Professional Conduct and Ethics
The goal of standards of conduct and professional ethics is to preserve openness of communication, intellectual honesty, and the free pursuit of learning, effective teaching and administrative work, a positive working environment, and avoidance of exploitation, harassment and discrimination.
Standards of Conduct
Standards of conduct such as appropriate forms of conversation, styles of leadership, and manner of communication are culturally conditioned and require negotiation of communities of diversity to function. The ability of faculty members to work within multicultural and theologically diverse contexts is an appropriate manner for ongoing development.
Professional Conduct and Professional Ethics
Professional conduct is a part of professional ethics. In evaluating faculty member conduct and ethical behavior, the Iliff School of Theology follows the standards of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Statement on Professional Ethics, adopted by the Association’s Council in 2009, which addresses the ethical relationship of faculty members to their scholarly pursuit; to students; to students; to other faculty and staff colleagues; to the institution at which they are employed; and to the broader public. These AAUP standards are:
- Professors, guided by 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 ensure 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, even when it leads to findings and conclusions that differ from their own. 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.
Impact of Professional Conduct and Ethics on Continuation and Advancement
Professional conduct and ethics, as described above, are appropriately matters of ongoing development and advancement for faculty. Where there is a written record of violations of ethics and conduct that have been brought to the faculty member’s attention, in accordance with due process as outlined throughout this Faculty Handbook, and remain unresolved after reasonable attempts to address them, this record may negatively impact continuation and advancement.
Non-Discrimination and Title IX Compliance
The Iliff School of Theology affirms a policy of non-discrimination in its admission, employment, and educational policies and it is committed to maintaining the civil rights of all persons employed by or attending the School against unlawful discrimination, and the School intends that its programs, activities and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, gender, religion, national origin, political persuasion, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, height, weight, veteran status, age or familial status.
Faculty members will abide by the Iliff School of Theology’s current “Policy on Sex/Gender Harassment, Discrimination, and Misconduct,” found on the School’s website and in the Staff Employee Handbook.
Principles of Academic Freedom
The School affirms that all members of the Faculty are entitled to academic freedom. They have full freedom in research and in the publication of the results of such research, and full freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject.
The School will not abridge the civil rights of any faculty member to act as a private citizen. However, faculty members are not to promote a purely private position as that of the School. Commission of serious misconduct while acting as a private citizen, even though related to an exercise of a civil right, shall not shield such misconduct from disciplinary or evaluative consideration if otherwise relevant and within the provisions of this Faculty Handbook.
The procedure utilized in the investigation of any complaint of civil rights infringement will be the same as that used for the investigation of a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual exploitation.
Freedom in Evaluating Student Performance
A faculty member’s decision regarding a student’s grade will be final, except in extraordinary circumstances when the Dean may alter the decision of a faculty member, after consultation with that faculty member, and a review by and with the approval of the Curriculum Committee. Such instances of a grade review are normally set in motion by student complaint or petition to the Dean for a grade review in accordance with the relevant sections of the Master’s Student Handbook.
Protection from Sexual Misconduct
The definitions and policies outlined below apply to all professional relationships conducted in relation to the Iliff School of Theology by administrators, faculty, students, staff, and
trustees. These definitions and policies also pertain to all relationships in internship and continuing education programs, on or off campus.
The School is committed to maintaining a humane atmosphere in which individuals do not abuse their personal and professional authority or power in interpersonal relationships. The School will not condone actions and words that a reasonable person would regard as sexual misconduct, especially gender discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual exploitation.
Types of Sexual Misconduct
- Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature and can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, such as sexual assault or acts of sexual violence. It includes coercive behavior of a sexual nature that threatens an employment or academic reprisal, or promises rewards contingent upon obtainment of sexual favors, or as spreading stories or accusations about a person’s sexual conduct.
- Gender discrimination is defined as derogatory references to gender.
- Sexual orientation discrimination is defined as derogatory references to sexual orientation.
- Sexual exploitation is defined as the secret or open violation of the professional relationship between persons of unequal power in the educational environment of the Iliff School of Theology by manipulating, inviting, or agreeing to participate in sexual activities.
