Committee on Faculty Ethics
The Committee on Faculty Ethics receives and considers charges of violations of faculty ethics that involve the abuse of professional responsibilities as outlined in the principles of ethical behavior as prescribed in the Faculty Handbook. It is the venue for the examination of possible violations of the standards for research, teaching, and appropriate behavior with colleagues and students that do not cross legal thresholds, such as behavior that is offensive but does not meet the standard for discrimination/harassment. The committee has an investigatory and reporting role.
As appropriate, the Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics receives and considers charges of violations of faculty ethics that abrogate the principles of ethical behavior on Professional Responsibilities and Conduct in the Faculty Statement of Principles of Ethical Behavior. The committee also acts to promote knowledge of and adherence to the principles of ethical behavior.
The Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics is not used to seek remedies such as monetary damages. The Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics does not act when legal, mediation, or other proceedings are initiated or are ongoing by complainants that render the committee’s pursuit of an investigation redundant or disruptive. The Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics does not act on matters that are referred or should be referred for investigation and action to an administrative officer, supervisor, or another appropriately charged committee in accordance with university policies and procedures. Complaints concerning personnel actions taken by a supervisor are handled by the applicable grievance procedure. If ethical issues arise from, or remain unresolved following such proceedings, the Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics is available to receive or consider charges of violations of the principles of “Professional Responsibilities and Conduct.”
The Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics is composed of one faculty member from each college, one from the University Libraries faculty and one from the Extension faculty with continued appointment. The president of the Faculty Senate, with the advice of the senate cabinet, appoints committee members. All members of the Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics hold tenure or continued appointment. The senate president designates one committee member to serve as chair. Voting members of the Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics serve a two-year appointment and are limited to serving two consecutive terms. The quorum of the Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics consists of two-thirds of the appointed members.
While the Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics is not a legal body, conflicts of interest may affect members’ judgment on a given case. All members of the committee are required to disclose any potential conflicts of interest with regard to cases that come before the Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics. Decisions concerning recusal are made by the individual member in consultation with the committee as a whole. In the event of a conflict of interest concerning the chair of the Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics, the chair steps down from that position during the course of any discussion or investigation of that case. In such a situation, the president of the Faculty Senate appoints an interim chair from within the current committee membership. Decisions with regard to the chair’s recusal from the committee itself are made in consultation with the committee and the Faculty Senate president.
Anyone may bring incidents to the Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics by writing to the chair of the committee. The Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics decides if a violation may have occurred and may conduct investigations, as it deems appropriate. The Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics informs those involved of its findings and the processes and rationale by which the findings were formulated as described in the operating procedures of the Faculty Senate Committee on Ethics. When it is determined that a breach of faculty ethics has occurred, the committee’s findings along with its recommendations are reported to appropriate administrative personnel including, when appropriate, the Faculty Senate president. Strict confidentiality is maintained. The Faculty Senate Committee on Faculty Ethics chair annually provides a summary of the committee’s activities to the Faculty Senate.
Members of the Committee on Faculty Ethics are:
- College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Eric Beers
- College of Architecture, Arts, and Design: Vacant
- College of Engineering: Vacant
- College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences: Diane Zahm (Chair)
- College of Natural Resources: Bob Bush
- College of Science: Nicolaus Tideman
- College of Veterinary Medicine: Vacant
- Pamplin College of Business: Vacant
- University Libraries: Ellen Krupar
- Virginia Cooperative Extension Service or Outreach: Elena Serrano
- Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine: Kathryn Bass