Maintaining Trust: The Williams Code of Conduct
Trust is the foundation on which Williams and all non-profit organizations stand. Our mission to provide the finest possible liberal arts education requires the support, financial and otherwise, of alumni, parents, friends of the college, and various levels of government. People don’t support organizations they don’t trust. Likewise, the effectiveness of our internal operations relies on trust among individual faculty and staff.
The exceptional success the college has experienced stems in significant part from the high degree of trust it enjoys. Behavior that maintains this trust advances our mission, while behavior that erodes it threatens our mission.
The funds at our disposal come almost completely from the payment of fees and from gifts to the college. In a sense, Williams has no money of its own. We have funds that families and donors have given us because they trust us to use it solely to advance the education of Williams students, now and in the future. As stewards of this money we’re not free to use it for other purposes.
Our operations must be guided not only by local, state, and national laws but also by our communal sense of which practices build trust and which undermine it. This Code of Conduct summarizes Williams’ understanding of the law and of this communal sense. Each of us, as faculty and staff, must be aware of, and abide by, laws and accepted College practices as they relate to our duties.
The Code gives a general outline and presents guiding principles; it’s up to us to apply them. A general rule is: when in doubt about any matter of proper conduct in carrying out our College responsibilities, we should seek guidance from this Code, our supervisors, the Dean of the Faculty, or Chief Human Resources Officer. The trust the college has built is too important to risk losing it.
Confidentiality and Privacy
Many of us generate and receive confidential and private information. Each of us must comply with applicable laws, agreements, policies, and principles regarding the use, protection, and disclosure of such information. This applies even after our employment at Williams ends. Confidentiality Policy
Conflicts of Interest
We each must perform all our duties in the best interests of the college. We can’t use our positions, or confidential knowledge gained as a result of our positions, for our own advantage. A conflict of interest can arise when we or a member of our family (1) has an existing or potential interest or relationship that impairs or might appear to impair our independent judgment in carrying out College duties or (2) may receive something of personal value from knowledge of information that is confidential to the college. This something of value might be money, some good or service, or a business opportunity.
It’s impossible to define all situations that might be considered conflicts, but they include the personal use of College materials or facilities; relationships with individuals, businesses, firms, or organizations that do business with the college; relationships with suppliers of goods or services to the college; or personal gifts or gifts of entertainment of more than nominal value received from suppliers of goods and services or from anyone associated with or seeking to associate with the college.
When we find ourselves in a situation of real or perceived conflict of interest, we should immediately disclose the potential conflict to our supervisors. Even the appearance of misconduct or impropriety can damage trust. Senior administrators are asked annually to disclose to the Vice President for Finance and Administration any relationship that could create a conflict of interest. Members of the Board of Trustees and officers of the college must do the same each year.
Sound financial controls are vital to maintaining trust in College operations. These controls include adequate separation of financial duties, diligent application of systems designed to prevent or detect mistakes or inappropriate transactions, and conscientious compliance with practices for authorizing and reporting transactions. These procedures are designed to ensure compliance with the law, with accepted auditing practices, and with our communal sense of what’s needed to maintain trust.
Use of College Property and Resources: We all must act as careful stewards of College resources. This is especially true when the use of funds has been restricted by donors. All College property and resources should be used to advance its mission and not for personal gain.
Gifts and Gratuities: Relationships between the college and the organizations with which it does business must be free from any perception that those relationships might be influenced improperly. We should not personally accept any significant gift, gratuity, or other payment in cash or in kind from any vendor who either does business or seeks to do business with the college. Exceptions are gifts of nominal value, generally defined as being worth $100 or less. We should report to our supervisors all gifts that have been offered us. If our supervisors aren’t confident about the appropriateness of a potential gift, they should consult with the appropriate member of Senior Staff.
Compliance with Laws, Regulations, and Policies: We must carry out our responsibilities in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures. Managers and supervisors must keep current with changes in laws and regulations, including College policies and procedures; we all have the responsibility to comply.
Contractual and Grant Obligations: The College frequently enters into contractual and other formal obligations with outside entities. These obligations may include research and other grants and contracts, commercial contracts, software licenses, gift agreements, and memos of understanding. All of us who represent Williams must act in good faith and adhere to all obligations the college assumes. Only those authorized to enter into contractual agreements on behalf of the college may do so. Questions of who is authorized can go to our supervisors, the Office of the Provost, or the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Operations.
Healthy Learning and Work Environments
We are dedicated to building a diverse and inclusive community, in which members of all backgrounds can live, learn, and thrive. The College, in compliance with state and federal law, does not discriminate in admission, employment, or administration of its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, ancestry, or military service. It’s vital that we avoid intimidating or threatening actions that might result in a hostile environment. As a community of learning, we value freedom of expression and at the same time know that it does not protect abusive or harassing behavior.
Anyone who violates a law, a Williams’ policy, or this Code while conducting College business, is subject to College disciplinary action. Disciplinary Policy & Procedures
Obligation to Report Suspected Violations and Protection from Retaliation
If you suspect a violation at the college of any law or regulation, you should raise it—normally through regular management channels, and if for some reason that’s not appropriate, then at a higher level as spelled out in the Whistleblower Policy.
Offices and departments should regularly review with their members this Code and whichever College policies (listed below) are relevant. They express our communal expectations regarding appropriate behavior. Following them will help ensure that together we perform our duties to the high standard that students, parents, alumni, and the public expect of us and that we expect of ourselves.
- Drug and Alcohol Policy
- Scientific Misconduct
- Sexual Harassment Policy
- Non-discrimination Policy
- Equal Employment Opportunity Policy
- Employment of Family Members
- Confidentiality Policy