3170 - University Ethics
Last updated: January 01, 2008
PREAMBLE. As teaching, research, and educational outreach constitute the primary mission of the university, all members of the university will work to maintain an environment conducive to learning, scholarship, and service. All employees of the UI are also subject to the Conflicts of Interest and Ethical Conduct Policy of the Regents. This policy can be reviewed at the following website: https://boardofed.idaho.gov/board-policies-rules/board-policies. In June 2005, President White created an ad-hoc Committee on Ethical Guidance and Oversight charged with reviewing, revising and developing policies on conflicts of interest, nepotism and ethical conduct. As a result, in the fall of 2007 substantial changes were made to this policy as well as changes to FSH 3260, FSH 6240, FSH 6241 and 6242.
B. Rules of Ethical Conduct
C. Reporting Unethical Behavior
A. ETHICS. Within the university community, all participants have rights and obligations to uphold the functionality, dignity, and harmony of the university. This policy sets out the expectations and requirements of employees regarding ethical behavior and actions. Collectively, the policy and referenced related policies allow employees to take actions that are consistent with the institution’s core values and that move the institution towards its vision and goals. All UI employees shall work to maintain an environment conducive to research, learning and service, and all employees have an integral contribution to providing a high quality learning environment. All UI employees accept their share of responsibilities for the governance of the institution. They respect the rights of students and fellow employees. When they speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression that they speak or act for their college or the university. They adhere to the stated regulations/policies of the institution (provided they do not contravene academic or constitutional freedoms), they maintain their right to criticize and seek revision. They determine the amount and character of the work they do outside their institution with due regard to their paramount responsibilities within the university. See FSH 3260. When considering the interruption or termination of their service, they recognize the effect of their decisions upon the programs of the institution and give due notice of their intentions. See FSH 3940.
A-1. Ethics in Instruction. All individuals engaged in teaching a course at the university of Idaho seek to promote the acquisition of knowledge and the expression of creativity. They seek to be effective teachers and present the accepted scholarly standards of their discipline. They demonstrate respect for the student as a person and adhere to their proper role as intellectual guide and counselor. They make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and thoroughly evaluate student performance. They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor/instructor/TA and student. They do not exploit the student for their private advantage, and acknowledge significant assistance when it is received. They protect the student's academic freedom.
A-2. Ethics in Scholarship. All individuals engaged in scholarly activity are to practice honesty and integrity in the pursuit of knowledge and creative expression. Their primary responsibility to their discipline is to seek and state the truth as they see it. To develop and improve their scholarly competence, they exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting information. In the exchange of criticism and ideas, they show due respect for the opinions of others and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues. As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, scholars (students, technicians, and faculty members) have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and expression, and to further public understanding of academic freedom. They practice intellectual honesty and do not engage in plagiarism, fabrication, or deception. Subsidiary interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry.
B. RULES OF ETHICAL CONDUCT. The purpose of Rules of Ethical Conduct is to establish and maintain high standards of honesty, integrity, and quality of performance for all employees of the University of Idaho. Individuals in public universities have positions of trust and responsibility that require observation of the highest ethical standards. Ethical conduct is of critical importance in our relationships with the public, students, other employees and agencies, and private contractors. The Rules of Ethical Conduct are intended to establish a general baseline for ethical conduct; they are not intended to be inclusive of all conduct. Guidelines are provided for each of the rules in D below (clicking on the title will take you directly to that respective guideline). These guidelines are offered as examples of the issues discussed in their respective sections. They are not presented as policy and do not replace approved policy in evaluating issues of ethics and professional conduct.
B-1. Integrity and Quality. The university must operate with integrity that includes, but is not limited to, operating in compliance with laws and regulations and its contractual obligations.
B-2. Adherence to Law. Employees are responsible for becoming familiar with the laws and regulations pertinent to their areas of responsibility. Many but not all legal requirements are embodied in university policies. Failure to comply with laws and regulations can have serious adverse consequences both for the individuals and for the university, in terms of reputation, finances, and the health and safety of the community.
University business is to be conducted in conformance with applicable legal requirements, including contractual commitments undertaken by individuals authorized to bind the university to such commitments. Failure to do so will be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
B-3. Conflicts of Interest and Commitment.
a. Conflicts of Interest refers to situations in which financial or other personal considerations may directly and significantly affect an employee’s professional judgment in exercising any university duty or responsibility. Employees are expected to avoid conflicts of interest unless such conflicts are disclosed and managed in accordance with the university policies. See FSH 6240.
b. Conflicts of Commitment refers to situations where an individual’s distribution of effort between one’s university appointment and one’s outside activities may directly and significantly affect an employee’s ability to perform their university responsibilities in teaching, research and public service. Employees are expected to arrange outside activities and financial interests so as not to interfere with the primacy of these university duties. See FSH 6240.
B-4. Privacy and Confidential Information. No employee shall disclose confidential records or information or use such information for his or her personal benefit. The collection, retention, and dissemination of university records is subject to federal law, including the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA), state law, including the Idaho Public Records Law, and university policies. See FSH 2600 for information regarding FERPA. Confidential information may include but is not limited to personnel information, information subject to a privilege recognized in the law, proprietary information, education records under FERPA, and information identified as confidential.
