CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY

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Standard 11: Integrity  


Description

CCSU leaders understand their statutory and ethical responsibilities, and this understanding is reflected in CCSU’s Mission Statement, the CSU Ethics Statement, CCSU’s Affirmative Action policies, and its Faculty Handbook (Exhibit 11.1). Transparency of government and honesty encourage an atmosphere where issues of integrity can be openly considered. By providing for academic freedom and respect for First Amendment rights, the University demonstrates the importance of creating and maintaining a University accessible to all students in their pursuit of knowledge.  CCSU’s historic support for freedom to pursue, teach and disseminate knowledge is reflected in its AAUP and SUOAF CBAs. Support is also found in CCSU’s “Policy on Academic Misconduct,” and again echoed in the system-wide “statement of civility” in CCSU’s student handbook: “The opportunity to live, study, and work in an institution which values diverse intellectual and cultural perspectives and encourages discussion and debate about competing ideas in an atmosphere of civility is a basic component of quality higher education.”

All of the University’s dealings with external constituencies are governed by contracts that include many of CCSU’s core principles such as nondiscrimination and respect for the privacy rights of students.  All contracts entered into by CCSU are approved by Connecticut’s Office of the Attorney General and are subject to Connecticut’s open records laws.   CCSU also abides by state law governing its relationship with the private foundation established for CCSU’s benefit.  Furthermore, CCSU has promulgated policies and guidance regarding conflicts of interest rules or contractual work that could encourage the disclosure of confidential information.  In its relations with internal groups, CCSU adheres to the same high standards.  Its Policy on Academic Misconduct requires professors to impose academic sanctions for misconduct; in the case of repeat offenders or severe academic infractions, students are referred to CCSU’s Office of Student Conduct , which may impose additional sanctions. To ensure student privacy, CCSU has a privacy policy in its student handbook.  CCSU’s “Policy for Development and Maintenance of the University Web Site,” requires that all posted material conform to copyright and other intellectual property laws, among others, and license agreements and contracts.  In this regard, the governing CBA protects intellectual property rights (invention and copyright authorship protections) of faculty members by incorporating references to state statutory law.
 

CCSU is committed to the pursuit of academic freedom for both faculty and students, as evidenced by several of its publications.  The Faculty Senate, which was established to voice the will of the faculty, has decision-making authority over matters involving academic freedom.  The Senate By-laws includes a special Committee on Academic Freedom to review and report to the Senate on “all matters of academic freedom within the University.” 

 

Both the teaching and administrative faculty CBAs contain provisions on academic freedom.  The AAUP CBA also establishes an Academic Freedom Panel that investigates and mediates complaints and issues findings.  Examples of the University’s deep commitment to academic freedom can be seen in its decision to proceed with a controversial in-service teaching workshop on the Middle East and its establishment of a Task Force on Journalistic Integrity to examine the legal issues surrounding student speech in the campus newspaper (Exhibit 11.2).  

 

As a public institution of higher education in Connecticut, CCSU is governed in its administration and operation by section 10a of the Connecticut General Statutes. These laws mandate accountability and transparency and provide a broad framework under which the Board must formulate its system-wide polices, within which CCSU must operate. As a State University, CCSU must also act in accordance with the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, which provides for transparency in the conduct of public business; Connecticut’s Code of Ethics for public officials and state employees; and the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, which ensures student privacy. CCSU abides by Connecticut’s contract bidding laws, which dictate how and when competitive bids and proposals must be solicited. Recent changes to state ethics laws ensure accountability by all state employees.

The University’s teaching faculty CBA widely provides that no member be discriminated against on the basis of “age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or ethnic or cultural origin, nor with respect to any legal behavior not detrimental to the students or other members of the University community.” Search committees must employ affirmative action when selecting candidates. Also, the Office of Diversity and Equity’s mission includes coordinating the University’s promotion and development of a culturally diverse community, and guiding CCSU in achieving diversity through training and investigation of complaints. The Faculty Handbook provides that “it is…the policy of the leadership of Central Connecticut State University to advance social justice and equity by exercising affirmative action to remove all discriminatory barriers to equal employment opportunity and upward mobility…” This includes consistent review of personnel policies and procedures to target and eliminate practices that have a discriminatory impact. Lastly, the Faculty Senate Diversity Committee supports and designs programs and events that promote and incorporate diversity in all hiring and promotion decisions.

