University of Kansas Code of Ethical Conduct


This Code of Ethical Conduct applies to all employees at all campuses of the University of Kansas.


The Code of Ethical Conduct affirms the University of Kansas’ commitment to the highest standards of ethical, legal, and professional behavior. This Code also recognizes the importance of adhering to federal, state, and local laws and regulations and Kansas Board of Regents and University policies. Ultimately, the Code of Ethical Conduct reflects our individual and collective commitment to the fulfillment of the University’s Core Institutional Values.

Core Institutional Values:  

The University of Kansas is committed to upholding our core institutional values, including:

§ 1 – Integrity;

§ 2 – Excellence in the pursuit of our mission;

§ 3 – Advancement and innovation in the pursuit of responsible research and instruction;

§ 4 – Academic freedom, freedom of expression, and respectful and transparent communication;

§ 5 – Diversity, equity, and inclusion;

§ 6 – Safety, security, and sustainability; and

§ 7 – Service and stewardship.


Ethical Conduct Principles:  

§ 1 — Integrity

The University is fully committed to integrity in everything we do. All members of our University community are expected to fulfill ethical and other professional standards at all times. Additionally, we abide by federal, state, and local laws and other regulations, fulfill all agreements, and honor policies set by the Kansas Board of Regents, accrediting bodies, and the University.

The University is committed to providing an environment of integrity that encourages the disclosure of violations of law, policy, and other standards to the University administration, while protecting from reprisal all employees and other members of the community who make a good-faith disclosure of suspected wrongful conduct occurring at the University. As members of our University community, we are mindful of the obligation to report suspected wrongdoing that adversely affects the University or any member of the University community.

All employees are accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities and for conducting themselves ethically, honestly, and in good faith. We are responsible to each other, the University, and all those we serve, both for our actions and our decisions not to act. Each individual is expected to exercise sound judgment and serve the best interests of the institution and the community.

The University seeks to maintain a climate that allows for our best selves to engage in the work of learning, research, and service while promoting the wellbeing of our campus and greater communities. When anyone behaves in ways counter to that climate, we owe it to ourselves and each other to address it.

We all share the responsibility for promoting a positive and productive environment for the entire KU community.

§ 2 — Excellence in the pursuit of our mission

As a major comprehensive research and teaching university that serves as a center for learning, scholarship, and creative endeavor, our mission is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world.

In pursuit of this mission, each member of the University is committed to:

  • Developing and supporting a valued and respected workforce by fostering intellectual growth and   professional development and promoting a healthy, innovative, and productive environment that encourages   the exchange of ideas;
  • Anticipating and achieving meaningful change and continuous improvement;
  • Building, nurturing, and sustaining meaningful relationships with all communities and partners; and
  • Attracting and retaining highly qualified educators, researchers, staff, and learners.

Our pursuit of excellence in this mission is reflected by achievements such as our membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU), as well as the Medical Center’s recognition by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

§ 3 — Advancement and innovation in the pursuit of responsible research and instruction

The University strives to attain high levels of research productivity and recognizes that faculty are part of a network of scholars and academicians that shape a discipline as well as teach it. Research and teaching, as practiced at the University, are mutually reinforcing with scholarly inquiry underlying and informing the educational experience at undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels.

The University is committed to offering the highest quality undergraduate and graduate programs. As the AAU research university of the state, the University offers a broad array of advanced graduate study programs and fulfills its mission through faculty, academic, instructional, and research programs of international distinction, and outstanding libraries, museums, and information technology. These resources enrich the undergraduate experience and are essential for graduate level education and for research.

The University encourages the pursuit of learning and research among its members. University members are expected to:

  • Model the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline;
  • Learn, follow, and demonstrate accountability for meeting and ensuring compliance with the requirements of   sponsors, regulatory bodies, and other applicable entities;
  • Faithfully describe and transmit research data and findings;
  • Protect rights of individual and University intellectual property;
  • Foster and promote honest pursuit of knowledge;
  • Assess work product and provide feedback for a true reflection of the merit of each individual’s work;
  • Ensure originality of work, provide credit for the ideas of others upon which their work is built, and be   responsible for the accuracy and fairness of information published;
  • Fairly assign authorship credit on the basis of an appropriate array of significant intellectual contributions,   including conception, design, and performance; analysis and interpretation; and manuscript preparation and   critical editing for intellectual content; and
  • Engage in responsible research and scholarship.

