Section 2 - General Policies

Policy Number: 2.23 - CODE OF ETHICS


1. Policy:

Lamar University is committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct and integrity in an effort to provide the public with the utmost level of confidence in our organization, educational services, administrative business processes, and financial data. The University holds a position of trust with respect to many external organizations and agencies. Accordingly, all university personnel have a responsibility to the government, donors, parents and students to use the University’s funds prudently, ethically, and for the purposes for which they are designated. Ethical conduct has been and continues to be the foundation of our institution. To that end, the University has adopted the following Code of Ethics that must be followed by all administrators, faculty, and staff members. Ethical behavior and integrity are the responsibility of each and every member of the faculty and staff, and any other person acting on behalf of the University. In particular, University executives and account managers must assume responsibility for ensuring that their conduct, and the conduct of those they supervise, complies with this Code. Business activities undertaken on behalf of the University with the public, the government, vendors, students, and one another must reflect the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and fairness. Each individual must be especially careful to avoid even the appearance of misconduct or impropriety.

2. All employees must:

2.1 Perform their work with honesty, objectivity, diligence, and responsibility.

2.2 Act with a high level of prudence and due professional care, avoiding any real or apparent conflicts of interest.

2.3 Act in good faith without misrepresenting material facts or allowing their independent judgment to be subordinated.

2.4 Accord respect to self and others and accept responsibility for all actions.

2.5 Observe the law and make disclosures expected by the law.

2.6 Not knowingly be a party to any illegal activity or engage in acts that may bring discredit to the University.

2.7 Comply with all University and Texas State University System policies and procedures.

2.8 Proactively promote ethical behavior among peers, in the work environment, and the community.

2.9 Exercise responsible use and control over all University assets and resources.

2.10 Respect and contribute to the legitimate and ethical objectives of the University.

2.11 Accept and respect diversity in our community and adherence to the University’s Affirmative Action and Non-Discrimination policies.

3. Gratuities and "Kickbacks":

University employees shall not use their positions to secure special privileges for themselves, their relatives (see definition below under Nepotism), or friends. Employees shall not give, offer or promise anything of value to anyone to enhance relations with that individual or their firm, regardless of whether that individual is in a position to influence any decisions with respect to the University or its activities. This includes, but is not limited to, entertainment, meals, refreshments, gratuities or gifts, loans, rewards, compensation, or other monetary remuneration. This also applies to all contractors, subcontractors, and/or vendors for the purpose of improperly obtaining or receiving favorable treatment. Nor shall any university personnel solicit or accept anything of value from any government official, contractor, subcontractor, vendor or others for such a purpose.

4. Conflict of Interest:

All employees must ensure that no conflicts of interest exist. The University administration has an obligation, in accordance with TSUS and THECB Policies, to ensure that staff members avoid conflicts of interest and to assure that the activities and interests of its employees do not conflict with their obligations to the institution or its well-being. A conflict of interest arises when staff members place themselves in a position where they could use their professional influence to create benefits for their private interests or to give improper advantage to others. When a staff member has a significant interest in, or a consulting arrangement with, a private business, it is important that he/she avoid conflicts of interest. Staff members are encouraged to direct inquiries relative to conflict of interest concerns to their unit director and/or division executive officers. In those situations where a possible conflict of interest may occur, management shall take action which may include relieving the employee of the position or particular responsibility and assigning the matter to another qualified employee who does not have a conflict of interest. When an employee has sold or terminated his/her interest in a business, he/she cannot be involved in any transaction with the business for one year.

5. Conflict of Commitment:

With the acceptance of a full-time position at Lamar University, every employee is expected to accord the University their primary professional loyalty and to arrange outside obligations, financial interests, and activities so as not to conflict with their overriding commitment to the University. All part-time employees are expected to accord the University said loyalty during such times as set forth in respective contracts, both oral and written. Consultants are also expected to arrange their outside obligations and activities so as not to conflict with their contracted commitment to the University.

A conflict of commitment occurs when an employee’s involvement in external activities adversely affects his/her capacity to meet the primary obligation to the University, as exhibited by a perceptible reduction of the individual’s time and energy devoted to university activities.

Certain outside activities are permissible with appropriate notice to and written approval by the appropriate department head, so long as these endeavors do not interfere with an employee’s obligation to the University.

6. Nepotism:

Blood or marital relationships with other university staff members are not generally regarded as a deterrent to appointment, reassignment or continuance in a present position. Close relatives may not be employed where one is in a position of influence over another. Close relatives include husband or wife, parent or child, son-in-law daughter-in-law, brothers or sisters. A position of influence exists in instances where selection for employment and judgments concerning performance, compensation, status, fitness for promotion or discipline/discharge requires the action of one person with respect to the other.