CCSU has enacted policies and procedures to ensure that programs, operations, and responsibilities are managed with honesty and integrity. These policies call for independent review, as well as appeals procedures to ensure the fair and consistent application of policies. An example of Faculty Senate- approved policies implemented through administrative departments are  dismissal procedures, which ensure that students have a right to a dismissal hearing to petition for academic probation, and CCSU’s Appeals for Grade Changes policy, which offers students a process by which to contest their grades.

CCSU’s Academic Affairs division ensures that students are treated with honesty and integrity.  This division requires that all research be conducted in an ethical manner. Financial aspects are managed through the Office of Grants Administration with procedures for proper expenditure and accounting. Any research involving human subjects must be approved by the Human Studies Council and adhere to federal guidelines. Any research involving animals must follow IACUC guidelines (Exhibit 11.3). Research involving university databases must also be approved by the Director of Institutional Research and Assessment and must adhere to the University Data Collection Policy.

The divisions of Administrative Affairs and Student Affairs together manage operations related to the health, welfare, and physical environment seamlessly.   CCSU’s Police Department’s annual Clery Report provides comprehensive information about the safety of the campus.  Responsibilities are managed with honesty and integrity in other ways such as the Athletics department policies following NCAA’s established recruiting guidelines or the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct with a drug-screening protocol that allows for a pre-sanction appeals process.

CCSU manages its interactions with prospective students to ensure they are treated with the same honesty and fairness as enrolled students. Through its Office of Recruitment and Admissions, CCSU offers admissions advising to all undergraduate applicants, and the Office of Financial Aid observes the highest legal and ethical standards in its dealings with students.

CCSU sponsors many outreach activities that are open to students, particular groups, or the public. Events sponsored by academic departments are reviewed and approved through the academic deans’ offices and purchasing and accounting processes.  Events sponsored through centers follow a similar process with their administrators.  Conferences and speakers offered through grants are also reviewed in the grants approval process.  CCSU also makes its facilities available to groups that are not affiliated with the University so long as they have a university sponsor. All such events are handled by CCSU’s Events Management department.  Events Management ensures that all events run at the University are appropriate for the University’s educational mission. Increasingly academic departments are seeking assistance from Continuing Education to plan conferences and workshops.

The variety of events is extensive (Exhibit 11.4). The Vance Distinguished Lecture Series has hosted such speakers as Dan Rather, George H.W. Bush and Shimon Peres. CCSU hosts an annual conference sponsored by the Center for Africana Studies and a “Literacy Essentials” conference hosted by the Reading and Language Arts Department. Highlights of the past two years have included a Global Environmental Sustainability Conference, an International Academic Conference on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Pathways to Peace, and the interdisciplinary “Language of Images” conference, which attracted several international participants. CCSU also hosts an annual Summer Music Institute for music teachers.

The University has a number of procedures to address grievances, disputes, and complaints from its community.  In May of 2005, the University re-established its ombudsperson position to address matters of concern for the entire campus community.  A neutral third party, the Ombudsperson investigates complaints, mediates solutions, expedites processes and advocates for specific action.  CCSU also has established union contractual grievance procedures for most categories of employees. Through its Office of Diversity and Equity, CCSU has a formal internal complaint procedure to address complaints from employees and students of discrimination and harassment based on protected status (Exhibit 11.5).  Through its Human Resources department, CCSU has an ADA-Reasonable Accommodation policy to address the concerns of disabled applicants and employees. For its students, CCSU has a system wide Code of Conduct and Guidelines for Student Rights and Responsibilities and Judicial Procedures.

CCSU has consistently demonstrated a commitment to conduct itself with integrity and honesty in all of its dealings with the NEASC Commission. Each year since the Commission’s site visit in 1998, CCSU has filed an annual report with the Commission to facilitate the Commission’s monitoring of its accreditation and to keep the Commission informed of any substantive changes within the reporting period.  CCSU also filed its Fifth Year Report in 2003, responding to issues raised by the Commission in 1998.  The following incident illustrates CCSU’s commitment to integrity and forthrightness in communicating with the Commission. While reviewing NEASC policies in preparation for the upcoming site visit, a CCSU administrator discovered that two academic programs should have been submitted separately for NEASC approval: the graduate programs delivered by CCSU faculty partially in Jamaica as an additional instructional site and the approved online MS in Data Mining.  CCSU promptly notified the Commission of the oversight and filed both additional reports. To ensure compliance with the Commission’s standards, policies, and requirements of affiliation, representatives from CCSU also regularly attend the yearly NEASC conference.

