Standard 11: Integrity
Keene State College maintains a commitment to conducting its affairs in an ethical manner. Its legal authority (NH State Law RSA 187 - Chapter A) is drawn from the statutes of the State of New Hampshire, which delegates authority for oversight of the state's system of higher education to a board of trustees. This protects the University System from external influences "which might threaten the academic freedom of faculty members or otherwise inhibit the pursuit of academic excellence."
The Board of Trustees establishes policies to ensure conformance to ethical and legal standards. These policies provide a framework for institutional academic, administrative, personnel, financial and property policies, and they ensure that campus policy is consistent with relevant state and federal legal mandates, including those pertaining to non-discrimination, sexual harassment, and disabilities.
The Trustees' Policy on Academic Integrity (Board of Trustees II.B) states trustee commitment to the principles of integrity and truth and requires each USNH institution to develop policies and regulations on academic integrity. The College's commitment to the 1940 AAUP Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom is described in its faculty collective bargaining agreement and Faculty Manual. Keene State's policy on academic honesty is published in the catalog, the Faculty Manual, and the Student Handbook. It is reinforced in the "Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities," recently created with substantial community input.
The College's mission statement describes the responsibility of members of the campus to conduct themselves with dignity and treat others with respect; to protect and preserve the property of others, and to pursue efforts for the common good. The faculty union (KSCEA) elects a faculty mediator to assist in resolving conflicts, and faculty contract negotiations use a mutual gains approach. Faculty members subscribe to ethical standards in teaching and research. The collective bargaining agreement between the KSCEA and USNH provides assurance of academic freedom and fair practices. Campus policies on conflict of interest in research, research with human subjects, and animal welfare address ethical issues in research. USNH policies for consulting, involvement in political activity and conflict of interest establish ethical standards for public service. Campus and USNH policies are published in the Faculty Manual and on the College's website.
The College has sound policy structures at both the System and campus levels to address integrity issues, as well as a system of internal and external audits to ensure administrative standards. Administrative standards and practices are shaped by ethical guidelines. Board of Trustees bylaws require regular internal and external audits, and USNH business officers subscribe to the standards of the National Association of College and University Business Officers, and there are conflict of interest policies. The faculty contract and the College's employee grievance policies ensure due process and the resolution of employee grievances. Employee grievance policies are published in PAT and OS handbooks. Human resource policies and procedures provide ethical guidelines for hiring, training, supervising, and evaluating employees. Personnel policies are managed by the USNH System Office to ensure that each campus within the University System treats its employees in a consistent fashion. The Human Resource Director, reporting directly to the president, serves as the campus affirmative action officer. In the event that the role of the Human Resources Director conflicts with that of affirmative action officer, the campus may call on Human Resources staff at the USNH level to assist with investigations.
Policies that govern student life are articulated in the Student Handbook, including the judicial code, the academic honesty policy, the computer network use policy, residential life and dining services policies, and alcohol and other drug policies. The Student Handbook also articulates the expectations that students may have for privacy and physical safety. The campus has an active drug and alcohol abuse prevention program and a high degree of awareness of drug and alcohol policies, which we review regularly. Student athletes are expected to be role models with regard to these policies and are enrolled in a one-credit course on alcohol and drugs; expectations for student athletes are described in the Student Athlete Handbook.
Equally as important as policies are the means that the College uses to ensure that the campus environment respects the dignity of all members of the community. The President's Commission on the Status of Women advises the president on campus climate with regard to gender. This Commission has initiated revised sexual harassment complaint protocols, a family friendly policy, and a policy on non-sexist language. The Commission on Diversity and Multiculturalism oversees all diversity efforts on campus, coordinates the efforts of diversity-related groups and activities, and serves as a visible and effective advocate for diversity issues.
The implementation of the new Datatel system provides increased access to student information by students, faculty, and staff. Privacy and security issues were strong priorities of the system implementation, which provided an opportunity to review the laws and policies governing the privacy of student records and to train all faculty and staff on these policies before they are given access to the new system. The new information system has generated many discussions about how to improve the way students are served in administrative offices.
An inclusive planning process ("Speak Out!") revealed strong community concern about "employee chasms," resentments between groups of employees resulting from employment classifications and aggravated by a past period of faculty work-to-rule. The campus generated many strategies to respond to "chasms," ranging from informal recreational events, more consistent use of nametags, a regular campus newsletter column profiling faculty and staff members, and the addition of an operating staff representative on the College Senate. An improved relationship between the University System and the faculty union has increased the sense of trust on campus. The development of mutual gains bargaining in the negotiation of the faculty contract has shifted the process from one characterized by conflict and mistrust to one with a high degree of collaboration, consultation, and joint problem-solving. Other efforts addressed the part-time faculty and staff, including the publication of an adjunct faculty handbook and the more consistent inclusion of part-time faculty and staff in campus functions.
