Published: Sept. 8, 2017

Last academic year, Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano convened an advisory group to assess our ethical culture and make recommendations about how to foster a principled culture here at CU Boulder. The group, made up of student, faculty, staff and administrator representatives, completed its work and submitted a report and recommendations to the chancellor that he reviewed over the summer.

“I convened this group so I would understand what additional resources the university needs to foster its ethical culture,” DiStefano said. “I was pleased to receive the group’s input and agree that by articulating an agreed-upon set of values, we can all work on and contribute to our ethical culture, leadership and decision-making.”

Professor Christopher Braider, chair of the French and Italian Department, and Melissa Zak, assistant vice chancellor of safety, co-chaired the committee.

“We stressed with the group that ethics is a form of communal life rather than a set of formal rules,” the co-chairs said. “We would all benefit from a common set of values among all stakeholders. Going forward, our campus should continue to articulate that mission, vision and values.”

The recommendations included action items for consideration by all students, faculty and staff, such as:

  • Tempering compliance needs with an active and inclusive communal conversation about ethics and ethical community
  • Engaging in the work of cultivating and embodying a shared cultural identity as an institution
  • Demonstrating at the leadership levels an ongoing and personal commitment to the institution’s ethical values and well-being
  • Working to achieve open communication across institutional boundaries and individual status
  • Provide training in ethics through direct discussion and debate about the ethical challenges we face.

“The group sees that our culture is changing,” noted Chancellor DiStefano, “and has identified action items intended to ensure we maintain an ethical culture through that change. We want our decision-making to be influenced by our Vision, Values, and Strategic Imperatives: Shape tomorrow’s leaders; be the top university for innovation; and positively impact humanity.”

DiStefano plans to form a follow-on committee with students, faculty and staff representation. This new group will consider how to bring the chancellor’s Vision, Values, and Strategic Imperatives into our everyday decision-making and strengthen our sense of a common set of values. By taking these steps, his goal is for the campus to achieve a more inclusive approach in its efforts to support an ethical culture.

Please email Catherine Shea, chief of staff and director of ethics and compliance, if you are interested in the work of this committee.