B-5. Discrimination and Sexual Harassment. The university must strive to maintain a learning and working environment that is safe, supportive, and responsible. Discrimination and sexual harassment toward any member of the university community violates federal and state laws and the policies of the University of Idaho. See FSH 3200, 3210, 3215, and 3220. Incidents of discrimination and sexual harassment should be reported to the appropriate university administrator identified in the policies.
B-6. Nepotism. UI employees may not give preferential treatment to individuals based on familial or other relationships, nor participate in institutional decisions involving a direct benefit to a family member. See FSH 6241.
B-7. University Resources. Employees of the university have a responsibility to be financial stewards of the public resource. They are responsible for implementing, maintaining, and following proper administrative and accounting procedures, and for complying with all relevant governmental and regulatory requirements.
B-8. University Assets. Employees of the university have a responsibility to maintain control and security of university assets. They are responsible for their use and protection including reporting requirements.
B-9. Contracting Requirements. The UI enters and engages in multiple contracts and agreements to carry out its role and mission. Employees are responsible for being familiar with the various types of contracts, agreements, and memoranda of understanding that they use in the performance of their duties, and for obtaining the necessary review and approval for said contracts. See APM 60 and RGP V.N.
B-10. Political Campaigns and Elections. An employee shall not use institutional time, funds, equipment, or other resources to run for an elected office, work on a political campaign or to influence the passage or defeat of legislation. See FSH 6220.
B-11. Gifts. University employees concerned with contracts and pecuniary transactions, or who influence the allocation of business or exercise administrative decision making authority must be particularly careful to avoid actions that create the appearance of favoritism or that may adversely affect the university’s reputation for impartiality and fair dealing and may not accept any pecuniary benefit from persons interested in or likely to become interested in such action.
An employee may not accept a gift or business courtesy when a real or perceived attempt is being made to offer the courtesy in exchange for, or to influence favorable action by the university; motivate the employee to do anything prohibited by law, regulation, or university policy; or gain an unfair competitive advantage by improperly influencing an employee’s discretionary decisions.
Notwithstanding the above prohibitions, state law allows for public employees to receive trivial, incidental benefits not to exceed a value of fifty dollars ($50.00) provided that there is not substantial risk of undermining official impartiality. See Idaho Code sections 18-1356 and 18-1359, and RGP II.Q.
C. REPORTING UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR. As state employees, UI faculty and staff recognize their responsibility to report unethical behavior when it is encountered. UI employees can confidentially report concerns about suspected issues of illegal, unethical or irresponsible acts. Information regarding the confidential reporting line may be accessed from the UI home page or directly from the following web site: https://www.uidaho.edu/finance/internal-audit/hotline, or from the office of Internal Audit.
Credible reports to the confidential hotline or to the internal auditor shall be preliminarily investigated by the internal auditor or referred to another office, as appropriate. If the preliminary investigation results in cause to believe that there may be a violation of policy or law, the internal auditor shall either proceed to a full audit or refer the matter to general counsel for follow up.
GUIDELINES. These guidelines are offered as examples of the issues discussed in their respective sections. They are not presented as policy and do not replace approved policy in evaluating issues of ethics and professional conduct. These guidelines may be updated as clarification is needed.
Integrity and Quality (B-1 above).
- Rules of fairness, honesty, and respect for the rights of others shall govern the individual’s conduct at all times.
- No unethical practice will be tolerated on the grounds that it is “expedient” or “customary”.
Adherence to Law (B-2 above).
- Inciting others to disobey university rules is unacceptable.
- Intentional disruption of university - sponsored or – authorized functions or activities is prohibited.
- Failure to comply with the terms and conditions of a grant or contract and its applicable laws and regulations after it has been accepted by the university, including sponsored project funding is unacceptable.
- Failure to adhere to good health and safety practices and comply with all environmental health and safety laws and regulations is unacceptable.
- All claims for reimbursement of expenses must be accurate and supported with all required receipts, and be related to official business.
Conflicts of Interest and Commitment (B-3 above).
- An employee or any dependent member of his or her family may not have an interest in any organization that has, or is seeking to have, business dealings with UI where there is an opportunity for preferential treatment to be given or received, except (a) with written consent of the president or the president's designee or (b) in any case where such an interest comprises securities in widely held corporations that are quoted and sold on the open market or in private corporations where the interest is not material.
- An employee or any dependent member of his or her family may not sell or lease any kind of property, facilities, or equipment to UI or to any company, firm, or person that is, or is seeking to become, a contractor, supplier, or customer, except with written approval by the president or the president's designee.
- An employee may not serve as an officer or director of, or in any management capacity for, or as a consultant to, any company doing or seeking to do business with UI, except with written consent of the president or the president's designee.
- An employee, without proper authority, may not give or release to anyone not employed by UI any data or information of a confidential nature concerning UI, such as that relating to decisions, plans, financial or business forecasts, or competitive bids; or to use such information to personal advantage and not in the best interest of UI--for example, by acquiring or inducing others to acquire a financial interest in a company involved in, or that may become involved in, any transaction with UI that is not generally known to the public.
