and Integrity

Mission: Institutional Integrity


Core Component 1e: The organization upholds and protects its integrity. The University is connected to integrity throughout the organization.

This section focuses on policies that specifically address matters of integrity; training programs specific to institutional integrity; units and processes that monitor and uphold the University’s integrity; and processes that respond to faculty, staff, and student input about University policies and procedures.

Policies Related to Integrity

Several University-wide policies and statements support the institution’s commitment to integrity.

Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment

The University as a whole and each campus unit have significantly revised the Policy on Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment since reaccreditation in 2000. Key changes are articulated in SPG 201.65-1, focused on transparency, integrity of scholarship, and independence in pursuit of the University’s mission. It states that all faculty and staff members are to act with honesty, integrity, and in the best interest of the University when performing their duties, and to abide by the highest standards of research, educational, professional, and fiscal conduct. Faculty and staff must not use their official University positions or influence to further gain or advancement for themselves, parents, siblings, spouse or partner, children, dependent relatives, or other personal associates at the expense of the University.

University Statement on Stewardship

The Statement on Stewardship outlines the responsibilities of supervisory or administrative employees to ensure that legal and financial obligations to internal and external stakeholders are fulfilled; that financial, human, information and physical assets are safeguarded; and that all members of the University community contribute to the excellence of the University.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Students who choose to attend the University accept the rights and responsibilities of membership in an academic and social community, and are expected to uphold the values of that community in their conduct. Some schools, colleges, student organizations, and other campus entities have developed policies that govern student behavior, define procedures for reviewing alleged violations of those policies, and decide on appropriate sanctions for violations. The DSA’s Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities complements rather than supplants unit-level policies, and provides guidance on ways to educate students engaged in problematic behavior and to safeguard members of the community.

Academic Integrity Policies for Students

Each school and college has academic integrity policies and/or honor codes (see Honor Codes at the University of Michigan). The Rackham Graduate School’s “Policy Statement on the Integrity of Scholarship and Procedures for Investigating Allegations of Misconduct in the Pursuit of Scholarship & Research” applies to students enrolled in Rackham programs.

Academic Integrity Policies for Faculty

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) maintains policies to which faculty and staff members must adhere in carrying out their responsibilities. (See the policy statement on “Integrity of Scholarship.”) The document Procedures for Investigating Allegations of Misconduct in the Pursuit of Scholarship and Research, states in Section I.A:

Integrity in scholarship and teaching is a fundamental value upon which the University is founded. Without integrity, we could not justify the privilege of academic freedom intrinsic to scholarship and education, nor could we provide to society the advancements of knowledge that derive from free and open inquiry.

It is the shared responsibility of all members of our academic community to assure that the University of Michigan maintains the trust of the public in all research and scholarly activity. Academic misconduct is dealt with in a timely and effective manner to preserve the high standards and good reputation of the University.

Use and Care of Animals in Research

University policy and federal law require the University to ensure humane treatment and judicious use of vertebrate animals. The University Committee on Use and Care of Animals (UCUCA) reviews applications for using vertebrate animals in research, testing, or instruction; inspects animal facilities and laboratories; and trains and guides employees in the use and care of animals. UCUCA office staff and committee members collaborate in these efforts.

Human Subjects Protection

The Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) is an integrated, institution-wide program of OVPR in collaboration with the provost, the EVPMA, the EVPCFO, and the general counsel. Nine Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are maintained for human subjects research, and several additional committees provide research review (e.g., the Institutional Biosafety Committee, the Conflict of Interest Review Committees, the Radiation Policy Committee, the Investigational Drug Service, the Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Michigan Clinical Research Unit, the Biomedical Engineering Unit, and the Tissue Procurement Service). The Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs granted full accreditation to the University of Michigan in 2008, signaling that that the University demonstrates safeguards beyond the threshold of state and federal requirements.

Education, Training and Resources to Promote Integrity and Prevent Violations

Activities to educate, train, and provide resources to faculty, staff, and students regarding integrity include:

  • Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment Tutorials. The provost’s office maintains a tutorial for faculty and a tutorial for staff regarding conflicts of interest and commitment, encouraging units to use these tutorials in their required unit policy implementation.
  • The Program for Education and Evaluation in Responsible Research and Scholarship (PEERRS), run by OVPR in consultation with other units on campus, offers educational modules and short tests covering basic rules, procedures, and professional norms for the responsible conduct of research and scholarship.
  • Academic Integrity Resources. The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) and the University Library maintain a list of resources on academic integrity and principles, including information on violations of academic integrity, ideas for faculty and staff members to help prevent and detect plagiarism, and guidance for students using digital resources in their research.

Auditing and Monitoring the University’s Integrity

Leaders, managers, supervisors, and all University employees are accountable to be familiar with and observe University policies and practices. Formalized auditing structures provide central oversight as follows:

Office of University Audits

The Office of University Audits provides independent auditing, consulting, and training for managers and leaders, balancing the desire to operate efficiently with the need to identify, assess, and control risk. University Audits collaborates with managers and submits reports to the Board of Regents. It conducts financial, compliance, investigation, and operational audits, and reviews Annual Audit Plans, Management Requests, Fraud or Special Investigations, Risk and Control Assessments, and other functions. It prepares a plan of audit projects for each fiscal year, and its three work teams (campus operations, information technology, and medical operations) coordinate staff and resources to provide necessary audit coverage.

