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Policies and Procedures

6.10 Ethics and Academic Responsibility


To outline ethical standards of responsibility for faculty members to scholarship, students, colleagues, the university, and the larger community which the university serves.

Policy Statement:

The basic functions of the university are the advancement and dissemination of learning, the development of critical intelligence, creative talent, aesthetic sensibility and moral awareness in its students, and the training of citizens and professional workers for the society of which the university is a part.

The indispensable condition for the successful discharge of these functions is an atmosphere of intellectual freedom. Unless the faculty member is free to pursue the quest for knowledge and understanding, wherever it may lead, and to report and discuss findings, whatever they may be, the university faculty member cannot perform properly. The university, therefore, must provide such an atmosphere of intellectual freedom for its faculty. The faculty, in turn, must uphold this freedom in all its actions.

Freedom entails responsibilities. Every faculty member must accept the responsibilities which are concomitant with the freedom which is enjoyed. Those responsibilities are to: (1) scholarship, (2) students, (3) colleagues, (4) the university, and (5) the larger community which the university serves.

  1. Scholarly Responsibilities

    The faculty member's responsibilities to scholarship derive from the university' s commitment to knowledge and the advancement of learning. Thus the faculty member must strive to keep abreast of the research and scholarship that is being carried forward.

    1. In their teaching and research, faculty members have an obligation to appropriately acknowledge contributions made by students, colleagues, and others.

    2. The faculty members have the responsibility of being unfailingly honest in research and teaching, taking precautions against common causes of error, and avoiding dogmatic assertion.

    3. In all research, including contract research, the faculty member's responsibility to scholarship remains unqualified. It is inappropriate to selectively marshal evidence for a preconceived result. The faculty member's commitment to academic honesty must not be compromised.

    4. There are times when the national security requires that certain research be carried on in secret and requires further that the results of that research be classified as secret or confidential. In these circumstances, it is proper for the university, or for a faculty member of the university, to carry on secret research and to permit the results of that research to be classified. In all other circumstances, however, secrecy of research and classification of knowledge are incompatible with the university's commitment to the advancement of learning.

    5. In the face of increasing commercially sponsored research, faculty members should identify potential conflicts of interest and maintain a tradition of disinterested inquiry.

    6. When the object of study is a human being, the faculty member should take all due effort to protect and preserve the dignity of the person or persons involved in studies conducted by the faculty member or under the faculty member's supervision. To this end, all research conducted by UNI faculty, students, and staff that involves human subjects -- questionnaires, surveys, interviews, observations -- must be reviewed by the University institutional review board before the research begins.

    7. Research done using animals should proceed in the most humane fashion possible.

  2. Faculty Responsibilities to Students

    Faculty members have the responsibility for creating in their relations with students a climate that stimulates and encourages students to learn. Faculty should exemplify high scholarly standards and respect and foster students' freedom to choose and pursue appropriate academic goals.

    1. Faculty members have the obligation to make clear the objectives of each course or program, to establish requirements, to set standards of achievement, and to evaluate student performance fairly and impartially.

    2. Students are entitled to the same intellectual freedom that faculty members enjoy. Faculty should respect that freedom, and encourage students to explore alternative perspectives.

    3. The student's freedom to learn must be protected. Repressive or disruptive actions on the part of some individuals must not be permitted to interfere with the learning activities of others.

    4. Faculty members have the obligation to meet their classroom and other instructional responsibilities.

    5. Faculty members should teach their courses consistent with the course description in the catalogue and the syllabus. They should make course objectives and requirements clear, and not persistently interject irrelevant views and material. Because learning is furthered when students are adequately prepared to deal with course materials, faculty members should set course content within an appropriate context. The University is also bound by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, policy on Notification of Students of Class Content (6.28), which reads:

      Faculty members may decide for sound pedagogical reasons that it is necessary to use course materials that include representations of human sexual acts. When such materials involve photo or film depictions, information sufficient to enable individual students to make a knowledgeable choice about whether to take that course, or attend a specific class session must be available. Students will not be penalized for not attending a specific class session if such material is to be shown, but students are responsible for learning the content of the class session. (Board of Regents Minutes October 20, 1993, p.288)

    6. Faculty members have a responsibility to make themselves reasonably available to students and should make known the times and places of their availability.

    7. Because it is important for the timely achievement of the students' academic goals, faculty members should take care to advise students accurately.

    8. Faculty members must respect the confidentiality of information provided by students, except in cases where disclosure is required by law.

  3. Responsibilities to Colleagues

    The faculty member's responsibilities to colleagues derive from their common membership in the community of scholars.

    1. Faculty members must defend academic freedom and show respect for intellectual inquiries of colleagues.

    2. When called upon by appropriate authority to evaluate a colleague, the faculty members should be candid. The faculty members should be careful to confine their evaluations to professionally relevant matter.

  4. Responsibilities to the University

    The faculty member's primary responsibility to the University is to be an effective scholar and teacher. In addition, the faculty member is expected to actively participate as a citizen of the University community.

    1. Faculty members who present information publicly should be careful to clarify whether they are representing official University policy.

    2. In their private activities, faculty members should take care to make clear which activities are not a part of their university responsibilities and are not sponsored by the university.

    3. Participation by faculty members in any work or activity outside the university should not infringe on their responsibilities to the university and the students.

    4. The faculty member has the duty of constant effort to insure that the regulations of the university are designed to achieve the university's goals and that they shall be in accord with the principles of academic freedom. Recognizing the importance of order within the institution, faculty members should not encourage acts of destruction or violence on campus. This in no way limits the right to attempt to reform regulations by appropriate means.

  5. Responsibility to the Community

    As members of the larger community, faculty members have the rights and prerogatives, and the obligations and duties of any citizen. These include the right to join political or other associations, to convene and conduct public meetings, and to publicize opinions on political and social issues. In any public discourse, faculty members should take care to make clear when their comments represent personal opinions and when their comments represent official University positions.

Faculty Senate approved, 5/00
President’s Cabinet approved, 9/25/00