The University operates under a charter granted by the state of Connecticut and the By-Laws of the University as last amended at the annual meeting of the Board of Trustees in May 2006. At the public annual meeting, the University conducts its business including the election of trustees, officers of the Board, appointment of senior administrators, faculty promotion to tenure, the approval of its budget and other expenditures, and the conferral of all degrees as required by the by-laws. Faculty and students participate in University governance through their own governance structures as stipulated in their by-laws and as required through the By-Laws of the University.
Standards of Conduct
Wesleyan is committed to the principle of academic freedom and the free and open exchange of ideas. It strives, throughout, to be ethical in its operation to ensure the highest quality environment within our community for teaching, learning and scholarship.
The University has clear standards for the ethical behavior of all of its members and is clear about the responsibility of each member of the community to the larger Wesleyan community. For example, codes of conduct are clearly defined in the statement on academic freedom and responsibilities of the University and in the Honor Code, the Code of Non-Academic Conduct and the Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students. These standards are published on the University Web site and in publications that are distributed to the different campus constituents. The Faculty Handbook is a guide to University governance, standards of conduct, faculty governance, Academic Council and its committees, policies of the Office of Academic Affairs and faculty benefits. Wesleyan publishes a Student Handbook that addresses, among other items, academic regulations, academic and campus life resources, student activities and governance, student conduct, and University polices. A handbook for staff and administrators contains University policies and standards. Trustees complete a conflict of interest certificate and a certificate of anti-trust compliance annually.
The University periodically reviews its policies. For example, a task force recently identified ways to strengthen the effectiveness of the University’s Honor Code and Code of Non-Academic Conduct.
Our policies set forth clearly the expectation that all members of the Wesleyan community respect the rights and privileges of all other members of the community. Our documents also include the procedures for adjudicating disputes, both academic and nonacademic, among members of the community.
Comprehensive summaries of judicial cases associated with violations both of the Honor Code and the Code on Non-Academic conduct are widely distributed via the Web. All new students are introduced to the Honor Code through a required session in orientation, followed by a signed affirmation to accept the responsibility to adhere to the code and to take “constructive action” when there is awareness of violations of the code. In addition, students may be asked to sign a pledge of “no aid, no violations” on specific formal academic exercises.
The University articulates and adheres to nondiscriminatory policies and practices and goes beyond nondiscrimination in an effort to create an environment that is welcoming of difference. Our Standards of Conduct expressly prohibit “discrimination against any person on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or national or ethnic origin in any activity administered by the University.” The Office of Affirmative Action is responsible for oversight of our nondiscrimination policy as well as helping the community develop policies and practices to help create an open and civil society on campus.
While Wesleyan has a good overall record of diversity in its admissions and hiring decisions, we are constantly looking for ways to achieve greater success in this area, which we believe to be crucially linked to our academic strength. For example, Wesleyan's strategic plan for the sciences emphasizes the need to remain attentive to issues of diversity in the sciences, both with regard to students and faculty. While Wesleyan has been successful in providing opportunities for women to study science—approximately 59 percent of our science majors are women—we do not believe this success can continue if we fail to ensure the continuing presence of women within the faculty in the natural sciences and mathematics. Moreover, despite consistent outreach, Wesleyan sees relatively few applications from scientists of color—a situation that is regrettably typical in higher education. A task force of science faculty undertook a study of inadvertent biases that can affect recruiting processes and hiring decisions; all search committees now are briefed on ways to avoid these biases. As we see gradual improvements in the pipeline for scientists of color, we anticipate that these and similar strategies can help us achieve greater racial and ethnic diversity.
The University conforms to all state and federal statutes as they pertain to the privacy rights of the members of the community.