Office of Internal Controls - Business & Finance

The Office of Internal Controls is operated by the CFO to guide, provide support tools and documents, and help units across campus manage financial processes. Internal controls provide assurance that units at the University meet specific objectives for fiscal responsibility: effectiveness and efficiency of operations, compliance with laws and regulations, and reliability of financial reporting. Each year, the office asks more than 40 units to certify their status on policies and practices related to internal controls.

External Audits

The University is independently audited by accounting firms; federal, state, and local agencies; and other entities. The executive director of the Office of University Audits is notified of all such audits, and where appropriate, helps coordinate the independent review. All reports of independent audits are forwarded to the audits office.

Health and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Research Boards

The Health and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) assure the rights and welfare of human subjects participating in biomedical and behavioral research. The IRBs support the design and conduct of sound research by investigators in pursuit of the mission to develop and disseminate new knowledge in the public interest. The welfare and rights of human subjects take precedence over the goals and requirements of research.

Medical Institutional Research Boards

The five Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) oversee research conducted by Medical School faculty, students, and staff at any University of Michigan Health System facility or site. The IRBs apply federal and state laws as well as University policies and ethical principles, particularly as articulated in “Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research,” published by the National Institutes of Health.

Conflict Resolution and Grievance Processes

A full set of services for faculty, staff, and students is provided to explain individual and University rights and responsibilities, including ombuds and mediation services. Individuals can challenge the University if they believe their rights have been violated, the right of due process hasn’t been carried out, or the University has not adhered to its own standards or procedures. The University is firmly committed to treating faculty, staff, and students with fairness and respect, and to continuous review of its policies and practices.

Ombuds Services

The University offers a range of ombuds services to faculty and students that provides members of the campus community with individual assistance in resolving concerns and addressing issues regarding rights and responsibilities. These services are:

  • The Student Ombuds of the Division of Student Affairs provides students with a place to explore concerns and complaints in a confidential, informal, and safe environment. The office offers informal dispute resolution services, resources and referrals, and help for students to understand their rights and available options. The ombuds operates independently with no formal decision-making authority, providing supplemental services to administrative and formal dispute resolution processes. The ombuds advocates not for the student or the University, but for fair and consistent treatment.
  • Rackham Graduate School Dispute Resolution. The office of Graduate Student Affairs in the Rackham Graduate School offers formal and informal dispute resolution services, resources and referrals, and alternative resolutions, in consultation with other offices as appropriate.
  • School and College Faculty Ombuds. Faculty ombuds can be appointed in the schools and colleges, with the Faculty Senate Office as coordinator. Faculty ombuds are either elected or appointed, and provide confidential and impartial assistance through good faith efforts to resolve issues, inform and counsel, and help faculty members explore options for raising concerns, problems, and complaints.
  • The Office of the Provost created the University Faculty Ombuds in 2003 to appraise situations and advocate for fairness and equity in institutional level policies, processes, and procedures. The University faculty ombuds works with the faculty ombuds in schools and colleges to facilitate resolution of faculty problems and complaints. He or she can also work directly with faculty members by investigating their complaints, academic dilemmas, or conflicts, and by helping them to address their concerns.

Mediation Services for Faculty and Staff

  • Mediation Services for Faculty and Staff offers free private consultation, attempts to mediate issues or problems, and educates involved parties about conflict resolution. Its staff provides a safe harbor to discuss workplace concerns off-the-record, and to explore alternatives for addressing them. Mediation helps two of more people in conflict resolve their differences collaboratively. It is voluntary and not legally binding, is facilitated by trained mediators, and provides a safe, structured setting in which to address problems and consider constructive outcomes.
  • The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP) offers services to staff, faculty, and their immediate family members regarding personal, emotional, family, and work place issues.

Formal Grievance Procedures for Faculty, Staff and Students

Faculty, staff, and students have the right to file grievances on unresolved matters, as described below:

  • Faculty Grievance Procedures. Each school or college has formal faculty grievance procedures based on a model policy, available to faculty members who wish to file a complaint concerning the terms and conditions of their employment or possible unfair or illegal decisions concerning an aspect of their employment. An ad hoc group appointed by the provost and led by a senior member of the faculty has proposed revisions that are currently under review.
  • Staff Grievance Procedures. The Standard Practice Guide’s Grievance Procedures and Dispute Resolution defines the procedures staff may use to file a grievance. Any employee may file a grievance on matters associated with his or her employment, to resolve misunderstandings and maintain positive work relationships.
  • Student Conflict Resolution Services. The Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR) files charges against students who have allegedly violated the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities, and provides a formal process for students to respond to such charges. OSCR also provides a formal resolution process for students to file complaints.