The College is committed to nurturing student development and to promoting a positive living and learning environment for students. Of particular note are its efforts to reduce high-risk consumption of alcohol and other drugs and to improve the behavioral standards of affiliated sororities and fraternities and the development of the statement of "Student Rights and Responsibilities." The College's student judicial system encourages mediated solutions to student disputes. Our residential life programs encourage strong community life. The College offers courses in ethics, which are particularly important in fields such as journalism, because student media are expected to operate in an ethical manner.
Finally, the College maintains positive and proactive relationships with external constituencies. External constituencies-alumni, community leaders, area guidance counselors, legislators, and trustees-participated in the campus "Future Search" conference in January 1997. The College works closely with the city of Keene on issues of mutual concern. The College raises friends as well as funds, and takes special care to communicate with donors and to provide stewardship of the gifts it receives.
Keene State College's new mission statement effectively addresses the institution's intentions to conduct its affairs with integrity. The importance of integrity issues-truthfulness, fairness, respect, honesty, privacy-is clearly stated in "Our Plan" as well as in the process by which the plan was developed. "The Red Book," the proceedings from the open-space campus meeting held in May 1996, and "Our Plan" provide a great deal of evidence that campus integrity policies are widely understood.
Since the last NEASC evaluation, the College has reviewed many integrity-related policies, including academic honesty, sexual harassment, and employee grievance procedures, the FERPA policy, alcohol policies and the student judicial code, to ensure that policies are current and effective. Although there is no overall plan or timeline for assessing policies and procedures, there is evidence that this is done routinely and that policy development and review occur in an open environment with opportunities for community involvement. The College has developed new policies to ensure the integrity of information systems, and a statement of student rights and responsibilities, which the College has used to help students understand their part in an academic community.
The College's policy on academic integrity was revised in the mid-nineties, with a focus on clarifying the policy and the manner in which it is enforced. Between fall 1995 and spring 1999, there were seventy-five reports of violations under the revised policy. The greatest number of violations represented charges of plagiarism or copying. In response to this information, the College has changed its first-year student orientation program so that the academic integrity policy is discussed before students come to campus and immediately prior to the start of classes in the fall. The College is affiliated with the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University and participated in a study of academic integrity policies. This study will inform the College about "best practices" and identify opportunities for improving the policy and procedures for educating the campus. The statement of "Student Rights and Responsibilities" is a relatively new document, but there is evidence of its use by faculty and staff to address situations where student behavior has a negative impact on academic classrooms and within the campus community. Like the academic integrity policy, the statement of "Student Rights and Responsibilities" is discussed with students at summer orientation.
The student judicial code was revised in the mid-nineties and is reviewed annually. It light of the challenges of high-risk student behavior, including alcohol and other drug abuse and the conduct of students participating in fraternities and sororities, the judicial code is due for a thorough review.
There is evidence that other integrity-related policies are enforced. Tracking of sexual harassment complaints demonstrates the College's ability to respond effectively. In 1998-99, a total of ten complaints were logged and responded to. Concerns about complainants' needs for follow-up led to revisions in the complaint procedures. Nearly all faculty and other employee complaints have been resolved on-campus using grievance procedures. In the last decade, two faculty grievances have gone to external arbitration. One disability complaint was registered with OCR, but investigation determined that the College had responded to the complainant appropriately. One candidate for a faculty position filed discrimination charges with the state Human Rights Commission. The Commission investigated the charge and it was dismissed.
Our efforts to meet the challenge of increasing diversity have been outlined in Standards Four and Six. Our concern for this issue is demonstrated by the re-structuring of the Commission on the Status of Diversity and Multiculturalism, co-chaired by a faculty member from Academic Affairs and a staff member from Student Affairs, each with 50% assignment to Commission activities. The Commission is modeled after the President's Commission on the Status of Women, which has established a decade-long track record for sensitizing the campus to issues related to gender equity. While it is too soon to evaluate the effectiveness of the Commission structure, there is evidence that the new organization is succeeding at raising diversity-related concerns at the institutional level. Examples include the Commission's willingness to participate in the search for a new Vice President for Student Affairs and its critique of recent curricular revisions considered by the College Senate.
