10  Ethics and Code of Conduct

Approved by Board of Trustees
Effective Date: June 5, 2017
Responsible Division: Business and Finance
Responsible Office:  Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management
Responsible Officer:  Assistant Vice President for Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management

I. Purpose

Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU or University) has a fiduciary responsibility to fulfill its overall mission in compliance with applicable policies, laws, regulations, rules, contracts, grants, and donor restrictions. As the University pursues its mission, it is committed to conducting its business in an ethical and law-abiding fashion; it will maintain a business culture that builds and promotes compliance consciousness.

The University is also committed to the core values of honesty, integrity, respect for diversity, engagement in the community, and commitment to non-violence. As part of the University’s core values, employees are expected to promote the best interests of students; treat others with respect and civility; conduct University business with the highest level of ethical standards and integrity; utilize University resources in a manner that avoids waste, fraud, and abuse; and maintain a culturally rich and diverse environment in which to work and learn. This policy sets forth standards of conduct to support these core values and, in so doing, to protect the reputation, credibility, financial well-being, and legal obligations of the University.

II. Scope

This policy applies to all employees of the University to include faculty and staff, whether employed full-time, part-time, or temporarily.

III. Policy

All employees of the University are expected to maintain the highest standards of honesty and integrity in the performance of their employment duties. Accordingly, the following are general standards of conduct related to an employee’s duty to the University.

A.  Employees must comply with Policy 12 Conflict of Interest. Employees must refrain from using their position at the University, or any privileges obtained through employment at the University, in a manner that would unduly influence or result in a personal advantage to the employee or to the employee’s immediate family members. Employees shall not have any personal interest, financial or otherwise, or directly or indirectly engage in a business transaction or professional activity that conflicts with the proper performance and responsibilities of their duties in the course of University employment, or that provides the appearance of such conflict. As provided for in Policy 12 Conflict of Interest, employees must disclose information on the nature and extent of any financial interests in entities that do business with the University.

B.  Employees must comply with Policy 71 Preventing and Reporting Fraud, Waste, and Abuse, and should become familiar with the reporting process.

C.  Employees must comply with Policy 814 Outside Employment, Extra Compensation, and Dual Services Agreements as concerns employment outside of, and in addition to, the employee’s responsibilities at the University.

D.  Employees shall not accept any compensation for their service as University employees from any source other than the University, except as may be otherwise provided in other policies such as Policy 814 Outside Employment, Extra Compensation, and Dual Services Agreements.

E.  An employee shall not disclose the confidential information of the University obtained during the course of his/her employment, except as required by law, statute, a valid subpoena, or request by a government entity for educational or investigatory purposes. An employee shall not use such information for his/her personal gain or benefit. Such confidential information includes, but is not limited to, student educational records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99); pharmacy records, treatment records, medical records, and other protected health information; University business and financial records; and University patents, licenses, inventions, research, or other University intellectual property.

F.  An employee shall not engage in conduct or actions that could provide the appearance or impression that improper influence over him/her could favorably affect the outcome of any University contract, award, rank, position, grant, or University-owned asset.

G.  Employees must comply with Policy 816 Nepotism. An employee may not be in a direct supervisory line with his/her relative, nor may the employee participate in the process of review, recommendation, and/or decision making in any manner concerning hiring, opportunity, promotion, salary, retention, or termination of a relative.  

H.  Professional Values. Employees should demonstrate the following behaviors in carrying out fiscal and other professional transactions by:

1.  According respect to self and others;

2.  Exhibiting commitment to both the University and organizational unit;

3.  Accepting responsibility; and

4.  Striving to enhance one’s own capabilities, and provide the highest quality of performance and counsel.

I.  Employees shall, in the performance of their duties, be accountable for:

1.  Knowing, supporting, and implementing the University’s and functional area's operational plans;

2.  Exercising prudence and integrity in the management of resources in their custody and in all fiscal transactions in which they participate;

3.  Acting in a competent manner and in compliance with applicable policies, laws, regulations, and rules, contracts, grants, and donor restrictions;

4.  Not knowingly being a party to, or condoning, fiscal misconduct;

5.  Reporting fiscal misconduct as required by University policy;

6.  Not knowingly signing, subscribing to, or permitting the issuance of any financial statement or report that contains any material misstatement or that omits any material fact;

7.  Knowing and fulfilling the fiscal responsibilities set forth in University policy;

8.  Preparing or presenting financial information as required by University policies; and

9.  Protecting privileged or confidential information to which they have access by virtue of their position.

J.  Appropriate Use of University Resources

University resources are an important part of the successful delivery of both academic and support services to MTSU’s students and community constituents. All employees of the University are entrusted with the responsibility of preserving University resources, using those resources in a prudent manner for their designated purposes, and are entrusted with fiscal responsibility for their functional area of responsibility. Accordingly, University resources should only be used in furtherance of the University’s mission and operations. Inappropriate use of University resources includes:

1.  Faculty or staff utilizing students or other University employees to advance the faculty or staff member’s personal, monetary, or political interests.

2.  Granting external entities access to University services, information, technology, or resources for personal gain.

K.  Fiscal Code of Conduct

1.  All Banner Finance users, HRBanner users, procurement card (P-Card) users, and other specified employees shall demonstrate their awareness of, and compliance with, the University’s Fiscal Code of Ethics through the acknowledgement process that follows.

2.  Acknowledgment Process. The applicable Fiscal Code of Ethics statement must be signed, as monitored by the responsible party identified in parentheses:

a.  By employees upon signing their letter of offer for employment with the University (the respective department or college);

b.  By individuals requesting access to the University’s Finance System/MTSource as Finance System Users, prior to receiving such access (the appropriate University Finance System Access Security Coordinator);

c.  By individuals requesting access to the University’s HRBanner and by HRBanner users prior to receiving such access (the appropriate University HRBanner Access Security Coordinator);

d.  By individuals asking for authority as a P-Card user, prior to receiving such authority (Procurement Services);

e.  By all the principal investigators, project directors, and everyone associated with a grant, as may be required by the terms of the grant or relevant laws, regulations, or policies; and

f.  By other employees as required by his/her Vice President.

3.  If an individual fails to sign the statement as required, the respective Finance System, HRBanner, or P-Card access will not be provided. If the individual already has access, then the access will be withdrawn. The failure to sign will be reported to the relevant supervisor for appropriate action. Employees who fail to sign as required will be deemed to have failed to meet a condition of their appointment/employment.

IV. Enforcement

Violations of this policy shall be reported to the Assistant Vice President for Human Resource Services and/or to the Office of Audit and Consulting Services for the University. An investigation of the allegations will be conducted and recommendations made concerning such disciplinary action as may be appropriate.

Forms: none.

Revisions: none.

References: Policies 12 Conflict of Interest; 71 Preventing and Reporting Fraud, Waste, and Abuse; 814 Outside Employment, Extra Compensation, and Dual Services Agreements; 816 Nepotism.