Old Main cupola viewed through metal sculpture with geometric design overlay.

University Ethics

The University Ethics Unit is responsible for developing, implementing, and supporting policies, standards, programs, and training concerning the University’s ethics, values, and culture. The unit collaborates with a broad cross section of functional and academic groups across the University to provide ongoing review, assessment, research, guidance, and leadership in the areas of ethics, values, culture, and ethical decision-making at all levels and locations of the University.

University Statement on Ethical Behavior

Penn State is committed to the highest standards of ethical behavior for all of its trustees, senior leadership, administrators, faculty, staff, students, and other members of the Penn State community. As a consequence, the University has established numerous policies, procedures, and other statements giving guidance and setting standards for appropriate ethical behavior by all members of the Penn State community. While the University is responsible for issuing such documents, maintaining them, giving guidance in response to questions regarding such information, and ensuring consistent application and adherence to such guidance, it is ultimately the responsibility of each individual to meet these expectations. Activities conducted by individuals on behalf of the University must be fair and appropriate and avoid even the appearance of unethical behavior.

The various individual policies and procedures are outlined in the following areas:

  • The Penn State Values provide guidelines and expectations for behavior for all members of the Penn State community.
  • The University has established conflict of interest and commitment policies and procedures designed to identify and manage interests and commitments. Such policies and procedures have been classified below according to the type of conflict they are addressing and links are provided to each one as listed in the University’s policies and procedures manual.
  • Members of the Penn State community have an ethical responsibility to handle information with appropriate care to protect its security and confidentiality.

Protection and Freedom from Retaliation

In outlining the policies and procedures contained in the above-mentioned documents, it is important that the University explicitly states that it is unacceptable for any member of the University community to be subject to any form of retaliation while adhering to such policies and procedures. See Policy AD67. Additionally, no person acting in good faith to report another individual or individuals for failure to adhere to such policies and procedures should be subject to any form of retaliation from a superior or any other individual within the University community. However, if it is determined that someone knowingly or maliciously reported under false pretense another individual or individuals allegedly failing to follow such policies and procedures, the person filing such a claim will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

Resources & Training