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The university is committed to maintaining the highest professional standards in all of its academic and administrative operations; promoting ethical practices among its administrators, faculty, staff, and students; and ensuring a level of accountability appropriate for a public institution. Individuals are expected to obey all federal, state, and local laws including, but not limited to, those pertaining to equal opportunity, nondiscrimination, harassment, ethics and lobbying.  

UNCW Ethics Policy 02.310.


There are a number of North Carolina laws that address ethical conduct at state institutions like UNCW. The North Carolina State Ethics Commission maintains a directory of applicable laws and rules, in addition to formal advisory opinions on various ethics issues. UNCW’s Office of General Counsel website also contains resources on ethics compliance, including guidance related to gifts, financial disclosures, and misuse of state property.

The State Government Ethics Act (N.C.G.S. Chapter 163A, Article 5) requires each State agency to designate an ethics liaison, who maintains communication with the State Ethics Commission on ethical issues and transmits relevant information to other employees. A full list of duties and responsibilities is available on the State Ethics Commission website. UNCW's ethics liaison to the State Ethics Commission is General Counsel John Scherer.

Standards and Expectations

UNCW, the UNC System, and the State of North Carolina maintain ethical standards that apply to faculty, staff, and students. At the university level, the UNCW Ethics Policy (02.310) addresses expectations for ethical practices and maintaining accountability, which includes obeying all applicable laws and policies, avoiding conflicts of interest, and conducting oneself appropriately in the carrying out of university business.

Other UNCW policies establish minimum standards of conduct for particular subject areas. Members of the UNCW community are expected to become familiar with, and abide by, policies applicable to them. These policies cover, for example, the responsible use of electronic resources, discrimination and harassment, sexual misconduct, improper relationships between staff and students, misuse of state property, academic freedom and tenure, freedom of expression, diversity in the university community, research misconduct, the protection of human subjects, and conflicts of interest. Student academic integrity standards are explained at length in the Student Academic Honor Code, which is administered by the Office of the Dean of Students.

Members of the university community are encouraged to consult with appropriate university departments for clarification of law, policy, and ethical standards.

Annual Filings

Members of the UNCW Board of Trustees, the Chancellor, and the Vice Chancellors are considered “covered persons” under the State Government Ethics Act. These individuals are required to file annual Statements of Economic Interests (except for the Student Body President) and attend ethics education and awareness sessions. 

All faculty and EHRA professional employees must complete an Annual Conflict of Interest Disclosure. This disclosure can be completed through an online disclosure management system. Annual disclosure is stipulated by UNCW’s Ethics Policy 02.310 and Policy 03.230 Conflict of Interest or Commitment and is a condition of employment for all Faculty and EHRA staff. More information can be found on the Research Integrity Office Conflict of Interest website.

Protection for Reporting Concerns; How to Report

UNCW is committed to creating an environment that encourages the reporting of concerns and that protects employees who report. North Carolina law prohibits retaliation against employees who, in good faith, report unethical activity. N.C.G.S. § 126-84 encourages employees to report evidence of activities that include a violation of law, fraud, misappropriation of State resources, gross misuse or mismanagement of monies, or abuse of authority.

Individuals who have concerns about another’s conduct or the propriety of a given situation should: 1) consult with the director of the office responsible for the educational or administrative function at issue; or 2) notify their department chair, dean, director, or an administrator in their supervisory chain at a level sufficient to allow objectivity in evaluating the subject of concern.

The Office of Internal Audit at UNCW maintains an anonymous reporting tool to facilitate reporting of allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement of funds. Concerns about ethical practices may also be reported anonymously to the State Auditor’s Fraud and Abuse Hotline by calling 1-800-730-8477 or filing a complaint online at