Integrity is central to CCSU’s functioning as a University. CCSU complies with integrity requirements as found in the other Commission Standards within this self study.  For example, the Chancellor and Presidential Assessments and the Board’s Resolution to make CSU more student-centered demonstrate integrity in planning and priority-making for the future (Standard Two). Standard Three calls for a system of governance that supports institutional integrity; our structure does just that through its statutory framework and clearly established and transparent policies under our open records laws.  Similarly, Standard Four calls for the integrity of CCSU’s academic programs and the credits and degrees it awards which apply not only to on-ground courses and programs but also to online and to our programs offered in Jamaica. In the case of online courses, access requires that students have a CCSU pipeline account. Only students who are registered for the online course and have created a password have access to enter into the online format, which is necessary each time they enter the class. Ninety percent of the interaction in online courses takes place in the discussion thread. Specific online office hours and synchronous chat sessions are scheduled by faculty. In addition, the data mining graduate courses are writing-intensive and project-intensive.   CCSU provides faculty the ability to have students add a picture of themselves and a short biography to their online course as a technique to build community and identify writing styles.  Hiring processes, review and evaluation of faculty support integrity in relations with CCSU faculty/staff (Standard Five).  Integrity is inherent in our policies/standards that apply to the remaining Commission Standards (Six through Ten) as well (See Exhibit 4.3: Student Teaching Handbook as example for Standard Six).

 

Appraisal

In the last few years, Connecticut has significantly revamped its ethics laws and administrative mechanisms to insure compliance.  The University appointed an Ethics Compliance Officer whose role is to provide formal training for the university community in the ethics code and to monitor compliance.  A review of the Compliance Officer’s log indicates that many employees are availing themselves of this resource.

In an effort to ascertain CCSU employees’ view of ethics on this campus, CCSU asked its employees in a recent Employee Satisfaction Survey to rate academic integrity and professional ethics within their department; employees rated them both high in importance and satisfaction.

In assessing CCSU’s commitment to the free pursuit and dissemination of knowledge, employees’ responses in the Employee Satisfaction Survey made it clear that academic freedom, in all of its dimensions, is firmly protected and embraced at CCSU.  Three members of the Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Freedom confirmed that the Faculty Senate was well satisfied that there were no current concerns, problems, or issues concerning academic freedom. 

In a 2007 campus controversy, the University demonstrated its fidelity to the protection of First Amendment rights.  This controversy involved the right of CCSU’s student newspaper to publish a widely decried article and cartoon, both of which many on campus found to be highly offensive. The University’s position that such expression was protected by the First Amendment was later confirmed by Connecticut’s Attorney General. 

In assessing whether CCSU adheres to non-discriminatory policies and practices and fosters an environment that respects diversity, we looked at data collected and analyzed by several different areas within the University.

CCSU has been consistently enrolling more first time, full-time minority students.  For example, in fall 2006, 185 first-time, full-time students reported that they were from a minority group and this number increased by 24% to 236 in fall 2007.  Over the last 4 years, the number of first-time, full-time African Americans or Blacks has increased by 37%, and the number of first-time, full-time Hispanic students has increased by 34%.

In an effort to measure how CCSU’s students view various aspects of campus life, the University has administered the SSI survey to its students every two years since 2004. Part of this survey has been directed to issues of fair treatment; data are available from the fall of 2004 and the fall of 2006.  NSSE collects data specific to students’ perceptions on diversity.

In fall 2004, in response to the statement that faculty are fair and unbiased in their treatment of individual students, the mean average student satisfaction rate was 5.07/7.0.   In 2006, the mean average student satisfaction rate was 5.13/7.0.   In fall 2004, in response to the statement that there is a strong commitment to diversity on this campus, the mean average student satisfaction rate was 5.21.   In 2006, the mean average student satisfaction rate was 5.22.   When these data are broken down by race and ethnicity, the average satisfaction rate is lower for Black/African American students: 4.48 in 2004 and 4.42 in 2006.  For Hispanic/Latino (and Puerto Rican) students, the average satisfaction rate was the same in 2004: 5.21, and lower in 2006: 5.09.   

