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Ethical Culture Initiatives

YOU@PSU: Ethics and Compliance Statements

One crucial responsibility that every Penn State employee has is creating and maintaining a respectful and ethical workplace. This includes knowing and fulfilling one’s obligations under AD88: Code of Responsible Conduct and other ethics and compliance policies applicable to one’s position at the University. While employees are required to comply with laws and regulations applicable to one’s position, this is but one component of our larger commitment to a respectful and ethical workplace.

Beginning in 2016-2017, YOU@PSU will include assessment of one’s compliance obligations and specific ethical workplace norms under each of the five competency areas. Additionally, there will be a year-end conversation about how the Penn State Values are incorporated and reflected in our work. For more specific information on these changes, including the specific statements added to YOU@PSU, please see YOU@PSU: Ethics and Compliance Statements.


Ethics Policies

Two key new ethics policies are AD86 "Acceptance of Gifts and Entertainment" and AD88 "Code of Responsible Conduct." Additional ethics policy resources are available at the links below:


Addressing Fear of Retaliation

A major challenge uncovered by the 2013 Values and Culture Survey was fear of retaliation. Finance & Business, a University service unit of nearly 7,200 employees, is piloting an initiative to address this challenge. The pilot will then be modified and replicated for use in other units across the University.


Penn State Values and Culture Survey

The Ethics Research Center (ERC), the research arm of the Ethics and Compliance Initiative (ECI) – an independent nonprofit organization (www. – conducted a survey on behalf of The Pennsylvania State University. The Penn State Values & Culture Survey was distributed to all active members of the Penn State community; including students, faculty, staff, administrators, and technical service employees on all campuses. The purpose of the survey is to better understand the culture of the University and the values of the Penn State community. The results of the survey were released in September 2014. A follow up survey is planned for fall 2017.


An Emerging Leader in University Ethics

Penn State “is at the forefront of an effort by Big Ten universities to put ethics at the center of everything they do,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. James F. Keenan, S.J., author of University Ethics: Why Colleges Need a Culture of Ethics, and organizer of a recent national conference on university ethics, told The Chronicle that “I was really astonished at how much entering into the ordinary day-to-day lives of people in secretarial positions, in a variety of different bubbles, they were doing,..Rarely is there a university-wide standard of ethics. That’s what Penn State seems to be after.”