- Amorous relationships between two persons where one provides direct or indirect supervision over the other are fraught with the potential for exploitation and real or perceived sexual misconduct, even within an apparently consenting relationship. What may seem consensual at any given time may not be truly consensual if there is a significant power differential between the parties. Thus, those relationships may be the basis of legal charges, institutional or ecclesiastical discipline if a complaint is initiated at a future time. Sexual relationships between faculty members and students, or between superior and subordinate employees, can undermine the atmosphere of trust essential to the educational process and the employment relationship. Therefore, romantic/sexual relationships between faculty members and students are unacceptable under almost any circumstances. If such a relationship develops, the faculty member shall not have subsequent responsibility for evaluating the employment and/or academic performance or for making decisions regarding the promotion, tenure, or compensation of the other party to the relationship. The faculty member comes under supervision of the Dean, who determines if further disciplinary action is necessary, multiple incidents or failure to self-report the relationship could be grounds for dismissal.
Investigation and Appeals Procedure
Persons who believe that they have been the object of sexual misconduct should so advise the Dean or the President in writing. Investigation of a complaint will be conducted by the Dean or the President, and will be undertaken immediately and conducted in an expeditious manner, assuring maximum confidentiality consistent with principles of due process and fundamental fairness as outlined below.
- Once the Dean or president has received a written complaint, in consultation with each other and the complainant, a person will be designated to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether a reasonable basis for the complainant's allegations exists. At this stage, the identity of the complainant shall not be disclosed without the consent of the complainant.
- If the preliminary investigation reveals that there is a reasonable basis for believing that a violation of this policy has occurred, the person against whom the complaint has been filed will be informed of the complaint, and the designated authority will conduct an administrative review of the complaint including: (1) Review of the allegations by the complainant; (2) Review of the response of the accused to the allegations; (3) Negotiations to resolve the matter in a manner reasonably acceptable to both interested parties.
All the parties involved at this stage should be cautioned not to publicize or divulge either the nature of the proceedings or the identity of the people involved.
- If the Dean or the President determines that a violation of this policy occurred, the Dean or the President may issue an oral or written warning, demand a promise not to commit such an abuse again, or impose mandatory counseling on the individual who violated the policy. The Dean or the President will communicate his or her determination in writing to both the complaining party and the accused, and a copy will be placed in the perpetrator's file.
If, after the informal proceedings, the Dean or the President concludes that there is no reasonable basis for the complaint, the complainant may pursue a formal complaint in accordance with the procedure outlined in this section.
In addition, if, after the informal proceedings, the Dean or the President concludes that there is a reasonable basis to support the allegations of misconduct and takes appropriate steps to bring the matter to a satisfactory resolution, but either the accused or the complainant is not satisfied with the resolution recommended, then the Dean or President shall initiate the formal proceedings.
- Once an incident of sexual misconduct has been alleged, the President in consultation with the Dean will appoint a Sexual Misconduct Panel of three members to hear complaints and recommend action. It will always have at least one female member.
- The panel will request and review all written documents and interview all persons necessary for establishing the facts of the situation. At any time in the proceedings, the panel may conclude that the complaint is unfounded and discontinue the review.
- Once investigation is completed, the panel will make recommendations to the President concerning its findings. Recommendations include, but are not limited to, those indicated for informal proceedings.
- The President will communicate his or her determination in writing to both the complaining party and the accused and a copy will be placed in the perpetrator's file.
- When complaints are substantiated, the perpetrator’s file will carry the written disposition of the complaints, and may be reported in subsequent letters of reference depending upon the judgment of the President, the nature of the resolution of the case, the offender’s subsequent conduct and legal requirements. Substantiated complaints will be reported to any authorities as required by local, state, or federal law.
Right of Appeal
All Faculty have the right of appeal according to the terms of their contracts and to the policies and procedures of this Faculty Handbook.
Protection from Reprisals and Further Harm
All parties’ allegations of misconduct shall be afforded protection from reprisals resulting from investigations and determinations. Protection from reprisal may include, but not be limited to, removal from teaching or participating in classes, and from direct supervision of the complainant by the employee, and provision that letters of reference be written by those who are not in a position of authority to retaliate.
In exceptional cases, the President may suspend from duties at the School a faculty member involved in a case of sexual misconduct when there is convincing evidence that the person would do immediate harm or take retaliatory action against another person.
Application of Standards
Standards of academic freedom and ethical responsibility apply to all Faculty, in all categories of faculty employment, whether full-time or part-time employees of the School.