Although it appears from these data that in 2004 and 2006 most students were somewhat satisfied with their treatment by faculty and with CCSU’s commitment to diversity, several events on campus in the calendar year 2007 raised concerns about the campus climate at CCSU. In response to the Employee Satisfaction Survey administered in late 2007, employees rated the statement “[t]his institution strives to create a respectful work environment free of discrimination” very high in importance but much lower in satisfaction.  A short climate survey was conducted by the Faculty Senate Diversity Committee in 2007. Although only 121 responded to the survey, an analysis revealed some statistical differences of feelings of prejudice and discrimination, especially among faculty and staff of color, in the areas of gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. A gender equity study sponsored by the same committee concluded that there were concerns resulting from the disproportionate number of negative promotion decisions against women in 2006 and from men receiving higher overall initial salaries than women. In response to these concerns, the President collected information and recommendations from many campus groups; he then compiled and published a list of 104 diversity initiatives, many of which are underway. In addition to working on these initiatives, the Faculty Senate Diversity Committee focused on training faculty to improve their ability to discuss difficult and sensitive issues with their students.  Yet, as stated in the Report of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity, “despite these efforts, there is a continued concern about the lack of a coordinated, systemic approach in addressing diversity throughout the University and about its long range success or impact.”   

CCSU compiles an affirmative action plan each year. A review of CCSU’s goal achievement data reveals that, despite these good faith efforts, CCSU consistently fails to meet its hiring goals.  An interview with Thomasina Carr, former Director of Affirmative Action, revealed that, in her opinion, CCSU’s difficulty in hiring minorities is a result of its failure to recruit a sufficient number of minority applicants.

In assessing whether the University manages its interactions with prospective students with honesty and integrity, the subcommittee looked at CCSU’s annual Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) reports, which the University uses to monitor longitudinal performance on key performance indicators.  Since CCSU’s IPEDS reports are published on its Web site, prospective students have access to demographic data at, both, the university and program levels, retention rates, graduation rates, faculty to student ratios, average course loads, financial aid awards, and other data to allow them to make informed decisions about attending CCSU.  Further, the Admissions department provides information about CCSU when it recruits students through college fairs, high school recruitment, local churches, and other means.
 

Projection

CCSU has more work to do in improving the climate on campus and creating a campus that fosters diversity among its faculty, staff and students.   Recently, the Faculty Senate Diversity Committee held a CCSU Diversity Conference (Exhibit 11.6), inviting the campus to participate in conversations about diversity at CCSU.  Among the issues discussed were:  1) a need for better communication between the various campus groups working on diversity initiatives, 2) the difficulty CCSU has recruiting and retaining employees of color, and 3) the need to infuse diversity into the curriculum.  The University will continue to support these initiatives with funds from multiple sources, including the President’s office, Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and the academic deans.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity, a group appointed by the President, interviewed many members of the campus community during the spring 2008 semester. In its report to the President the commission presented a number of recommendations for improving the campus climate that focus on leadership, planning, and community outreach.

In other efforts, CCSU recently upgraded its Chief Diversity Officer position and hired a new Diversity Officer.  It is expected that he will play a significant role in coordinating the campus’s diversity efforts.   Specific plans for the new Office of Diversity and Equity include developing a Strategic Plan for Diversity, creating a “Critical Incident Response Procedure” for incidents of racism and discrimination, and mandatory diversity and sexual harassment training. Additionally, in response to the concerns raised by the Faculty Senate Diversity Committee’s gender equity study, the University has funded the Center for Public Policy and Social Research to oversee a further, more narrowly focused study.  Phase I of the study, initiated in July, 2008, is being conducted to discern whether there is an equity problem on campus and, if so, in what areas. Information is being collected from data available through the Human Resources Office.  In addition, the next iteration of the College Employment Satisfaction Survey in fall 2008 will contain items that compare perceptions of satisfaction between women/ minorities and white males.

CCSU as a whole needs to continue to work on the diversity initiatives outlined by the President, adding those that came out of the Diversity Conference and the recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission and the new gender equity study.   CCSU’s President and administrative staff will continue to lead the campus by demonstrating their commitment to diversity and multicultural competence.  CCSU’s faculty will work hand-in-hand with the President and his staff to improve diversity on campus.
 

Institutional Effectiveness


Institutional integrity encompasses all areas of the institution in terms of internal and external ethical principles. As noted above, CCSU improved employees’ compliance with ethical standards and has successfully educated its employees on the importance of ethics in all of their business dealings.  CCSU has done an excellent job of protecting employees’ academic freedom and free speech rights and does a good job of managing its interactions with prospective students with honesty and integrity. 
 All surveys it conducts and all data that are presented support standards for institutional integrity.  Continued assessment will occur in the area of campus climate, specifically to the diversity initiatives it has chosen to undertake, to determine our progress.
 

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Last Update: Tuesday September 09, 2008