An Associate Dean for Student Affairs oversees the College's compliance with disability requirements. Services are provided by the access coordinator and other members of the Elliot Center staff with assistance from an interdepartmental Disability Resource Team. In general, these staff members have been successful in meeting the needs of students with disabilities, but they have been stretched to serve the complex needs of the growing population of students with disabilities. As a result, the College established the new full-time position of Disability Services Coordinator in the 2000-2001 fiscal year.
The College has an affirmative action plan, and the Office of Human Resources orients search committees to strategies for achieving affirmative action goals. The College has not been as successful in recruiting minority faculty and staff as it has been in recruiting, hiring and promoting women. The Board of Trustees' decision made in fall 1999 to offer medical benefits to same-sex domestic partners of KSC employees has been well received.
While appropriate human resource policies are in place, faculty, staff and administrators express frustration at their complexity and bureaucratic nature. Such a system reflects many factors:
In the mid-nineties, the College introduced a plan to review all position descriptions on a four-year rotating basis; it was unable to sustain this plan while also responding to the positions that required reclassification because of reorganization or the implementation of new technology. This contributed to staff frustrations with the process. To address these issues the Human Resources Department developed new guidelines for the position review process in fiscal year 2000. It also revised its new employee orientation program, developed new procedures for employee exit interviews, and increased campus supervisory training programs. The ability of the Human Resources Office to sustain and extend orientation and training programs will be severely challenged while the College implements the new fiscal/Human Resources system. The Board of Trustees is reviewing the Human Resources polices and planning is underway for the implementation of a new system-wide Human Resources information system.
Staff members continue to express concerns about "chasms"-boundaries between employee groups which are both objective (different salary/benefit structures) and subjective (perceived differences). "Chasm" discussions have been exacerbated by the number of part-time faculty and staff, who do not receive benefits and, in some cases, have been employed by the College for extended periods of time. The College has demonstrated a commitment to moving non-status and ancillary staff into benefited positions, with eighteen PAT staff and thirteen operating staff moving into benefited positions since 1996. The trustees are presently appealing to the state Supreme Court the decision by the Public Employees Labor Relations Board authorizing the KSC Adjunct Association to bargain collectively.
The College has invested a great deal of effort in educating the student community about policies, procedures, and behavioral expectations, and it involves students in policy decisions that have a direct impact on student life. New student orientation, the development of the student rights and responsibilities statement, student judicial policies, alcohol prevention programs, residential life programs, and the implementation of new standards for campus Greek organizations are among the strategies the College has used to help students understand the expectations of campus community life. During summer orientation, College staff members also educate parents about high-risk student behaviors and their ramifications. Residential life surveys, and a review of issues raised in the student newspaper, issues raised in student government, and appeals of judicial decisions all suggest that in general, the student body accepts and understands campus policies.
One exception is in the area of Greek life. The College adopted new standards for fraternities and sororities in the spring of 1997. The standards were controversial. For many, they did not go far enough in addressing persistent negative behaviors, including illegal and high-risk alcohol use and disruptive behavior in the neighborhoods adjacent to campus. For others, including members of Greek organizations and their alumni, the standards unfairly singled out the members of fraternities and sororities. The implementation and enforcement of the new standards for Greek organizations have been difficult.
Keene State College's relationships with external constituencies have improved markedly since the appointment of President Stanley Yarosewick in 1994. There are many examples of collaboration, such as the library information system shared by the College and the city of Keene. There is a close collaborative relationship with the city of Keene and good communication with the College's local legislative delegation. The College has involved community and alumni leaders in its strategic planning process, and provides community organizations with access to campus facilities.
Keene State College will continue to demonstrate high ethical standards in the management of its affairs.
The College will sustain its commitment to diversity and to fostering a climate which respects people of diverse characteristics and backgrounds. It will sustain efforts to recruit students, faculty, and staff of diverse characteristics, and it will assess the effectiveness of the Commission on Multiculturalism and Diversity in meeting its diversity goals.
The University System of New Hampshire will complete the implementation of the new financial and human resource information system and stabilize its use. The new system will support process improvements in human resources. The Department of Human Resources will sustain efforts to streamline the position review process and improve staff orientation, training and evaluation procedures.
The College will use its experience with the Center for Academic Integrity to review its policy on academic integrity and will continue to educate students about academic expectations and policies.
The College will continue to address high-risk student behaviors, particularly those that are reinforced by Greek organizations. The College will review its student judicial policies in light of these concerns.