The following Academic Code of Professional Ethics was adopted by the General Faculty on April 29, 1991. Editorial changes have been made wherever necessary to reflect alterations of institutional structure and nomenclature mandated by the revised Statutes of the University and Bylaws of the Faculty Senate.

An Academic Code of Professional Ethics

1. The Ethics of Adopting an Academic Code of Professional Ethics

  1. The purpose of a code of professional ethics, academic or otherwise, is to provide a uniformly respected incentive to the appropriate fulfillment of one's professional commitments.
  2. To this end, a code of professional ethics should concentrate upon providing a positive statement of those principles of action which, it can generally be agreed among those who practice the profession, contribute to commendable professional performance.
  3. It is to be inferred from the foregoing that a code of professional ethics places greater emphasis upon conveying what a practitioner of the profession ideally ought to do, rather than upon what he or she ought not to do.
  4. It is further to be inferred, therefore, that both in spirit and in practical application, a code of professional ethics is intended as both a general guide and an encouragement.

2. Available Resources and the Scope of this Document

  1. The patterns of action considered appropriate to various aspects of one's academic performance are stated, with varying degrees of coverage and focus of interest, by one or all of the following--depending upon the nature of the institution: the American Association of University Professors; the discipline with which a particular individual identifies; the institutional Board of Trustees or its equivalent (in the case of Valdosta State University: the Board of Regents of the University System); and the Administration, Committees, and Faculty Senate of the particular institution.
  2. The Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Ethics, which has been charged with drafting this present statement, has unanimously recommended that the Administration and Faculty of Valdosta State University adopt the 1987 professional ethics statement of the American Association of University Professors. A copy of this statement follows this Code.
  3. The attention of all faculty is directed to the professional code, if any exists, of his or her discipline.
  4. The Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Ethics directs attention to the fact that numerous overt references and/or implied expectations regarding academic professional standards are contained in the following authorized documents of this institution: (a) the annual Undergraduate Bulletin and Graduate Bulletin; (b) the Statutes of Valdosta State University; (c) the criteria provided in the application forms pertaining to promotion and tenure; and (d) the criteria provided in the annual faculty evaluation forms.
  5. It is the intention of this statement of professional ethics to attend only to those guidelines for professional academic practice which might especially pertain to the Faculty and Administration of this institution, and to do so by incorporating the major interests of the previously cited institutional documents (cf. 2.4), and by conforming to the outline of the 1987 professional ethics code recommended by the American Association of University Professors and endorsed by this committee (cf. 2.2).

3. The Responsibility of Faculty to Their Subjects

  1. While responsibility priorities at a given moment are frequently determined by an immediate need at hand, all faculty are everywhere and at all times rightly perceived as publicly recognized members of their respective disciplines.
  2. As publicly recognized members of their disciplines, faculty enjoy the responsibility of sustaining their academic expertise through regular and conscientious inquiry, reflection, and research--thereby deepening and broadening their facility in their elected field(s) of interest.
  3. In consequence of the foregoing (3.2), faculty recognize their obligation (a) to convey their knowledge and perceptions accurately and fairly to others--acknowledging diversities of interpretation as may be pertinent, and (b) to exercise scrupulous regard for the ethical standards of their disciplines (cf 2.3) and of the general academic community in the management of research personnel, techniques, findings, and reporting.
  4. Faculty likewise accept responsibility, however difficult or unpleasant this may be on occasion, for speaking the truth as they perceive it regarding the issues entailed in their several disciplines, and to do so uncompromisingly, irrespective of institutional, community, political, or other insistence that truth be subverted.

