Sac State University Policy Manual

Faculty Responsibility and Professional Ethics

Policy Administrator: Vice President for Human Resources
Authority: PM FSA 94-02
Effective Date: May 12, 1994
Updated:May 23, 2011, January 27, 2011
Index Cross-References:
Policy File Number: HRS-0117



The faculty of California State University, Sacramento recognize that education is a public service and a public trust. In this document we affirm our responsibilities to the public, to our students, and to our colleagues. The first section delineates our professional responsibilities; the second section specifies the aspects of these responsibilities that may call professional ethics into question. The "2009 American Association of University Professors Statement on Professional Ethics" was endorsed by the Faculty Senate in December 2010, approved by the President in January 2011, and is included as an addendum.  The link to the AAUP statement is included:  

  1. Primary areas of responsibility

    A. A faculty member must meet all assigned classes as scheduled, unless prior arrangements have been made with the Department Chair. A faculty member must also share the advisement responsibilities of the department, and hold office hours as scheduled. The primary criteria used in scheduling classes, office hours and advising should be based on serving the needs of the students.

    B. For each course, faculty will 1) provide a syllabus and adhere to it, 2) provide timely and relevant feedback to students on their performance, and 3) abide by existing campus policies, such as the campus calendar that provides for final examinations to be given during, not prior to, the sixteenth week of each semester.

    C. It is expected that faculty will regularly attend department meetings, and will, over the course of a career, provide significant service to a number of department, school and/or university committees to which they have been elected or appointed.

    D. Faculty are expected to remain current in their fields, as evidenced by such endeavors as research, creative/scholarly activity, curriculum development, participation in the professional life of their disciplines, dissemination of the results of research and scholarly activities, and performance in creative endeavors.

    E. Faculty membership presumes service in the life of the society of which the University is a part. Discharge of these responsibilities may be evidenced by such activities as providing assistance to pre-college educational institutions and to other community organizations, serving as an officer in professional groups, or other service that draws on the faculty's professional expertise.

    F. Membership on the tenured or probationary faculty is a full-time position. (Article 35 of the faculty bargaining agreement specifies regulations governing outside employment.) Meeting the responsibilities involved in being a full-time faculty member requires that the major portion of the faculty member's time and energies will be devoted to University work.

    II. At times a faculty member may need to make a choice that could cause his/her professional ethics to be called into question. It is the responsibility of the University to inform faculty of this policy. Allegations of breach of professional ethics once brought to the attention of the responsible University administrator will be investigated.

    Listed below are some examples of situations in which the choice made by a faculty member could make him/her vulnerable to the accusation that he/she has committed a breach of professional ethics.

    1. Making or participating in decisions regarding other members of the campus community with whom there is an intimate relationship or when there is unresolved conflict regarding scholarly, pedagogical or other matters between the faculty member and the other individual. Such decisions may include but are not limited to:

    - Evaluating or influencing the evaluation of performance;

    - Assigning or influencing the assignment of work, including faculty teaching loads, schedules, staff responsibilities, and student assignments

    - Awarding compensating time off to staff or "assigned time" to faculty;

    - Distributing professional development funds, including travel money.

    2. Establishing a significant financial or contractual obligation with another member of the campus community when the possibility exists that one member may have influence over the other's evaluation or hiring.

    3. Choosing whom to credit for significant contributions to one's research/scholarly activity.

    4. Revealing confidential, sensitive or negative information regarding any member of the campus community.

    A member of the faculty who is found, after an investigation, to be in violation of the tenets of professional ethics or not to have met their professional responsibilities is subject to an oral or written reprimand, and/or the appropriate disciplinary action as described in the Agreement Between the Board of Trustees of the California State University and the California Faculty Association, Unit 3--Faculty.


2009 American Association of University Professor
Statement on Professional Ethics

  1. Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it. To this end professors devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty. Although professors may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry.

  2. As teachers, professors encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. They hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline. Professors demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors. Professors make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to ensure that their evaluations of students reflect each student’s true merit. They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student. They avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students. They acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from them. They protect their academic freedom.

  3. As colleagues, professors have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. Professors do not discriminate against or harass colleagues. They respect and defend the free inquiry of associates, even when it leads to findings and conclusions that differ from their own. Professors acknowledge academic debt and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues. Professors accept their share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of their institution.

  4. As members of an academic institution, professors seek above all to be effective teachers and scholars. Although professors observe the stated regulations of the institution, provided the regulations do not contravene academic freedom, they maintain their right to criticize and seek revision. Professors give due regard to their paramount responsibilities within their institution in determining the amount and character of work done outside it. When considering the interruption or termination of their service, professors recognize the effect of their decision upon the program of the institution and give due notice of their intentions.

  5. As members of their community, professors have the rights and obligations of other citizens. Professors measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of their responsibilities to their subject, to their students, to their profession, and to their institution. When they speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university. As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, professors have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.


Approved:  Alexander Gonzalez, President                                             

Date:          August 8, 2011