Building Upon Our Ethical Culture: A Message From Interim President Thad Seymour Jr.
During my business career prior to becoming UCF’s interim president, many of the companies I worked for had a common philosophy: we don’t build our reputation, our customers do.
Our customers came to a sense of who we were and what we valued by their own experience with us, and they shared that opinion, good or bad, with others.
The reputation of a university is similar. Each experience students, employees, partners, and the community have with us, good and bad, forms an impression. An error in judgment or a mistake, even if it was made just once, can irreparably damage the reputation of the university and its employees.
As Warren Buffett succinctly put it, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
Organizations that maintain strong reputations foster an ethical culture.
What Is an Ethical Culture?
In a culture that supports ethical decision making:
- Ethics are involved in every decision. Even the smallest decision has a ripple effect that touches other people and places.
- Every action must be honest and fair. Our university’s reputation depends on all of us working safely, honestly, and legally.
- Ethical action goes beyond strict compliance. Compliance is the requirement. Promoting a culture of integrity, trust, and respect is the expectation.
- Ethical dialogue is encouraged. Talk openly in your work group and with management about how to improve awareness of ethical issues.
- Learning is constant. Keep abreast of changes in laws and regulations that affect our university.
Tools for an Ethical Culture
Our university provides the tools to support an ethical culture.
- Our Code of Conduct is a guide to making ethical decisions.
- There are multiple options to report observed or potential violations of our Code of Conduct or the law. If you have concerns, you can talk to your manager, upper management, University Compliance, Ethics and Risk or, in situations where you may be unsure of where to go or wish to remain anonymous, the anonymous UCF IntegrityLine. Know that retaliation against employees for reporting suspected misconduct is not tolerated by UCF.
- Experts are available if you need more detailed advice. Regulatory and ethical issues can be complex. Human Resources, General Counsel, University Audit, or University Compliance, Ethics, and Risk are available to help you untangle difficult situations.
Everyone is a Role Model
Ethical conduct is a top to bottom commitment in any organization. The executive leaders of this university — including myself and the Board of Trustees — are covered under the same Code of Conduct as anyone else who works at UCF.
All of us, regardless of position, have an obligation that extends beyond merely avoiding unethical behavior ourselves. We must report unethical behavior when we witness it. In this, we are all role models.
A Shared Commitment
When I was named interim president earlier this year, I laid out my top priorities, one of which was rebuilding trust. Since then, you’ve heard me talk about a shared commitment to accountability, transparency and strengthening a culture of ethics to make UCF better.
At its core, the Code of Conduct is about making UCF better. Because we care about this great organization, we owe it to those who depend on us to be good stewards of UCF. Our common culture demands nothing less.
Thank you for your commitment to ethics and integrity. Together, we are making UCF better.