5.1.3 Business Ethics Policy

Staff members will maintain the highest ethical standards in the conduct of University affairs. The intent of this policy is that each staff member will conduct the University’s business with integrity and comply with all applicable laws in a manner that is consistent with the mission and excludes consideration of personal advantage or gain.

The following is a summary of the University’s policy with respect to (1) gifts, favors, entertainment and payment given or received by the University staff members; (2) potential conflicts of interest; and (3) certain other matters.

Gifts, Favors and Payments by the University

Gifts, favors and payments may be given to others at the University’s expense if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • They are consistent with accepted business practices;
  • They are of sufficiently limited value and in a form that will not be construed as a bribe or payoff;
  • They are not in violation of applicable law and generally accepted ethical standards; and
  • Public disclosure of the facts will not embarrass the University.
  • Payments, commissions or other compensation to or for the benefit of students or vendors (or their family members or associates) not required by written contract are contrary to the University’s policy.

Gifts, Favors, Entertainment and Payments Received by University Staff

Staff members shall not seek or accept for themselves or others any gifts, favors, entertainment or payments without a legitimate business purpose nor shall they seek or accept personal loans other than conventional loans at market rates from lending institution(s) from any persons or business organizations that do or seek to do business with or is a competitor of the University.
 
In the application of this policy, a staff member may accept for him/herself and members of his/her family common courtesies usually associated with customary business practices. These include but are not limited to:

  • Lunch and/or dinner with vendors, sometimes including spouses, as long as the invitation is extended by the vendor;
  • Gifts of small value from vendors such as calendars, pens, pads, etc.;
  • Tickets to events (such as sports, arts, etc.) if offered by the vendor and the vendor accompanies the staff member to the event. These are not to be solicited by the staff member and, if vendor does not accompany the staff member to the events, must be approved by the appropriate supervisor; and
  • Gifts of perishable items usually given during the holidays such as hams, cookies, nuts, etc.

A strict standard is expected with respect to gifts, services, discounts, entertainment or considerations of any kinds from suppliers.
 
Day outings such as golf, fishing and museum trips are acceptable with prior approval from the appropriate supervisor. The vendor must be in attendance and participation by the staff member’s family must be approved by the appropriate supervisor.
 
Use of the vendor’s facilities (vacation homes, etc.) by a staff member or his/her family for personal use is prohibited. The situation is acceptable only in the event the visit is limited to once per year and for limited duration (i.e., long weekend) and the vendor is present for the duration of the visit. The staff member must have prior approval from the appropriate supervisor.
 
It is never permissible to accept a gift in cash or cash equivalent, such as stocks or other forms of marketable securities, in any amount.
 
Supervisors should not accept gifts from those under their supervision of more than limited value.

Receiving Gifts to the University

Gifts come to the University in many forms – cash, checks, gifts in kind (tangible property), stocks, real estate and trusts and estates. In defining gifts the University follows the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) management and reporting standards. Their definition of a gift is as follows:
 
Gift
A contribution received by an institution for either unrestricted or restricted use in the furtherance of the institution for which the institution has made no commitment of resources or service, other than possibly committing to use the gift as the donor specifies.
 
Grant
A contribution received by an institution for either unrestricted or restricted use in the furtherance of the institution that typically comes from a corporation, foundation or other organization rather than an individual.
 
All gifts, whatever the format, should be given to the Office of University Advancement for processing: to be properly receipted, acknowledged and accounted for. The Internal Revenue Service mandates that the university provide a receipt for every charitable gift. The Office of University Advancement enters gifts into the Raiser’s Edge database and produces receipts and acknowledgments. All checks, credit card information and other relevant data are then transferred to the Business Office. The Business Office and the Office of University Advancement are in daily communication and share account information. Staff members can draw on gift accounts through usual Business Office procedures.
 
All University departments must follow the proper procedures and send all gifts, no matter how small, with appropriate documentation to the Office of University Advancement in Power Hall. This process ensures that all gifts and donors are counted and enhances the University’s statistics for other funding entities.

Conflicts of Interest

Staff members should avoid any situation which involves or may involve a conflict between his/her personal interest and the interest of the University. As in all other facets of their duties, staff members dealing with students, prospective students, parents, suppliers, contractors, competitors or any person doing or seeking to do business with the University are to act in the best interest of the University. Each staff member shall make prompt and full disclosure in writing to his or her supervisor or the appropriate senior administrator of any potential situation which may involve a conflict of interest and refrain from further participation until such time as the conflict can be reviewed and resolved.
 
For the purposes of this statement a staff member shall be considered to have a possible conflict if either:

  • The staff member, his/her family or associate has or appears to have any material, financial or other interest which may impair the staff member’s judgment in carrying out the responsibilities delegated by the University; or
  • May gain a personal benefit from the knowledge of information deemed confidential to the University. Family is defined as spouse or domestic partner, parents, siblings, children and, if living in the same household, other relatives.

An associate includes all persons, organizations, enterprises or trusts in which the staff member or members of his/her family:

  • Is a director, officer, staff member, partner or trustee; or
  • Has any material association.

Such conflicts include:

  • Ownership by staff member or by a member of his/her family of a significant interest in any outside enterprise which does or seeks to do business with or is a competitor of the University;
  • Serving as a director, officer, partner or consultant or in a managerial or technical capacity with an outside enterprise which does or is seeking to do business with or is a competitor of the University. Exceptions to this can be approved by the president of the University;
  • Acting as a broker, finder, go-between or otherwise for the benefit of a third party in transactions involving or potentially involving the University or its interests; and
  • Any other arrangements or circumstances, including family or other personal relationships, which might dissuade the staff member from acting in the best interest of the University.

Compliance

Any violation of this policy will subject the staff member to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Any staff member having knowledge of any violation of the policy shall promptly report such violation to the appropriate manager or director of human resources. Each vice president or cabinet member of the University is responsible for compliance in his/her area of responsibility. When questions arise concerning any aspect of this policy, contact the director of Human Resources.