confidential information; and create an environment free from harassment and violence.
  • apply ethical business practices and professional standards and requirements to academic, research, clinical, administrative, and other functions, and adhere to applicable federal, state, and local government laws and regulations, while also acting as good stewards of resources;
  • value truth, the pursuit of truth, intellectual curiosity, and academic freedom.

The code, administered by the Office of Audit, Compliance, and Ethics, notes that University employees are “responsible and accountable for resolving ethical dilemmas” through consultation with their supervisor, colleagues, or the University’s Compliance Office.

The code sets standards for education, patient care, and research, including scholarly integrity, protocols for human and animal research, laboratory safety, and research support.

The code notes that standards for athletics must focus not only on principles of good sportsmanship, honesty, and fiscal responsibility but also on compliance with University, state, NCAA, and conference regulations.

Standards included in the code state that

  • employees should not engage in outside activities that could create a conflict of interest;
  • not accept gifts including food and beverage from vendors, lobbyists, or others doing business with or seeking to do business with the University;
  • not accept secondary employment that might impair independent judgment;
  • not use their state positions for personal financial gain beyond official compensation or for financial benefit of family members or domestic partners;
  • and not use state resources for personal use or for use unrelated to University responsibilities.

The code requires employees to follow fair business practices in its contracting; to handle proprietary information carefully and to protect physical and intellectual property, including data, that belongs to the University or its researchers.

Employees are cautioned to use resources wisely, bill accurately, keep accurate and timely financial records, carefully document expenses, and accurately account for time spent working.

The code also spells out employees’ obligations to avoid partisan political activities on state time, and not make representations on behalf of the University without official authorization, and notes that the University encourages its employees to share their knowledge and expertise with others through outreach and volunteerism.

Media relations on behalf of the University are done by University Communications in Storrs and the Office of Communications at the Health Center, and while faculty, staff, and administrators have the freedom to express their opinions on University actions and policies, they must coordinate official University comment on all matters regarding the institution through those offices.

The University’s graphic standards must be observed as well, and the code notes that the University has legal rights regarding the use of its name, logos, seals, and protected trademarks.

“Great universities function as true communities in which faculty, administrators, staff, and students collaborate to achieve common goals,” Austin said.

“That holds true for instruction, research, service, and at the most fundamental level, ethical compliance. We must all adhere to the highest level of ethical conduct in fulfillment of our institutional responsibilities.”

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