Faculty Ethics

Policy Memorandum No. 102

Recommended by the Commission on Faculty Affairs
Approved by University Council: April 17, 1989
Approved by the President: April 17, 1989
Effective: Immediately

By our personal example each of us makes a statement that is instrumental in shaping the behavior of others, especially students. For that reason, I am pleased to approve for implementation this policy memo on faculty ethics. This resolution creates a Committee on Faculty Ethics and amends the FACULTY HANDBOOK. The resolution resulted from an action of the Joint Faculty Senate-Commission on Faculty Affairs Task Force on Faculty Ethics.

The resolution also proposes new language for a statement which is "intended to serve as a guide for new faculty and as a reinforcement for the ideals and goals of experienced faculty."

Following is the text of the policy as adopted by Council.

WHEREAS There currently exists no institutional mechanism whereby breaches of the Statement of Professional Ethics and Responsibilities contained in section 2.2 of the FACULTY HANDBOOK can be addressed by the Faculty itself; and

WHEREAS this statement currently makes no reference to the obligation of faculty members to uphold the University Honor System;

LET IT BE RESOLVED, in accordance with the recommendation of the Joint Faculty Senate-Commission on Faculty Affairs Task Force on Faculty Ethics, that section 1.4.9 of the current FACULTY HANDBOOK be amended as follows:

  1. To the list of standing committees of the Faculty Senate should be added the "Committee on Faculty Ethics," and

  2. To the end of the section should be added the following paragraph

    The Committee on Faculty Ethics is composed of one faculty member from each college, and one each from the library and the Extra-Collegiate Division Faculty, appointed by the President of the Faculty Senate with the advice of the Senate Cabinet. All members of this committee have tenure or continued appointment. The Senate President designates one member of the Committee to serve as chair. Voting members of the committee on Faculty Ethics serve a two-year appointment, and are limited to serving two consecutive terms.

    The functions and duties of the Committee on Faculty Ethics are to receive and consider all charges of violations of faculty ethics (as defined in Section 2.2). Any individual may bring incidents to the attention of the committee by submitting information, in writing, to the chair of the committee. The committee will review the charge, may interview the principals, and may conduct such other investigations as it deems appropriate. Strict confidentiality will be maintained in all aspects of the cases brought before the committee, although public censure is a possible punitive action that the committee can recommend. The committee will formulate a written recommendation. For cases where it is deemed that a breach of faculty ethics has occurred, the committee's verdict along with a recommendation for prescribed action will be reported to the Provost. The chair of the committee shall give a statistical summary of the cases brought before it and their disposition to the Faculty Senate annually.


LET IT FURTHER BE RESOLVED that section 2.2 of the current FACULTY HANDBOOK should be replaced in its entirety by the following:

The following statement was proposed by the Commission on Faculty Affairs and was endorsed by the Faculty Senate and the University Council in the academic year 1977-78 and rewritten in 1987-88. The statement is intended to serve as a guide for new faculty and as a reinforcement for the ideals and goals of experienced faculty.

Faculty members, because of their position, have an opportunity and a responsibility to be a model for their students and colleagues as they carry out their responsibilities and duties in teaching, research, and administration. Indeed, faculty members cannot expect honesty, integrity, or a commitment to any other value from their students until the faculty members themselves have demonstrated complete commitment to such values. Such a commitment can be displayed by observing the highest standards of professional behavior and community citizenship. In addition, as members of the University community, faculty members recognize their responsibilities to the University, their colleagues and their profession. They shall:

  1. Prepare their courses so that they bring the best achievements in their field to the students' attention and make each course a significant educational experience that is challenging to all students.

  2. Present the subject matter fairly and objectively, recognizing differing views in not allowing personal biases to be given in the form of objective information.

  3. Specify expectations and standards, and assign grades in a manner consistent with the students' attainment of their expectations and adherence to these standards.

  4. Make a thorough and useful criticism of student work and return written work and examinations on a timely basis. Faculty members should be available for consultation on a schedule that is accessible to most of their students.

  5. Uphold the University Honor System and adhere to its implementation.

  6. Uphold the academic freedom of their students and colleagues and promote an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.

  7. Give credit to colleagues or students who have made a contribution to published work or oral presentation. Particular sensitivity should be shown, and written acknowledgement given, in the preparation and submission of research papers which find their basis in graduate student theses or reports.

  8. Exhibit full intellectual honesty in the collection and presentation of research data, avoiding any manipulation of such data to support preconceived conclusions.

  9. Make every effort to gain first-hand knowledge of a colleague's written work or teaching manner and effectiveness before commenting on it and avoid undue criticism of the research or teaching of colleagues, especially in the presence of students.

  10. Respond to requests for references for colleagues or students candidly and promptly.

  11. Not use their University affiliation to promote themselves or their ideas in a context unrelated to their professional competency.

  12. Report all violations in writing to the Committee on Faculty Ethics.


President's Policy Memorandum

URL: http://purl.vt.edu/vtdocs/policies/ppm102