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UC Statement of Ethical Values and Standards of Ethical Conduct

The Statement of Ethical Values is available as a PDF.  

Statement of Ethical Values

Members of the University of California community are committed to the highest ethical standards in advancing our mission of teaching, research and public service. We recognize that we hold the University in trust for the people of the State of California. Our policies, procedures and standards provide guidance for application of the ethical values stated below in our daily life and work as members of this community.

We are committed to:

We will conduct ourselves with integrity in our dealings with and on behalf of the University.

We will conscientiously strive for excellence in our work.

We will be accountable as individuals and as members of this community for our ethical conduct and for compliance with applicable laws and University policies and directives.

We will respect the rights and dignity of others.

Standards of Ethical Conduct

Pursuit of the University of California's mission of teaching, research and public service requires a shared commitment to the core values of the University as well as a commitment to the ethical conduct of all University activities. In that spirit, the Standards of Ethical Conduct ​​are a statement of our belief in ethical, legal and professional behavior in all of our dealings inside and outside the University.

The Standards of ​Ethical Conduct apply to all members of the University com­munity, including The Regents, Officers of The Regents, faculty and other academic personnel, staff, students, volunteers, contractors, agents and oth­ers associated with the University. Organizationally, the St​andards apply to campuses, the National Laboratories, the Office of the President, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, campus organizations, foundations, alumni associations and support groups.​

1. Fair Dealing
Members of the University community are expected to conduct themselves ethically, honestly and with integrity in all dealings. This means principles of fairness, good faith and respect consistent with laws, regulations and University policies govern our conduct with others both inside and outside the community. Each situation needs to be examined in accordance with the Standards of Ethical Conduct. No unlawful practice or a practice at odds with these standards can be justified on the basis of customary practice, expediency or achieving a “higher” purpose.

2. Individual Responsibility and Accountability
Members of the University community are expected to exercise responsibility appro­priate to their position and delegated authorities. They are responsible to each other, the University and the University’s stakeholders both for their actions and their deci­sions not to act. Each individual is expected to conduct the University business in accordance with the Core Values and the Standards of Ethical Conduct, exercising sound judgment and serving the best interests of the institution and the community.

3. Respect for Others
The University is committed to the principle of treating each community member with respect and dignity. The University prohibits discrimination and harassment and provides equal opportunities for all community members and applicants regard­less of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer related or genetic characteristics), ances­try, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or status as a covered veteran. Further, romantic or sexual relationships between faculty members responsible for academic supervision, evaluation or instruction and their students are prohibited. The Univer­sity is committed to creating a safe and drug-free workplace. The following is a list of the principle policies and reference materials available in support of this standard:

The University’s health sciences enterprises are committed to the ethical and compas­sionate treatment of patients and have established policies and statements of patient rights in support of this principle.

4. Compliance with Applicable Laws and Regulations
Institutions of higher education are subject to many of the same laws and regula­tions as other enterprises, as well as those particular to public entities. There are also additional requirements unique to higher education. Members of the University community are expected to become familiar with the laws and regulations bearing on their areas of responsibility. Many but not all legal requirements are embodied in University policies. Failure to comply can have serious adverse consequences both for individuals and for the University, in terms of reputation, finances and the health and safety of the community. University business is to be conducted in conformance with legal requirements, including contractual commitments undertaken by individuals authorized to bind the University to such commitments.

The Office of the General Counsel has responsibility for interpretation of legal requirements.

5. Compliance with Applicable University Policies, Procedures and Other Forms of Guidance
University policies and procedures are designed to inform our everyday responsibili­ties, to set minimum standards and to give University community members notice of expectations. Members of the University community are expected to transact all University business in conformance with policies and procedures and accordingly have an obligation to become familiar with those that bear on their areas of respon­sibility. Each member is expected to seek clarification on a policy or other University directive he or she finds to be unclear, outdated or at odds with University objectives. It is not acceptable to ignore or disobey policies if one is not in agreement with them, or to avoid compliance by deliberately seeking loopholes.

In some cases, University employees are also governed by ethical codes or standards of their professions or disciplines — some examples are attorneys, auditors, physicians and counseling staff. It is expected that those employees will comply with applicable professional standards in addition to laws and regulations.