Responsible Research

Integrity in the research process is fundamental to the advancement of knowledge, science, health care, and medicine. The University strives to create a research environment that espouses honesty and integrity, not only because regulatory agencies, journal editors, and the public expect it, but because it is the right thing to do. Individuals conducting research must act at all times with appropriate regard for the protection of human participants and the welfare of animal subjects. University members engaging in research must not fabricate or falsify research data or results or plagiarize another's work. Researchers are also expected to demonstrate accountability for sponsors’ funds and to comply with specific terms and conditions of contracts and grants.

Conflicts of Interest and Commitment

The University encourages innovation by faculty and staff to fulfill our mission of delivering new knowledge and technologies for public benefit. Oversight of conflicts of interest and commitment contributes to our dedication to scientific objectivity and to the safety of research volunteers as we develop potentially profitable discoveries.

We further the goal of objectivity by:

  • Complying with University requirements to timely disclose potential conflicts of interest and cooperate with   any oversight decision to manage or eliminate any conflicts of interest;
  • Ensuring personal relationships do not interfere with objective judgment in decisions affecting University   employment or the academic progress of any University learners;
  • Recognizing and maintaining that University responsibilities must receive a University employee’s full effort,   attention, and commitment; and
  • Making sure that relations with vendors or sponsors are free from any real or perceived impropriety or   favoritism.


Good teaching requires continual application and effort. Faculty who teach are expected to keep abreast of new developments in their fields and must maintain credentials as scholars so that they are part of the creative process by which the frontiers of knowledge and culture are continually being expanded.

§ 4 — Academic freedom, freedom of expression, and respectful and transparent communication

As an educational institution, the University is stronger when we engage with one another, when we show respect to one another, and when we work hard to develop empathy toward one another. Our University strives to be a place of intellectual inquiry and mutual respect.

The University values academic freedom in relation to teaching, scholarship, and research; likewise, all faculty bear the obligation to exercise their academic freedom responsibly and in accordance with the accepted standards of their academic disciplines.

The University has a long tradition of dedication to the principles of academic freedom, which includes without limitation:

  • Promoting academic freedom, including the freedom to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom;
  • Exploring all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression;
  • Meeting academic responsibilities to seek and state the truth;
  • Developing and maintaining scholarly competence;
  • Fostering and defending intellectual honesty, and freedom of inquiry and instruction;
  • Showing respect for those with differing views and allowing others to express their views; and
  • Communicating as a public citizen without institutional restraint or discipline, while acknowledging that one      is not speaking for the institution.

We know that diversity of thought makes us stronger as an institution and as a society. The First Amendment empowers us all to share our thoughts, beliefs, and differing experiences, but it cannot guarantee civility in that engagement, and our desire for civility and respect cannot be used as the basis to silence lawful expression.

A fundamental purpose of an institution of higher education is to provide an environment where divergent ideas, opinions, and philosophies can be rigorously debated and critically evaluated by our students, which includes ideas and opinions others may disagree with or even find offensive.  The very process of debating divergent ideas and challenging others' opinions develops the intellectual skills necessary to think critically and respectfully argue through civil discourse. The development of these important skills leads to personal and scholarly growth and is an essential component of the academic and research missions of the University. It is equally important that we, as a governmental entity, not stifle the lawful dissemination of ideas, even if some members of our community find those ideas abhorrent.

We must always be a place where all members can meaningfully connect, discuss challenging issues, develop well-considered opinions and perspectives and, as is so often necessary, agree to disagree. The University recognizes that the free exchange of ideas is fundamental to the scholarly process. The professionalism of our discourse is an individual and collective responsibility of all University employees.

§ 5 — Diversity, equity, and inclusion

The University is committed to creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive learning and working environment that is representative of our nation and global society, accepts and values everyone, appreciates our common humanity, and understands that our multiple differences are the cornerstone of academic preparation, professional excellence, and institutional distinction.


The University recognizes that the cultural, racial, ethnic, religious, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and other diversity of our campus community is critical to the excellence of our research and academic programs. We encourage a community that embodies a variety of experiences, expertise, and viewpoints, as well as recognizes the intersectionality of individual identities.


The University embraces the complexities of our multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural histories and experiences, and we recognize the existence of inequalities and privileges generated by historical and persistent intersecting differences by race, ethnicity, sex, gender identities, gender expressions, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, education level, age, disability, religion, regional background, veteran status, citizenship status, and nationality. The University seeks to provide safe, accessible, and welcoming academic and workplace environments in which all individuals can participate to the full extent of their capabilities, realize their aspirations, and best contribute their talents.


