Code of Ethical Conduct
A. Scope and Purpose
The University System of New Hampshire encourages and expects all member of the community to conduct themselves according to the highest ethical standards. The Code of Ethical Conduct applies to all University System of New Hampshire trustees, executive officers, and staff (collectively, the “Covered Parties”). It is not intended to replace, and may be supplemented by, specific policies that have been adopted in the past and that may be adopted in the future. This Code may be amended or supplemented from time to time by the Board of Trustees, or the Governance Committees of the Board.
The University System of New Hampshire values integrity, honesty, openness, and transparency in all dealings. In this spirit, this Code is a shared statement of our commitment to uphold the ethical, professional and legal standards we use as the basis for our daily and long-term decisions and actions.
Given the variety and complexity of ethical questions that may arise in the course of carrying out the University System’s business, this Code can serve only as a general guide. Confronted with ethically ambiguous situations, Covered Persons should keep in mind the University System’s commitment to the highest ethical standards and seek advice from appropriate sources so as to ensure that this commitment is honored at all times.
B. In General (BOT III.K.1.2 & USY V.D.12)
This Code of Ethical Conduct has been adopted by the Board of Trustees and is to be administered by the Administrative Board. In general, matters arising under this Code involving University trustees and officers are subject to the review of the Audit Committee. Every person working for USNH - including faculty, staff, and volunteers has a basic responsibility to cooperate in complaint and grievance procedures, including investigations, in an ethical and professional manner.
C. Conflict of Interest (BOT III.I.1-2 & USY V.D.7)
Trustees, officers, faculty, and staff of USNH serve the public trust and are required to fulfill their responsibilities with care and loyalty. All decisions and actions of the board are to be made for the sole purpose of advancing the best interests of the institutions and the public good. The integrity of USNH must be protected at all times, and the fiduciary relationship of trustees, officers, faculty, and staff of USNH must be respected in both actuality and appearance. A conflict of interest exists when a trustee's direct or indirect personal interests are inconsistent with or interfere in any way with the best interests of USNH. Faculty and staff members must be sensitive to the potential for conflict of interest in professional activities. The fact that the USNH is a public institution must always be kept in mind.
D. Corporate Opportunities (USY V.D.7.13)
As part of its mission of public education, USNH becomes involved in activities that may be competitive in nature. In areas where USNH is providing goods or services, faculty, staff members, and administrators are prohibited from appropriating business opportunities from USNH. No Covered Party may use USNH property, information, or position for improper personal gain, and no staff person may directly or indirectly compete with the University.
E. Harassment and Discrimination (BOT Bylaws, Article VII)
All faculty, staff and students have a right to learn and work in a safe environment free of discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment. The intent of this policy is to foster behavior that results in a learning and working environment free of discrimination and harassment.
The policy of the Board of Trustees prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical or mental disability, marital status, veteran's status, political orientation and/or activity as long as any such status or activity is lawful and is not detrimental to any student, faculty member, staff person or the interests of any of our academic institutions. This policy shall apply in the acceptance of students; the recruitment and employment of faculty and staff; the awarding of grants, scholarships and other funds; in the acceptance of grants and donations; and in the operation of all courses, programs and services.
Covered Parties must maintain the confidentiality of confidential information entrusted to them, except when disclosure is authorized by an appropriate officer of USNH or required by law. Confidential information includes all non-public information that might be of use to competitors or other third parties or harmful to USNH or its constituencies if disclosed; it also includes information that third parties have entrusted to USNH. The obligation to preserve confidential information continues even after employment ends.
G. Protection and Proper Use of University Assets (BOT VI.F.1)
The property of the University System (including land, buildings, structures, other facilities, equipment, supplies, and materials) shall be operated and maintained in a prudent manner, and with reasonable care, so that the property may be safely and efficiently applied to the pursuit of the University System's educational and other missions. Any suspected incident of fraud or theft should be immediately reported for investigation. University facilities and equipment should not be used for non-University business, although incidental personal use may be permitted.
The obligation of Covered Parties to protect USNH’s assets includes, but is not limited to, its proprietary information. Proprietary information includes intellectual property such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights, as well as business plans, databases, records, employment information, and any unpublished financial data and reports. Unauthorized use or distribution of this information violates USNH policy and may also be illegal and result in criminal and/or civil liability.
H. Compliance with Laws, Rules, and Regulations
Following the law, both in letter and in spirit, and doing the right thing, are the foundations on which USNH’s ethical standards rest. In carrying out our official responsibilities, or otherwise conducting business or activities associated with USNH, we are all expected to comply with applicable laws, regulations, and USNH policies. Guidance from a designated USNH office, department, or supervisor should be sought wherever there is a question regarding lawful or ethical behavior and practices, and/or legal or other compliance matters.
I. Timely and Truthful Public Disclosures (BOT III.K.1.3.5)
Covered Parties involved in the preparation of financial and other reports and documents (and information included therein) filed with or submitted to federal, state, and local authorities by USNH are required to make disclosures that are full, fair, accurate, timely, and understandable. No intentionally false or artificial entries shall be made into any official USNH records or documentation, including, but not limited to, entries into the financial accounting system, the human resources information system, and the student information system.
J. Significant Accounting Deficiencies
The Presidents, the Chancellor, the Senior Vice Presidents, CFOs, and Treasurer should promptly bring to the attention of the Audit Committee any information he or she may have concerning (a) significant deficiencies in the design or operation of internal controls over financial reporting which could adversely affect USNH’s ability to record, process, summarize, and report financial data or (b) any fraud, whether or not material, that involves management or other staff who have a significant role in USNH’s financial reporting, disclosures, or internal control over financial reporting.
K. Reporting Known or Suspected Violations (BOT III.K.2.1 – 2.2 & Ethics Hotline)
USNH's ability to maintain the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct depends in large part on the willingness of each individual to report potential, perceived, or suspected instances of internal or external fraud. University trustees and officers are required to report promptly any known or suspected violations of this Code to the Chairman of the Audit Committee. USNH staff and volunteers are encouraged to make such reports to their immediate supervisor but my also report to more senior management, the Director of Internal Audit Office, the Controller, the General Counsel, or to an anonymous USNH Ethics and Compliance Hotline at 1-844-592-8455, http://usnh.ethicspoint.com. USNH staff and volunteers are encouraged to make such reports to their immediate supervisor but may also report to more senior management, the Director of Internal Audit Office, the Controller, the General Counsel, or to an anonymous USNH–designated hot line. Any person who receives a report shall in turn inform the Director of Internal Audit. No retaliation action of any kind will be permitted against anyone making such a report in good faith.
L. Accountability for Violations
Violations of the standards of ethical conduct expected of Covered Parties places USNH and its mission at risk, and therefore may result in disciplinary consequences up to and including termination.
All Covered Parties must work together to ensure prompt and consistent enforcement of this Code of Ethical Conduct. In some situations, it may be difficult to know if a violation has occurred. Because it is impossible to anticipate every situation that will arise, it is important to be able to approach a new question or problem with confidence. Trustee and officers having questions about their obligations under this Code or any other USNH policy should consult General Counsel for further guidance; all other should consult their supervisors.