The St. Mary’s University Code of Business Conduct (“Code”) describes standards of conduct expected of all staff employees of St. Mary’s University (the “University”) when conducting University business. Although the principles set forth are not designed to govern or address every matter, event, or situation that may arise, staff are expected at all times to adhere to the letter and spirit of this Code, abide by all laws, rules and regulations, and exercise high standards of integrity and sound ethical judgment in all University dealings and in conduct of all University business. Employees whose professional fields call for stricter standards must adhere to the criteria established for their line of work. Members of the Faculty are encouraged to support this code, although their conduct is governed by the Faculty Handbook.
In conducting University business, this Code shall include and apply to immediate family members (spouses, parents, siblings, children, in-laws, and any person living in the same household) of any employee of the University. Although the acts or omissions of these persons may not be easily controlled or influenced, it is the responsibility of each employee to fully disclose any matter that could potentially raise questions or cast doubt regarding legal or ethical conduct of University business.
If any staff employee is found to have violated this Code, or knowingly permitted an employee under his or her supervision to do so, the University will take corrective action up to and including discharge or removal from duty, observing existing policies and procedures of due process.
The conflict of interest section of this Code is the only provision that may be waived. Any waiver of that provision must be approved by the appropriate University Officer and reported within a reasonable time to the Chairman of the University Board of Trustees. No other provisions of this Code may be waived.
University employees are required to comply with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations. Employees also are to avoid any activity that involves or could lead to the involvement of the University, its assets, or its employees in any practice prohibited by law or University policy.
The University reaffirms the principle that its students, faculty and staff have a right to be free from sex discrimination in the form of sexual harassment by any member of the University community. Also, the University does not countenance unlawful discrimination on the grounds of age, gender, religion, creed, race, color, national or ethnic origin, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, status as a past or present member of the uniformed services, or status as an applicant to the uniformed services. Finally, the University will not tolerate retaliation against anyone reporting in good faith discrimination or harassment.
All employees must acquaint themselves with the legal standards and restrictions applicable to their duties and responsibilities and conduct themselves accordingly. Failure to comply with any legal requirement is not only a violation of this Code, but also inconsistent with the University’s commitment to foster responsible citizenship. Because any unlawful act can result in civil damages, criminal penalties, and fines, employees should immediately contact the compliance officer if and when any legal issues or questions arise.
Over and above strictly legal aspects, University employees are expected to observe any additional standards of business and personal ethics specified in this Code or by University policy. Employees must also conduct themselves at all times in a manner that does not harm the University.
All University communications, whether external or internal, shall be accurate, complete, and understandable, and made only by persons authorized to speak on behalf of the University.
The Officers of the University responsible for external communications shall at all times cause full, fair, accurate, timely and understandable disclosure in any public or external communications concerning the University. Only persons specifically assigned the responsibility to communicate on behalf of the University may do so.
University employees should endeavor to deal fairly with the University’s students, donors, agencies, suppliers, employees and others. No employee shall take unfair advantage of anyone through manipulation, concealment, abuse of privileged information, misrepresentation of material facts, or any other unfair-dealing practice.
Employees shall protect all confidential information belonging to the University, its students, donors, suppliers, employees, and others who disclose information to the University on a confidential basis. Any unauthorized use or disclosure of such information is prohibited except where applicable by law.
Much of the information the University develops in research, needs analysis, donor solicitation, as well as other areas is original in nature and its protection is essential to continued success. All University employees shall safeguard such information and disclose it only as permitted by law or University policy. Employees are also expected to respect the property rights of others and fully comply with all laws, rules, and regulations protecting such property rights.
Conflicts of Interest
Employees shall avoid any personal influences or relationships that would affect their ability to act in the best interests of the University. A conflict of interest occurs when an individual’s private interest interferes, or appears to interfere, with the interests of the University. Such conflict of interest can arise when an employee takes actions or has interests that impair his or her ability to perform University work objectively and effectively. Conflicts of interest also may arise when an employee receives improper personal benefits as a result of his or her position with the University.
