Professional Conduct and Ethics

The University of Virginia subscribes to the following Code of Ethics, approved by the Board of Visitors: 

  1. Compliance and Ethics: We perform our responsibilities ethically and honestly, in compliance with all University policies and applicable federal, state, and local laws.
  2. Use of University Resources: We use University resources only for their intended business purpose, as aligned with the University’s mission. We promote accurate financial reporting, protection of the University’s assets, and responsible fiscal management. Our expenditures are reasonable and necessary.
  3. Conflicts of Interest: We uphold our primary professional responsibilities to the University and the Commonwealth of Virginia, and actively avoid and report all actual, potential, and perceived conflicts of interest.
  4. Gifts and Gratuities: We perform our public duties without accepting, soliciting or offering anything of economic value such as gifts, gratuities, favors, or benefits that may improperly influence our professional judgment or seek to influence the judgment of others.
  5. Confidentiality: We preserve the confidentiality and security of University records and we protect the privacy of individuals who provide personal information to the University. We access information only as necessary and disclose information only to those individuals with a legitimate reason to receive it.
  6. Equal Opportunity: We promote an inclusive and welcoming community that respects the rights, abilities, and opinions of all people. We value equal opportunity and diversity. We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind.
  7. Respectful Workplace: We treat every individual with kindness, dignity and respect, regardless of position or status. We provide a safe and healthy environment for working, living, and learning. We collaborate with others in a positive and respectful manner
  8. Honesty and Integrity: We act and communicate honestly and with integrity, upholding the University’s values at all times. We do not condone dishonesty by anyone in any form, including fraud, theft, cheating, plagiarism or lying.
  9. Reporting Without Fear of Retaliation: We report all violations of law or University policy, without fear of retaliation for reports made in good faith. We investigate all concerns and determine corrective action. We will cooperate with all investigations into suspected wrongdoing.

The University of Virginia also subscribes to the Statement on Professional Ethics of the AAUP (AAUP Policy Documents & Reports, 2015 Edition, pp. 145-146). The applicable portions of the AAUP’s introduction and statement are reprinted here:

In the enforcement of ethical standards, the academic profession differs from those of law and medicine, whose associations act to ensure the integrity of members engaged in private practice. In the academic profession, the individual institution of higher learning provides this assurance and so should normally handle questions concerning propriety of conduct within its own framework by reference to a faculty group. 

Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it. To this end professors devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty. Although professors may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry. 

As teachers, professors encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. They hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline. Professors demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors. Professors make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to ensure that their evaluations of students reflect each student’s true merit. They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student. They avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students. They acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from them. They protect their academic freedom.

As colleagues, professors have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. Professors do not discriminate against or harass colleagues. They respect and defend the free inquiry of associates, even when it leads to findings and conclusions that differ from their own. Professors acknowledge academic debt and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues. Professors accept their share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of their institution.

As members of an academic institution, professors seek above all to be effective teachers and scholars. Although professors observe the stated regulations of the institution, provided the regulations do not contravene academic freedom, they maintain their right to criticize and seek revision. Professors give due regard to their paramount responsibilities within their institution in determining the amount and character of work done outside it. When considering the interruption or termination of their service, professors recognize the effect of their decision upon the program of the institution and give due notice of their intentions.

As members of their community, professors have the rights and obligations of other citizens. Professors measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of their responsibilities to their subject, to their students, to their profession, and to their institution. When they speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university. As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, professors have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.

Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) policy 2.35, Civility in the Workplace, which applies to all faculty, states that:

It is the policy of the Commonwealth to foster a culture that demonstrates the principles of civility, diversity, inclusion, and equity. In keeping with this commitment, workplace harassment (including sexual harassment), bullying (including cyber-bullying), and workplace violence of any kind are prohibited in state government agencies.

DHRM provides a companion policy guide to 2.35. See section 4.3, Dispute Resolution Policies and Procedures below for more information about University and UVA human resources policies and procedures, which implement this policy and numerous other federal and state laws.