The University of Iowa

Professional Ethics & Academic Responsibilities

General Principles

Per the Operations Manual, III-15.1:

The basic functions of the University are the advancement and dissemination of knowledge, the development of critical intelligence, and the education 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 he or she is free to pursue the quest for knowledge and understanding, wherever it may lead, and to report and discuss the findings, whatever they may be, the University faculty member cannot properly perform his or her work. As a participant in an enterprise that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, the faculty member has a special interest in promoting conditions of free inquiry and furthering public understanding of academic freedom.

Freedom entails responsibilities. It is incumbent upon the faculty member to accept the responsibilities which are concomitant with the freedom he or she needs.

Those responsibilities are (1) to students, (2) to scholarship, (3) to colleagues, (4) to the University, and (5) to the larger community which the University serves. To make these responsibilities operational, it is necessary that ethical and professional standards be adopted to guide faculty members in their conduct and that effective mechanisms be established to monitor and enforce compliance with these standards.

Responsibilities to Students

Per the Operations Manual, III-15.2:

As a teacher, the faculty member has the responsibility for creating in his or her classroom or laboratory a climate that encourages the student to learn. The faculty member should exemplify high scholarly standards and respect and foster the student's right to choose and pursue his or her own educational goals.

(a) The faculty member must make clear the objectives of the course or program, establish requirements, set standards of achievement, and evaluate the student's performance.

(b) The faculty member has the responsibility to meet classes as scheduled and, when circumstances prevent this, to arrange equivalent alternate instruction.

(c) The faculty member has the responsibility to teach courses in a manner that is consistent with the course description and credit published in the catalogue and with the announced objectives of the course. He or she must not intentionally interject into classes material or personal views that have no pedagogical relationship to the subject matter of the course.

(d) In order to facilitate student learning, faculty members should present the appropriate context for course content. While challenge is essential to good teaching, challenge is ordinarily most effective when students are adequately prepared to deal with course materials. On controversial issues within the scope of the course a reasonable range of opinion should be presented. When the faculty member presents his or her own views on such issues, they should always be identified as such. Wherever values, judgments, or speculative opinions constitute part of the subject matter, they should be identified as such and should not be offered as fact.

(e) The faculty member owes to the student and the University a fair and impartial evaluation of the student's work. Such evaluation should be consistent with recognized standards and must not be influenced by irrelevancies such as religion, race, sex, or political views, or be based on the student's agreement with the teacher's opinion pertaining to matters of controversy within the discipline.

(f) Every student is entitled to the same intellectual freedom which the faculty member enjoys. The faculty member must respect that freedom. Restraint must not be imposed upon the student's search for or consideration of diverse or contrary opinion. More positively, the faculty member has an obligation to protect the student's freedom to learn, especially when that freedom is threatened by repressive or disruptive action.

The classroom must remain a place where free and open discussion of all content and issues relevant to a course can take place. While students remain responsible for learning class material and completion of course requirements, faculty should respect reasonable decisions by students, based on their exercise of their own intellectual freedom, to not attend part or all of a particular class session.

(g) The faculty member has obligations as an intellectual guide and counselor to students. He or she has a responsibility to be available to students for private conferences. In advising students, every reasonable effort should be made to see that information given to them is accurate. The progress of students in achieving their academic goals should not be thwarted or retarded unreasonably because a faculty member has neglected his or her obligation as adviser and counselor.

(h) The faculty member should conduct himself or herself at all times so as to demonstrate respect for the student. He or she should always respect the confidence deriving from the faculty-student relationship.

(i) The faculty member must avoid exploitation of students for personal advantage. For example, in writings and oral presentations due acknowledgment of their contributions to the work should be made.

Responsibilities to Faculty & Staff Colleagues

Per the Operations Manual, III-15.4:

As a colleague, the faculty member has obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. He or she respects and defends the free inquiry of associates and avoids interference with their work. In the exchange of criticism and ideas, he or she shows due respect for the rights of others to their opinions. He or she refrains from personal vilification and acknowledges contributions of others to his or her work. When asked to evaluate the professional performance of a colleague, the faculty member strives to be objective.

Responsibilities to Institution

Per the Operations Manual, III-15.5:

The faculty member's primary responsibility to his or her institution is to seek to realize his or her maximum potential as an effective scholar and teacher. In addition, the faculty member has a responsibility to participate in the day-to-day operation of the University. Among the faculty member's general responsibilities to the University, the following may be particularly noted: 

(a) When a faculty member acts or speaks as a private person, he or she should make clear that his or her actions and utterances are entirely his or her own and not those of the University. 

(b) The faculty member must never attempt to exploit his or her standing within the University for private or personal gain. The faculty member may, on appropriate occasions, cite his or her connection with the University, but only for purposes of personal identification. The faculty member must not permit the impression to prevail that the University in any way sponsors any of his or her activities. 

(c) University facilities, equipment, supplies, and other properties must never be used for personal or private business. 

(d) A faculty member has the duty to ensure that the regulations of the University are designed to achieve the University's goals as well as being in accord with the principles of academic freedom. Recognizing the importance of order within the institution, the faculty member observes the regulations of the University, but in no way abdicates his or her right to attempt to reform those regulations by any appropriate orderly means. 

(e) Effective faculty participation in the governance of the University promotes academic freedom and the goals of the institution. Each faculty member should take part in his or her institution's decision-making processes to the best of his or her ability and should accept a fair share of the faculty's responsibility for its day-to-day operation. 

(f) During periods of disturbance or high tension on campus, a faculty member should take reasonable steps to prevent acts of violence and to reduce tension. 

(g) Subject to the requirements of this statement and other institutional regulations, a faculty member determines the amount and character of the work and other outside activities he or she pursues with due regard to his or her paramount responsibilities within the University and primary loyalties to it.

Responsibilities to the Community

Per the Operations Manual III-15.6

As a member of the community, the faculty member has the rights and obligations of any citizen. These include the right to organize and join political or other associations, convene and conduct public meetings and publicize his or her opinion on political and social issues. However, in exercising these rights, the faculty member must make it clear that he or she does not speak for the University, but simply as an individual. The faculty member does not use the classroom to solicit support for personal views and opinions. 

Because academic freedom has traditionally included the faculty member's full freedom as a citizen, most faculty members face no insoluble conflicts between the claims of politics, social action, and conscience, on the one hand, and the claims and expectations of their students, colleagues, and institutions on the other. If such conflicts become acute, and the faculty member's attention to his or her obligations as a citizen and moral agent precludes the fulfillment of substantial academic obligations, the responsibility of that choice cannot be escaped, but the faculty member should either request a leave of absence or resign his or her academic position.