The University is dedicated to creating a culture in which the inherent worth and dignity of all persons are recognized and community members are meaningfully engaged in contributing their talents, worldviews, experiences, cultures, and skills in the pursuit of the University’s mission. By embracing and valuing the diverse and unique attributes of all our members, the University can thrive on a foundation of collaboration, innovation, and inclusive excellence.

Ultimately, we strive to reach a level of engagement in which every member of the University community belongs and can actively participate in University life.

§ 6 — Safety, security, and sustainability

The University is committed to health, safety, and security in a sustainable manner that enhances the quality of education, research, and public service. In particular, we seek to foster and promote a culture of wellness throughout the University. This commitment is a shared responsibility that goes beyond compliance with safety standards and regulations. Each of us has a critical role in protecting our individual and collective wellness.


We strive to protect all members of, and visitors to, our campuses by developing a culture of safety in all respects, including:

  • Creating an environment that encourages the reporting of and fosters swift response to allegations of sexual   violence and other threatening behavior;
  • Recognizing the importance of adhering to appropriate standards for safety and occupational health of our   students, faculty, staff, and visitors and of the community around us;
  • Incorporating safety as an integral aspect of all operations, including experimental design and execution,   facility construction, operations and maintenance, equipment operation, and evaluation of performance;
  • Providing students and employees with personal and general safety education;
  • Establishing an environment where individuals are able to recognize and to report errors and “near misses”   without fear of reprimand or punishment while still holding individuals responsible for actions that endanger   the health and safety of others;
  • Providing appropriate and timely information in response to questions or concerns about environmental,   health, and safety issues;
  • Identifying safety issues and implementing solutions to them;
  • Investigating incidents, disseminating lessons learned from such events, and improving programs, as   appropriate, to incorporate improvements; and
  • Creating an environment of collaboration among all stakeholders, including principal investigators,   researchers, safety specialists, students, staff from facilities, and public safety, to identify and implement   solutions for safety issues.

As University employees, we all share the responsibility for prioritizing safety and promoting a positive, productive, inclusive environment for the entire community.

Information Security

The University’s commitment to security extends beyond physical and personal safety and wellbeing, as provided in this and prior sections. We also strive to provide a safe and secure computing environment for research, teaching, learning, and the everyday conduct of University business. That said, protecting sensitive information at the University requires responsible conduct by all members of the University community.

University community members receive and generate various types of confidential, regulated, proprietary, and private information on behalf of the University. It is essential that we remain mindful of the data we collect, generate, and retain.

Members of the university should take proactive steps to protect the data with which they are entrusted. It is expected that University business be conducted on University-controlled IT resources in order to protect all assets.


The University empowers a sustainable campus community through planning, partnerships, education, and service. We support a campus community working to protect natural ecosystems, create economic prosperity, and treat all people with equity and respect.

Sustainability extends beyond environmental concerns and is generally defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. While sustainability does involve using our natural resources wisely and protecting, enhancing, and mimicking the natural systems that support our planet, it also requires that we do these things in a way that both promotes economic prosperity and ensures that all members of society are treated with equity and respect.

Overall, sustainability is about building healthy, resilient communities where everyone has access to the resources needed to achieve a high quality of life without exceeding the capacity of our natural ecosystems.

§ 7 — Service and stewardship

The University prioritizes and takes pride in its mission of service as a public research university. We must always act to promote the wellbeing of the institution as a whole as well as the wellbeing of our students, colleagues, and other constituents. In everything we do, we act to promote the interests of the State of Kansas, then the nation and, ultimately, the world through research, teaching, and the preservation and dissemination of knowledge. In particular, the University provides service to the State of Kansas through its state and federally funded research centers, academic programs, arts facilities, and public programs and by addressing the health care workforce needs of the state.

University resources must be reserved for business purposes on behalf of the University. They may not be used for personal gain or any other inappropriate personal use. University resources include:

  • University systems (e.g., telephone systems, data communication and networking services);
  • The University domain for electronic communication forums;
  • The University name, brand, reputation and goodwill;
  • The Jayhawk and other University trademarks and intellectual property;
  • University equipment (e.g., computers and peripherals, University vehicles);
  • University facilities;
  • Procurement tools (e.g., purchasing cards, travel cards, petty cash);
  • University records, including student, employee, donor, sponsor, research data, and patient records; and
  • The time and effort of employees, students, and others at KU.

We recognize that, collectively and as individuals, we are steadfast stewards of all relationships, resources, and opportunities that have been entrusted to us.