Code of Ethics

The Office of the General Counsel is the University's Ethics Office. If you have any questions regarding any specific provision of the University's Code of Conduct and Ethics Policy (Code) or any other questions in general regarding conduct matters not specifically stated in the Code, please contact Marc Snow, Associate General Counsel, at (904) 620-2866 or via e-mail.

 

In the Code below we have provided hyperlinks to the state and federal laws and other rules and regulations, including applicable collective bargaining agreements that are the basis for the Code. Additionally, we will be updating our website to add additional resources and training information.


 

 

The University of North Florida's
Code of Conduct and Ethics


I. Introduction

The University of North Florida’s Board of Trustees and the University’s administration value high ethical standards. Thus, it is expected that all of the University’s businesses, operations and interactions with those within and outside the University community will be executed in a manner exhibiting the highest degree of ethical standards and conduct. To provide the University faculty, staff and representatives guidance and notice of their obligations, this Code of Conduct and Ethics describes general expectations for achieving and maintaining an organizational culture that affirms the University’s responsibility to protect its resources, its employees, its students and its reputation.

The University, through its faculty, staff and representatives, including contractual agents (hereinafter collectively “personnel”), is entrusted by the public with financial resources and social responsibilities. All University personnel play a key role in assuring that high standards of ethical practice are utilized regarding the custody and use of these resources. To accomplish this, it is expected that University personnel observe and be faithful to the values embodied in this Code of Conduct and Ethics so that all in the University community will enjoy a professional and supportive work environment.

This Code, however, is not intended to stand alone. Rather, it complements and serves as a link with state and federal laws and other rules and regulations, including applicable collective bargaining agreements that govern the University’s operations and its personnel’s ethical conduct. Further, this Code is described in a general manner and is not intended to address every circumstance of expected ethical behavior. As such, any member of the University community who may be confronted with an ethical dilemma should first contact his or her immediate supervisor or others in their supervisory chain, including the University’s Ethics Officer, to seek guidance in addressing issues that are not directly covered by this Code.

II. Compliance with the Law

All University personnel are required to observe and comply with all state and federal laws applicable to the University. Any questions regarding the application of law to situations, or the compliance requirements of the law, should be referred by University personnel to their immediate supervisor or any other individual in his or her supervisory chain. Should anyone in the supervisory chain require assistance in interpreting the legal requirements of compliance efforts, questions should be directed to the Office of the General Counsel.

III. Discrimination, Harassment and Mistreatment

The University supports an environment that is free of discrimination, harassment or mistreatment based on one’s membership in a protected class. Thus, any University employee who believes he or she may have experienced any form of discrimination, harassment or mistreatment based on such class membership should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity to seek guidance and assistance in addressing his or her concerns.

IV. Use of the University Resources

The University’s resources and facilities are for official and authorized use only and in furtherance of the University’s mission and organizational culture. Thus, University personnel should not misuse the University’s resources and/or facilities and should not permit others to inappropriately use these resources and/or facilities. The University understands the occasional use of certain resources (e.g. computer and telephone) for personal reasons; however, such personal use by University personnel should not result in expense to the University or interfere with the performance of required duties or the University’s mission. Moreover, it is expected that University personnel will not use any of the University’s resources and facilities for any illegal or unauthorized commercial activities, or in any manner which is inconsistent with the University’s mission. University personnel also should not allow or assist others in illegal or unauthorized commercial use of these resources.

V. Outside Activity

All full-time University personnel who desire to engage in outside activities must complete applicable outside activity forms and obtain the required supervisory approvals prior to commencing the outside activities. The requirements regarding outside activities for selected University personnel are contained in applicable collective bargaining agreements and those subject to such agreements should refer to the applicable agreements for the specific procedures for reporting outside activities. Information about disclosure of outside activities and the required forms for such reporting purposes are available from the University’s Office of Human Resources.

VI. Confidential Information

The University of North Florida is subject to Florida’s “Government-in-the-Sunshine” law meaning that most University-related documents, in any form including e-mail, are subject to request and inspection by the public. However, certain personal and official information regarding students, faculty, staff and donors are confidential and cannot be disclosed to others pursuant to federal and/or state laws, including but not limited to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state law regarding limited access to faculty evaluative information. As such, the University expects confidential information about its students, faculty, staff and donors to be protected in accordance with the provisions of these and other pertinent laws. Any questions regarding what constitutes “confidential” information and laws applicable to specific situations should be referred by University personnel to their immediate supervisor or any other individual in his or her supervisory chain. Similarly, should anyone in the supervisory chain require assistance in regarding “confidential” information, questions should be directed to the Office of the General Counsel.

VII. Using Organizational Status to Influence Business Decisions

The University expects that its personnel who hold purchasing or other decision-making positions will not attempt to use their University status to influence business transactions which may result in their experiencing any personal, financial, or material gain on behalf of themselves or others.

VIII. Nepotism/Reporting Structure

University personnel should avoid situations where they may influence the decision to hire a family member at the University. A conflict of interest would exist, for example, if personnel serve on a selection committee or in a decision-making chain where a family member has applied for employment. In such a scenario, University personnel should disclose their familial status to the chair of the selection committee or the Director of Human Resources prior to the candidates’ interview. Further, employees are not permitted to supervise family members as a conflict of interest would exist if a supervisor had to conduct a performance appraisal on a family member.

IX. Purchase of Property from Board of Trustees

No University personnel should enter into a personal agreement or a contract to purchase goods or services, except those available to the general public, from a member of the University’s Board of Trustees or the Trustee’s firm without first discussing the transaction with the University’s Office of the General Counsel. Transactions of this type may have the appearance of impropriety and result in a conflict of interest that at the very least may reflect poorly on the individual, the Trustee and/or the University.

