1. Introduction and Application.
This Code of Conduct is adopted in accordance with SBHE Policy 308.1 and applies to all Valley City State University employees. The State Board of Higher Education, NDUS and VCSU are committed to uphold the highest ethical and professional standards. All VCSU officers and employees must, at all times, comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Activities that achieve results unlawfully or by unethical behavior - including, but not limited to, payments for illegal acts, indirect contributions, rebates, and bribery - are not tolerated and must be reported. All conduct must meet or exceed minimum standards established by law. Officers or employees who have information concerning a possible violation of this Code or are uncertain about application or interpretation of any legal requirement should report the matter to their supervisor or, if the matter involves a supervisor, to the Vice President for Business Affairs, President or NDUS legal counsel. Officers or employees to whom such reports are made should consult legal counsel as necessary or appropriate.
2. General Employee Conduct.
Valley City State University supports an environment that is free of discrimination or harassment. All officers and employees are expected to conduct themselves in a businesslike manner. Unlawful consumption of alcoholic beverages or use of illegal drugs, being at work while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, disruptive behavior, unlawful gambling, unauthorized use of public property or resources and other unauthorized activities that disrupt the efficient and economical administration of VCSU, are prohibited. Violation of applicable laws or policies governing possession and use of alcoholic beverages or drugs, including the Drug Free Workplace Act, SBHE Policy 615 or applicable institution policies, is cause for dismissal or other discipline. Likewise, sexual or other harassment (including actions contributing to a hostile work environment) in violation of federal or state law, SBHE Policy 603.1 or applicable institutional policy, is cause for dismissal or other discipline.
3. Conflicts of Interest.
All officers and employees are expected to perform their duties conscientiously, honestly, and in accordance with the best interests of VCSU. Officers and employees must comply with applicable federal and state laws, including policies in Section 611 of the SBHE Policy Manual. Officers and employees may not unlawfully use their position or the knowledge gained as a result of their position for private or personal advantage. All officers and employees are responsible for their own actions. Any individual who has concerns or questions regarding a perceived or potential conflict or regarding application or interpretation of federal or state law or SBHE policy is encouraged to communicate with a supervisor or NDUS legal counsel.
4. Outside Activities and Employment.
All officers and employees share responsibility for good public relations, especially at the community level. Their readiness to help with charitable, educational, and civic activities brings credit to VCSU and the NDUS and is encouraged. However, officers and employees must comply with applicable federal and state laws, policies in Section 611 of the SBHE Manual and related institutional polices. At all times, employees must avoid outside activities that create an excessive demand upon their time and attention, thus depriving VCSU of their best efforts in fulfilling their job duties or that create a conflict of interest, or an obligation, interest, or distraction, that interferes with the independent exercise of judgment in VCSU's best interest.
5. Relationships With Clients and Suppliers; Conflicts of Interest.
Officers and employees must comply with applicable federal and state laws and SBHE Policy 611.4 and are responsible for being familiar with applicable laws and policies governing conflicts of interest. They should avoid investing in or acquiring a financial interest for their own accounts in any business organization that has a contractual relationship with VCSU, or that provides goods or services to VCSU, if such investment or interest could influence or create the impression of influencing their decisions in the performance of their duties.
6. Gifts, Entertainment and Favors; Kickbacks and Secret Commissions.
Excluding only de minimis contributions, such as purchase of a meal at reasonable value as part of a conference or other event with no conditions attached to such purchase and as permitted under applicable federal and state laws, officers and employees may not accept entertainment, gifts, or personal favors that could influence, or appear to influence, decisions in favor of any person or organization with whom or with which VCSU has, or is likely to have, business dealings. Similarly, officers and employees may not accept any other preferential treatment under circumstances that because of their position with VCSU, the preferential treatment may influence or be perceived as influencing their official conduct. Officers and employees may not receive payment or compensation of any kind from any source for VCSU duties and responsibilities, except as authorized under NDUS and VCSU pay policies. Specifically, the acceptance of "kickbacks" or commissions in any form from vendors, suppliers or others is prohibited and any violation of this prohibition shall be cause for dismissal and result in referral for prosecution under the law.
7. VCSU Funds and Other Assets.
VCSU shall adopt and enforce strict standards to prevent fraud and dishonesty. Officers and employees who have access to VCSU funds and other assets in any form must follow the prescribed procedures for recording, handling, and protecting money and other assets as detailed in applicable VCSU procedure manuals or other explanatory materials. Any person who has information concerning possible fraud or dishonesty shall immediately report such information to a supervisor, fraud hotline or to legal counsel.
Officers and employees responsible for spending or approving expenditure of VCSU funds or incurring any reimbursable expenses must comply with all applicable laws and policies and use good judgment on behalf of VCSU to ensure that good value is received for every expenditure. VCSU funds and all other assets are for VCSU purposes only and not for personal use or benefit. VCSU or other public equipment, supplies and other property or assets may not be used for private or personal use, except as authorized under SBHE Policy 611.5 or other applicable law or policy.
8. VCSU Records and Communications.
Accurate and reliable records of many kinds are necessary to meet VCSU legal and financial obligations and to manage the affairs of VCSU. VCSU books and records must reflect in an accurate and timely manner all business transactions. The employees responsible for accounting and recordkeeping must fully disclose and record all assets and liabilities and exercise diligence in enforcing these requirements.
Employees must not make or engage in any false record or communication of any kind, whether internal or external, including, but not limited to, false expense, attendance, enrollment, financial, or similar reports and statements, or false advertising, deceptive marketing practices, or other misleading representations.
9. Dealing with Outside People and Organizations.
Officers and employees must take care to separate their personal roles from their VCSU positions when communicating on matters not involving VCSU business. They may not use VCSU identification, stationery, supplies, and equipment for personal or political matters. When communicating publicly on matters that involve VCSU business, Officers and employees may not represent that they speak for VCSU, unless that is one of their duties or they are otherwise authorized to do so. When dealing with anyone outside VCSU, including public officials, officers and employees must take care not to compromise the integrity or damage the reputation of VCSU.
10. Prompt communications.
In all matters involving communication with VCSU students, customers, suppliers, government authorities, the public and others, officers and employees must endeavor to make complete, accurate, and timely communications and respond promptly and courteously to all proper requests for information and complaints.
11. Privacy, Confidentiality and Open Records.
Officers and employees must at all times comply with applicable laws, regulations and SBHE policies concerning privacy, confidential records, access to open records and records retention.
12. Reporting Suspected Violations; Procedures for Investigating Reports.
Officers and employees shall report suspected violations of this Code to their supervisor, Vice President for Business Affairs, President or NDUS legal counsel. In addition, VCSU maintains a fraud hotline and suspected violations may be reported by use of that hotline. Any officer or employee who makes a report in good faith shall be protected against retaliation of any kind; any officer or employee who retaliates or attempts retaliation in response to a good faith report shall be subject to dismissal or other discipline. Failure to report known or suspected violations is in itself a violation and may lead to dismissal or other disciplinary action.
Alleged violations of this Code shall be investigated by the Vice President for Business Affairs and/or NDUS legal counsel, or other officer designated by the President. All officers and employees shall cooperate in investigations of alleged violations. A violation of this Code is cause for dismissal or other appropriate disciplinary action, in addition to any criminal or other civil sanctions that apply.
New employees are required to review the Code of Conduct and sign a statement certifying the employee has read and agrees to comply with the Code. Further, all benefitted employees are required to annually certify in writing or electronically that they have read and are in compliance with the Code of Conduct.
Sponsor: Vice President for Business Affairs
Effective: May 2010
Revised: December 2010
Revised: February 2011