The nepotism statutes found in Government Code, Chapter 573, state that public officials are not allowed to appoint, confirm, or vote for the appointment or confirmation of a person to a position that is compensated from public funds or fees if they are related within the third degree of consanguinity or within the second degree of affinity. Individuals are related by consanguinity if

one is a descendant of the other, or if they share a common ancestor. An adopted child is considered to be the child of an adoptive parent for this purpose. Individuals are related to each other by affinity if they are married to each other, or the spouse of one of the individuals is related by consanguinity to the other individual.

For further information see Texas State University System Rules and Regulations, Chapter V, Section 2.2 and the Human Resources Policy and Procedure 3.9.

7. Confidentiality:

Security and confidentiality of university records are matters of concern for all staff with access to written or computerized information and files. Each person working with university information holds a position of trust, and must recognize the responsibility to preserve the security and confidentiality of the information. Since a person’s conduct, either on or off the job, may threaten the security and confidentiality of this information, any employee or person with authorized access to University data and records is expected:

7.1 not to make or permit unauthorized use of any information or files.

7.2 not to seek personal benefit or permit others to benefit personally through any confidential information which has come to them through their work assignment.

7.3 not to exhibit or divulge the contents of any record or report to any person except in the conduct of their regular work assignment.

7.4 not to remove any official record of report (or copy) from the office where it is kept except in performance of regular duties or in cases with prior approval.

7.5 not to operate or request others to operate any university computing equipment for personal business.

7.6 not to aid, abet or act in conspiracy with any other person to violate any part of this code; and,

7.7 not to post information on his/her personal Student Information System record or account or the record or account of a relative. An employee is prohibited from posting inaccurate information to his/her personal Human Resources records or those of a relative. The definition of relative is the same as that used in the nepotism policy. See HR Policy 3.9.

7.8 to immediately report any violation of this code to management.

8. Competency:

All employees have an obligation to execute their duties and responsibilities with professional care and skill to the best of their knowledge and abilities. To that end, all employees must familiarize themselves with the appropriate university and/or departmental policies and procedures, applicable laws and regulations, and other rules as required in performing their respective jobs.

9. Publicity of Individuals Restricted:

No State appropriated funds may be used for the purpose of publicizing or directing attention to any individual official or employee of the University. This prohibition does not prevent the dissemination of information in respect to the work, legal responsibilities, or activities of the University.

10. Political Influence: The General Appropriations Act regularly prohibits the use of State funds "regardless of their sources or character for influencing the outcome of any election, or the passage or defeat of any legislative measure." This prohibition does not extend to furnishing information or facts pertinent to the official duties and responsibilities of the University.

11. Financial Reporting:

All university accounts, financial reports, tax returns, expense reimbursements, time sheets and other documents, including those submitted to government agencies, must be completed and maintained accurately, clearly, timely, and completely. All entries in university books and records, including departmental accounts and individual expense reports, must accurately and completely reflect each transaction. It is unlawful for an employee to take any action that fraudulently influences, coerces, manipulates, or misleads an auditor engaged in the performance of an audit for the purpose of rendering the financial statements materially misleading.

12. Reporting Code Violations:

Employees should report suspected violations of this Code, applicable laws, regulations, and government grant and contract requirements through standard management reporting channels, beginning with the immediate supervisor. Alternatively, employees may go to a higher level of management and may also report suspected violations or problems to the Director of Office of Audits and Analysis. In all instances, suspected violations of laws or regulations should be reported to the Director of Office of Audits and Analysis (880-1766). Suspected violations may also be reported to Ethics Point hotline at 866-294-0987 or on-line at . Such reports may be made confidentially and/or anonymously although a greater level of information allows for a more thorough investigation. All employees should cooperate fully in the investigation of any misconduct. Raising such concerns is a service to the University and, consistent with the State of Texas’ Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, will not jeopardize employment. Persons found to be making frivolous claims under this policy will be disciplined, up to and including termination of employment or expulsion from the University.

13. Consequences of Violations:

Each person is responsible for ensuring that their own conduct, and the conduct of anyone reporting to them, fully complies with this Code and with the University’s policies. Violations will result in appropriate disciplinary action up to and including discharge from employment. Disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with the procedures applicable to faculty or staff as codified in the Faculty Handbook or Human Resources Policies and Procedures Manual. Conduct which is a violation of this Code may, in some circumstances, also subject an individual to civil or criminal charges and penalties.