X. Gifts and Honoraria

In accordance with Section 112.3148, Florida Statutes,  University personnel are prohibited from giving, soliciting, or accepting any gift which may give the appearance of influencing their objectivity with respect to the University’s business arrangements. Generally, personnel, in conjunction with their supervisors’ approval, may accept gifts with a value of no more than $100 as a token of appreciation or as a “thank you” for assistance with or support for a University-related program. However, acceptance of such gifts would be prohibited if it were to result in a conflict with an individual’s separate professional standard of conduct or if accepting such gifts was not permitted by the bylaws or regulations of other entities applicable to the conduct of University personnel.

XI. Use of University Intellectual Property, Copyright, Patents and Trademark

The University observes all intellectual property, patent and copyright laws and expects all University personnel to comply with the laws regarding the use of such property. For example, the University’s trademark, seal, and letterhead must only be used in relation to University-related activities and University business matters. Any other use of the University’s intellectual property is strictly prohibited. Should University personnel have any questions regarding whether their intended use of the University’s intellectual property may be in contradiction to “University-related activities and University business matters” the individual should consult their immediate supervisor or any other individual in his or her supervisory chain. Should anyone in the supervisory chain require assistance in interpreting whether the intended use of patents, copyrights or trademarks falls within accepted University activities or business matters, the supervisor should contact the University’s Office of the Provost, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, or Division of Development and Alumni Affairsto seek guidance regarding any question that they may have regarding the intended use of the intellectual property.

XII. Lobbying and Political Activity

While personal political advocacy on the part of University personnel is encouraged, only the University’s registered lobbyists are authorized to lobby issues as a representative of the University. Other personnel seeking to lobby or express political views on behalf of the University must first receive the express written approval of the President, in coordination with the University’s Office of Governmental Affairs, outlining the terms of the approved lobbying or political activity. Further, should University personnel become engaged in political advocacy or lobbying, they should make all reasonable efforts to make those with whom they come in contact aware their activities are personal endeavors and not expressed on behalf of the University.

University personnel are strictly prohibited from taking an active part in a political campaign while on duty or within periods of time during which University personnel are expected to be performing services for which he or she receives compensation from the University. Further, University personnel are prohibited from using the authority of their University position to secure support for, or oppose any candidate, party, or issue in a partisan election or affect the results of such election. Similarly, University personnel are prohibited from using a promise of reward or threat to encourage or coerce any other University personnel to support or contribute to any political issue, candidate, or party.

University personnel who desire to seek public office while employed by the University are required to first notify and obtain approval from the President. Approval shall be based upon a determination by the President, in coordination with the appropriate supervisor, department head, and division vice president that such activity would not cause a prohibited conflict of interest or interfere with the individual’s University service. In situations where the individual holding or running for public office would present a conflict or interfere with the full discharge of his or her University duties, the President may require that the individual take a leave of absence or resign his or her employment from the University.

Notwithstanding the foregoing prohibitions, nothing in this provision shall be deemed to prohibit University personnel from expressing their own opinions on any candidate or issue or from participating in any political campaign during the individual’s off-duty hours.

XIII. Use of Human Subjects in Research

The University encourages the use of research for the advancement of knowledge. However, all proposed research involving the use of human subjects for testing and obtaining data must be submitted by the primary investigator to the University’s Institutional Review Board for review and approval prior to commencing the research.

XIV. Media and Public Inquiries

All media and public inquiries for information that University personnel receive in their capacity as University representatives should be coordinated with the University’s Department of Media Relations so that all inquiries result in a timely and accurate response. The University also expects other forms of communication, such as speeches, press releases, and reports made by individuals in their capacity as University representatives, to be accurate and coordinated with the supervisor of the individual communicating the information or others in his or her supervisory chain. Should the information to be reported or released involve issues that will potentially be subject to media coverage, the supervisor should contact the Department of Media Relations prior to the information being communicated or released for that Department’s input, review and assistance. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the University is aware that many personnel routinely interact with the media and/or public in their capacity as University representatives. In such public interactions, if University personnel are providing personal or professional opinions that have not been authorized in advance by the University, the personnel should take all reasonable measures to make the public and/or media aware that the opinions expressed are their personal or professional opinions and are not being made on behalf of the University.

XV. Professional Associations’ Codes of Ethics

All University personnel who are members of professional associations external to the University are expected to abide by their association’s code of ethics and other membership guidelines. If University personnel are found to have violated an external association’s code of ethics or membership guidelines and such violation may negatively impact the University or the individual’s employment at the University, such personnel must report the alleged violation to their supervisor, or other in his or her supervisory chain so that the impact of the alleged violation may be evaluated by the appropriate University representatives.

XVI. Alleged Violations of Law

University personnel are required to disclose to their supervisor or other in his or her supervisory chain, any alleged violations of law or incidents of arrest by a law enforcement official that could impact the individual’s temporary or continued performance of their job duties. Such alleged violations of law often impact the University and its reputation and may place other University employees, students, or visitors at risk.

XVII. Procedures for Alleged Violations

All employees are responsible for complying with the University’s Code of Conduct and Ethics and are required to report an alleged violation of this Code to his or her immediate supervisor, anyone in their supervisory chain, or the University’s Ethics Officer. The Ethics Officer in the Office of the General Counsel is responsible for conducting a review of the incident(s) in question and forwarding the information to the appropriate University representatives for review.

XVIII. Conclusion

All University personnel are required to become familiar with this Code and conduct themselves in an ethical manner in the performance of their University duties and responsibilities. Should any personnel require advice or clarification regarding their obligations pursuant to this Code, they should consult their supervisor or appropriate University representative in order to gain an understanding of the requirements of this Code so that the reputation of those covered by this Code, including the University, continues to be held in high regard by all that with whom we interact.