4. The Responsibility of Faculty to Their Students

  1. The fundamental responsibility in this regard to which faculty obligate themselves is that of respecting the human dignity of each student, irrespective of his or her academic status. All recommended practices cited hereafter in this section assume concurrence with the foregoing principle.
  2. Respect for each individual student entails confidentiality regarding not only personal matters discussed, but likewise regarding a student's performance and grades other than for institutionally sanctioned purposes.
  3. Respect for each individual student restrains faculty from exploiting students for personal advantage, permitting personal likes or dislikes to affect grades assigned or evaluations written, engaging in sexual harassment, directing ad hominem remarks against a student, or otherwise demeaning or degrading a student (not to be confused with a professional academic exchange of contrary viewpoints with a student).
  4. Faculty are privileged to serve as intellectual guides for their students, not only by stimulating interest in the subject matter of the class, in learning, and in the principles of academic honesty, but also by rendering personal assistance as required and by setting a personal example of academic commitment.

5. The Responsibility of Faculty to Their Colleagues

  1. Faculty are responsible no less to their colleagues than to their students regarding the fundamental principle of respect for persons.
  2. Respect for his or her colleagues obligates faculty to refrain from ethnic, sexual, religious or other categories of verbal abuse; from discriminatory practices; from ad hominem remarks against colleagues; and from other forms of harassment.
  3. Respect for persons likewise entails a respect for opinions, whether agreeable or disagreeable--with the implied corollary that another's right to free inquiry and to the free dissemination of the results is to be defended.
  4. Faculty accept responsibility for discharging their appointed share of committee assignments, student advising, and other governance tasks assigned to the faculty.

6. The Responsibility of Faculty to Their Institution

  1. Faculty are likewise responsible, and in equal degree, to the institutional administration regarding the fundamental principle of respect for persons.
  2. Faculty, while committed to exhibiting in their practices those regulatory provisions of the institution which do not inhibit academic freedom, are nevertheless privileged to question and to seek alteration of those provisions through the institutional means, both formal and informal, approved for that purpose.
  3. Faculty are expected to honor the terms of their employment, especially with respect to the fact that they are receiving remuneration to ensure, among other expectations, that the institution is entitled to lay first claim upon their time and commitments during the course of a regular and reasonably defined work-week.
  4. In view of the preceding (6.c), it is anticipated that faculty will be conscientious in self-monitoring the employment of their time, and that they will be judicious in allotting exemptions from their schedules--confining themselves in this regard primarily (though not exclusively) to debilitating personal and/or family situations, holy days of religious obligations, community requirements, and professional meetings of significance to the improved performance of their primary obligations as scholars and teachers.
  5. In view of the preceding (6.c), it is also anticipated that faculty will submit themselves to non-institutional and/or non-academic commitments only upon careful review of their prior professional commitments, so as not to infringe upon the proper performance of the latter.
  6. Requests to terminate or interrupt service to the institution ordinarily should be submitted well in advance of the proposed date of implementation, thereby allowing those responsible adequate time to provide alternative arrangements.
  7. The Administration is entitled to suppose that all faculty are acquainted with the stipulations of the Statutes of Valdosta State University, especially those of Article VI, and that their acceptance of employment within the institution is to be construed as tacit consent to abide by these stipulations--irrespective of whether or not all stipulations are found to be equally agreeable.

7. The Responsibility of Faculty to Their Community

  1. It is incumbent upon faculty to clarify the roles and interests of their profession, their discipline, and their institution fairly and objectively within the broader community.
  2. It is further incumbent upon faculty to resist attempted abridgements of free inquiry and the free transmission of ideas, irrespective of the source of those attempts, and to exhibit within the community the meaning of responsible academic freedom.
  3. Faculty are obligated to take their professional responsibilities into consideration when committing themselves to community service, and to ensure that the latter is not undertaken to the detriment of the former (cf. 6.d, 6.e).
  4. While enjoying the prerogatives of any other citizens, faculty are enjoined to advertise all opinions as either personal or professional rather than as institutional, unless they are specifically authorized to claim otherwise.