- An employee or any dependent member of his or her family may not accept from any organization, firm, or person doing or seeking to do business with UI commissions; a share in profits; gifts in cash; gift certificates or other payments, loans, or advances (other than from established banking or financial institutions); materials, services, repairs, or improvements at no cost or at unreasonably low prices; excessive or extravagant entertainment; or travel or gifts of more than nominal value.
- An employee will not engage in part-time employment or enter into a consulting agreement with another entity if that action detracts from the employee’s ability to fully perform their university responsibilities and maintain the primacy of their university duties.
- Employees should pay for their own share when dining out with suppliers and contractors to ensure that the employee remains impartial and does not feel obligated to the supplier or contractor.
- Offers from suppliers and contractors for company sponsored seminars, conferences, plant visits, sporting events, etc. should generally be avoided to ensure that ethical and proper business practices are not compromised.
- When there is any doubt as to the appropriateness of accepting a benefit, gift or other type of personal benefit, the matter should be referred to the employee’s supervisor for approval.
- Visits to vendor sites, both in-state and out-of-state, for educational purposes or specific technical training as part of contract procurement, are permissible with prior authorization from the employee’s supervisor.
Privacy and Confidential Information (B-4 above).
- Breaching established rules governing confidentiality in personnel procedures is not acceptable.
- Posting or disseminating information from faculty or staff personnel records is not permitted.
- Posting or disseminating educational records, such as grades is not permitted.
Discrimination and Sexual Harassment (B-5 above).
- Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when such behavior overtly or covertly uses the power inherent in the status of the offender is not acceptable.
- Sexual behavior that has the effect of interfering with a student’s learning environment or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment is not acceptable.
Nepotism (B-6 above).
- An employee cannot provide preferential treatment or participate in decisions that impact individuals related by blood, marriage or adoption.
- An employee cannot provide preferential treatment or participate in decisions that impact an individual they intend to marry, with whom they intend to form a household, or with any other person having the same legal residence.
- An employee cannot provide preferential treatment or participate in decisions that impact an individual associated with a domestic partnership, dating or other personal relationship in which objectivity might be impaired.
University Resources (B-7 above).
- Equipment and Supplies – An employee shall not use university-issued or procured machines, office supplies, and other equipment for other than university business purposes. See APM 10.40
- UI Vehicles – An employee shall not use any UI vehicle for any purpose other than official business of the institution. See APM 5.08.
- Employee Time – An employee may not use work time for personal business.
- Institutional Credit Cards – An employee shall not use credit cards issued by the institution for personal expenses unrelated to institutional business.
- Telephones, Cell Phones, and Electronic Mail – An employee shall use university telephones, cell phones, and e-mail for institutional purposes. Incidental use for local personal calls or messages not interfering with work responsibility, however, is not a misapplication of university resources. An employee shall not charge personal long distance telephone calls to the institution. See APM 20.13 and 30.12.
- Internet – An employee’s access to the Internet via institutional computers is for institutional purposes. Incidental personal use not interfering with work responsibility, however, is not a misapplication of university resources. Improper or illegal use of the Internet by an employee may subject the individual to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. See APM 20.13 and 30.12.
- Software – Software licensed to the university is to be used for institutional purposes, not for an employee’s personal purposes, and only properly licensed software may be loaded on institutional computer; institutional licensed software may not be loaded on personal computers, except to the extent that the license authorizes loading and using the software on personal computers.
University Assets (B-8 above).
- Liability for Property Loss – When institutional property disappears, whether through theft or other cause, as a result of an employee failing to exercise reasonable care for its safekeeping, the employee shall be liable for the loss sustained by the institution. See APM 25.01.
Contracting Requirements (B-9 above).
- Employees shall not personally sign contracts on behalf of the university unless they have written delegated signature authority from the President or the Vice President for Finance. Purchases From/By Employees – An employee and their family members may not sell goods or services to the university unless the arrangement avoids any conflict of interest and is conducted consistent with university policy. No employee may directly purchase equipment or property from a department or office within the university. Sale of personal property is conducted by the University’s Surplus Property Office.
Political Campaigns and Elections (B-10 above).
- An employee will not engage in partisan political activities while on university time.
- An employee will not use university materials or equipment for the purpose of influencing a political election of any sort.
Gifts (B-11 above)
- An employee should not ask for a business courtesy.
- An employee may retain novelty, advertising, or promotional items with a market value of $50 or less, such as calendars, pens, and mugs, so long as such acceptance does not create a substantial risk of undermining impartiality. An employee may accept training opportunities provided by suppliers or customers if the training directly benefits the university, and if the training is offered to others on the same basis. Questions as to appropriateness of accepting training opportunities should be discussed with a supervisor.
- An employee should avoid a pattern of accepting frequent courtesies from the same persons or companies.
- An employee may not use their influence or authority to unduly pressure another employee or person to participate in gift giving.
- An employee’s participation in gift giving is always voluntary and shall not exceed $50.
- An employee cannot use university state appropriated funds to buy gifts.