psu lion shrine

Ethical Culture Initiatives

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 – conducted a confidential survey in October 2017 on behalf of The Pennsylvania State University. All students, faculty, staff, administrators, technical service employees, and postdoctoral scholars/fellows were invited to participate.

Results of the 2017 survey were released on May 30, 2018, and an executive summary of survey findings and a full report are available online. Full data tables reflecting all responses are also available, along with a summary of the survey methodology. All data are presented in a manner to ensure the anonymity of participants.

This is a follow up to a survey conducted by ERC in 2013, which helped us better understand the culture of the University and the values of the Penn State community. The 2017 survey will enable us to gauge our progress, evaluate the programs we implemented, and identify areas for further development. The results of the 2017 survey were the focus of a University Town Hall meeting on June 25, 2018.

In response to the findings from the 2013 survey, Penn State took a number of actions. For example:

  • We simplified the process and means of reporting misconduct.
  • We instituted standardized investigatory and review procedures.
  • We introduced new awareness, training and educational programs.
  • We increased accountability for ethics and compliance obligations and misconduct.
  • We fostered increased transparency and collaboration among leadership, faculty and staff.
  • We have worked directly with colleges, campuses and units to address their particular challenges.

For more information about the 2017 Values & Culture Survey, please see the following:


[email protected]: 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, [email protected] 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 [email protected], please see [email protected]: 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.


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.”