8. The Role of the Administration in Sustaining an Environment Conducive to Fulfilling the Terms of an Academic Code of Professional Ethics

  1. If faculty are to be expected to discharge their professional commitments with reasonable fidelity to the foregoing code of ethics, they in turn are entitled to suppose that support and encouragement in so doing will be a priority item on the administrative agenda.
  2. It is taken for granted that the ethical principles commended to the attention of faculty will likewise be observed, mutatis mutandis, by the administration.
  3. Faculty, in order to discharge their professional responsibilities effectively, are sustained by the assurance that traditionally valued emphases of a liberal arts education will not be eroded or sacrificed; that the priorities and practices of the academic institution will continue to support and encourage these emphases; and that the requirements of academic excellence will receive foremost consideration in determining both admission policies and curriculum offerings.
  4. Faculty are entitled to suppose that they and their department head will be consulted and kept informed regarding all matters directly affecting them or their department.
  5. Faculty are further entitled to suppose that their service on a committee (or in any other elected or appointed capacity) represents a worthwhile, creative, and determinative expenditure of interest and energy.
  6. It is understood by all faculty that they, rather than the students, determine the level and conditions of acceptable academic performance, and that the administration will seek to foster such a perception of higher education.
  7. Just as the Administration is entitled to assume that the Faculty will conscientiously seek to adhere to and to exhibit the relevant provisions of the Statutes of Valdosta State University, the Faculty is entitled to assume that the Administration will conform likewise.

An Academic Code of Professional Ethics, Appendix A:

The 1987 Association of University Professors Statement on Professional Ethics, printed in Academe, July-August, 1987. The statement that follows, a revision of a statement originally adopted in 1966, was approved by Committee B on Professional Ethics, adopted by the Council as Association policy, and endorsed by the Seventy-third Annual Meeting in June 1987.


From its inception, the American Association of University Professors has recognized that membership in the academic profession carries with it special responsibilities in major policy statements, providing guidance to professors in such matters as their utterances as citizens, the exercise of their responsibilities to students and colleagues, and their conduct when resigning from an institution or when undertaking sponsored research. The Statement on Professional Ethics that follows sets forth those general standards that serve as a reminder of the variety of responsibilities assumed by all members of the profession.

In the enforcement of ethical standards, the academic profession differs from those of law and medicine, whose associations act to assure the integrity of members engaged in private practice. In the academic profession the individual institution of higher learning provides this assurance and so should normally handle questions concerning propriety of conduct within its own framework by reference to a faculty group. The Association supports such local action and stands ready, through the general secretary and Committee B, to counsel with members of the academic community concerning questions of professional ethics and to inquire into complaints when local consideration is impossible or inappropriate. If the alleged offense is deemed sufficiently serious to raise the possibility of adverse action, the procedures should be in accordance with the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings, or the applicable provisions of the Association's Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

The Statement

Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it. To this end professors devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty. Although professors may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry.

As teachers, professors encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. They hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline. Professors demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors. Professors make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to assure that their evaluations of students reflect each student's true merit. They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student. They avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students. They acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from them. They protect their academic freedom.

As colleagues, professors have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. Professors do not discriminate against or harass colleagues. They respect and defend the free inquiry of associates. In the exchange of criticism and ideas professors show due respect for the opinions of others. Professors acknowledge academic debt and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues. Professors accept their share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of their institution.

As members of an academic institution, professors seek above all to be effective teachers and scholars. Although professors observe the stated regulations of the institution, provided the regulations do not contravene academic freedom, they maintain their right to criticize and seek revision. Professors give due regard to their paramount responsibilities within their institution in determining the amount and character of work done outside it. When considering the interruption or termination of their service, professors recognize the effect of their decision upon the program of the institution and give due notice of their intentions.

As members of their community, professors have the rights and obligations of other citizens. Professors measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of their responsibilities to their subject, to their students, to their profession, and to their institution. When they speak or act as private persons they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university. As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, professors have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.

  • 1961 Statement on Recruitment and Resignation of Faculty Member
  • 1964 Committee A Statement on Extramural Utterances (Clarification of sec. 1c of the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure)
  • 1965 On Preventing Conflicts of Interest in Government-sponsored Research at Universities
  • 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities
  • 1967 Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students
  • 1970 Council Statement on Freedom and Responsibility
  • 1976 On Discrimination
  • 1984 Sexual Harassment: Suggested Policy and Procedures for Handling Complaints
Last updated March 24, 2022.