6. Conflicts of Interest or Commitment
Employee members of the University community are expected to devote primary professional allegiance to the University and to the mission of teaching, research and public service. Outside employment must not interfere with University duties. Outside professional activities, personal financial interests, or acceptance of benefits from third parties can create actual or perceived conflicts between the University’s mission and an individual’s private interests. University community members who have certain professional or financial interests are expected to disclose them in com­pliance with applicable conflict of interest/conflict of commitment policies. In all matters, community members are expected to take appropriate steps, including con­sultation if issues are unclear, to avoid both conflicts of interest and the appearance of such conflicts.

7. Ethical Conduct of Research
All members of the University community engaged in research are expected to conduct their research with integrity and intellectual honesty at all times and with appropriate regard for human and animal subjects. To protect the rights of human subjects, all research involving human subjects is to be reviewed by institutional review boards. Similarly, to protect the welfare of animal subjects, all research involv­ing animal subjects is to be reviewed by institutional animal care and use commit­tees. The University prohibits research misconduct. Members of the University com­munity engaged in research are not to: fabricate data or results; change or knowingly omit data or results to misrepresent results in the research record; or intentionally misappropriate the ideas, writings, research or findings of others. All those engaged in research are expected to pursue the advancement of knowledge while meeting the highest standards of honesty, accuracy and objectivity. They are also expected to demonstrate accountability for sponsors’ funds and to comply with specific terms and conditions of contracts and grants.

8. Records: Confidentiality/Privacy and Access
The University is the custodian of many types of information, including that which is confidential, proprietary and private. Individuals who have access to such informa­tion are expected to be familiar and to comply with applicable laws, University poli­cies, directives and agreements pertaining to access, use, protection and disclosure of such information. Computer security and privacy are also subject to law and Univer­sity policy.

Information on the University’s principles of privacy or on specific privacy laws may be obtained from the respective campus or laboratory information privacy office.

The public right to access information and the individual’s right to privacy are both governed by state and federal law, as well as by University policies and procedures. The legal provisions and the policies are based upon the principle that access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person, as is the right of individuals to privacy.

9. Internal Controls
Internal controls are the processes employed to help ensure that the University’s business is carried out in accordance with these s​tandards, University policies and procedures, applicable laws and regulations and sound business practices. They help to promote efficient operations, accurate financial reporting, protection of assets and responsible fiscal management. All members of the University community are re­sponsible for internal controls. Each business unit or department head is specifically responsible for ensuring that internal controls are established, properly documented and maintained for activities within their jurisdiction. Any individual entrusted with funds, including principal investigators, is responsible for ensuring that adequate in­ternal controls exist over the use and accountability of such funds. The University has adopted the principles of internal controls published by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (COSO) of the Treadway Commission.

10. Use of University Resources
University resources may only be used for activities on behalf of the University. They may not be used for private gain or personal purposes except in limited circum­stances permitted by existing policy where incidental personal use does not conflict with and is reasonable in relation to University duties (e.g. telephones). Members of the University community are expected to treat University property with care and to adhere to laws, policies and procedures for the acquisition, use, maintenance, record keeping and disposal of University property. For purposes of applying this policy, University resources is defined to include but not be limited to the following, whether owned by or under the management of the University (for example, property of the federal government at the National Laboratories):

  • Cash and other assets whether tangible or intangible; real or personal property;
  • Receivables and other rights or claims against third parties;
  • Intellectual property rights;
  • Effort of University personnel and of any non-University entity billing the University for effort;
  • Facilities and the rights to use University facilities;
  • The University’s name;
  • University records, including student and patient records; and
  • The University's information technology infrastructure.

11. Financial Reporting
All University accounting and financial records, tax reports, expense reports, time sheets and effort reports, and other documents including those submitted to govern­ment agencies must be accurate, clear and complete. All published financial reports will make full, fair, accurate, timely and understandable disclosures as required under generally accepted accounting principles for government entities, bond cov­enant agreements and other requirements. Certain individuals with responsibility for the preparation of financial statements and disclosures, or elements thereof, may be required to make attestations in support of the Sta​ndards.

12. Reporting Violations and Protection from Retaliation
Members of the University community are strongly encouraged to report all known or suspected improper governmental activities (IGAs) under the provisions of the Policy on Reporting and Investigating Allegations of Suspected Im​proper Governmental Activities​ (Whistleblower Policy). Managers and persons in supervisory roles are required to report allegations presented to them and to report suspected IGAs that come to their attention in the ordinary course of performing their supervisory duties. Reporting parties, including managers and supervisors, will be protected from retali­ation for making such a report under the Policy for Protection of Whistleblowers from Retaliation and Guidelines for Reviewing Retaliation Complaints​ (Whistleblower Retalia­tion Policy).

Adopted by The Regents of the University of California May 2005.