Employees shall not have any financial or other relationships with suppliers, agencies or competitors that would impair, or appear to impair, the independence of any judgment they may make on behalf of the University.
Gifts, gratuities, entertainment and similar favors may not be accepted if offered, or appear to be offered, as an inducement to perform an act inconsistent with the best interest of the University or if acceptance would place the recipient under an obligation to the provider. Receipt of or payment of kickbacks or bribes by employees in any way related to the performance of their duties for or on behalf of the University is considered a violation of this Code.
Employees must disclose to their immediate supervisor any financial or other relationships with suppliers, agencies or competitors they may have and the reasons they believe such a relationship does not violate this Code. In making such a disclosure, employees must follow this code as well as guidelines contained in the University’s Personnel Manual.
Employees are prohibited from (a) taking for themselves, a family member, friend or acquaintance opportunities that are discovered through the use of University property, information or position; (b) using University property, information, or position for personal gain, and (c) competing with the University.
Employees of the University have an obligation to act in the best interest of the University and render their best services to the University. In this regard, all employees are expected to comply with any University policy concerning other or outside employment.
Employees also may not acquire any ownership of a material interest in any competitor, vendor, customer, client, supplier, contractor, subcontractor, or other entity with which the University does business. This prohibition does not apply to incidental ownership of minimal stock interests pursuant to a mutual fund or other investments.
After such a disclosure is made, the situation will be reviewed by the supervisor and appropriate University Officer and a decision will be made in writing as to whether the disclosed item constitutes a conflict of interest and requires a waiver of the Code, termination of the activity, or disciplinary action. Because of the possibility of severe consequences, employees are encouraged to request pre-clearance on any potential conflicts of interests prior to engaging in the relationship or transaction.
Any situation involving a conflict of interest or appearance of a conflict of interest as described herein must be approved in writing by the appropriate officer or considered a violation of this Code.
Protection and Proper Use of University Property
University employees are charged with safeguarding the University’s assets and property and ensuring their efficient and proper use.
- All University assets shall be used solely for legitimate University purposes. The unauthorized personal use, borrowing, or removal of University property is prohibited. University property shall not be given away, sold or traded without proper authorization.
- Personnel who prepare, maintain or have custody of the University’s records and reports should exert their best efforts to see that these documents are:
- accurate and complete and clearly reflect the assets and transactions of the University;
- safeguarded from loss or destruction;
- retained for specified periods of time in accordance with the University’s document retention requirements, and
- maintained in confidence.
Any financial accounting shall be performed in a manner accepted by the accounting industry and communicated in a readily understandable form to all appropriate parties.
- Political contributions. The direct or indirect use by employees of any funds or other assets of the University for political contributions in any form (whether in cash or other property, services or the use of facilities) is prohibited.
- Gifts and Entertainment. No gifts of substantial value or lavish entertainment shall be offered, furnished, or accepted by anyone. Reasonable entertainment and courtesies may be extended or accepted only if not prohibited by law and then only to the extent that is customary and appropriate and permitted by policy. Before acceptance, all offers of gifts, entertainment and courtesies with a value in excess of $100 must be reported to and approved by the immediate supervisor.
Reporting of Illegal or Unethical Behavior
Employees must report promptly any conduct or omission they suspect violates this Code to the vice president for administration and finance, or any of the individuals or entities designated in the University’s Personnel Manual. The University shall keep all reports confidential to the extent possible and as permitted by law.
The University will not tolerate retaliation against anyone reporting in good faith any suspected violation of this Code. The University also prohibits any officer or employee from discriminating or taking adverse action against another employee who provides information to governmental authorities about actions they reasonably believe to represent misconduct.
All employees are expected to cooperate fully in any investigation by the University or the Audit and Ethics Committee of the Board of Trustees. Any failure or refusal to cooperate in an investigation may result in corrective action, up to and including discharge or removal from duties.