Code of Ethics

57.01.2 Code of Ethics

August 24, 2023

All members of the Board and employees of the System and its universities are expected to adhere to the System code of ethics and obey all federal, state, and local laws. Employees are subject to disciplinary action for violating the code of ethics or laws, as well as any applicable civil or criminal penalties for law violations.

All members of the Board and employees of the System and its universities shall be furnished a copy of the code of ethics and Texas Government Code Section 572.051 within three (3) business days after the start of employment or commencement of service and shall receive regular training on such laws and policies.

All members of the Board shall annually sign conflict of interest certification statements affirming their compliance with their official oath and specific provisions of Texas statutes related to ethical behavior.

  1. General Standards of Conduct
    1. No Board member or employee shall accept or solicit any gift, favor, or service that might reasonably tend to influence them in the discharge of official duties or that they know or should know is being offered with the intent to influence their official conduct.
    2. No Board member or employee shall use their position to secure special privileges or exemptions for themselves or others, except as is allowed by law.
    3. No Board member or employee shall accept other employment or compensation that could reasonably be expected to impair their independence of judgment in the performance of their official duties.
    4. No Board member or employee shall intentionally or knowingly solicit, accept, or agree to accept any benefit for having exercised their official powers or performed their official duties in favor of another.
    5. No Board member or employee who exercises discretion in connection with contracts, purchases, payments, claims, or other pecuniary transactions shall solicit, accept, or agree to accept any benefit from a person or entity the employee knows or should know is or is likely to become financially interested in such transactions.
    6. No Board member or employee shall receive any compensation for their services to the System from any source other than the State of Texas except as is allowed by law.
    7. No Board member or employee shall accept other employment or engage in any business or professional activity that foreseeably might require or induce them to disclose confidential information acquired by reason of their official position.
    8. No Board member or employee shall disclose without authorization confidential information gained by reason of their official position, nor shall they otherwise use such information for their personal gain or benefit.
    9. No Board member or employee shall engage in any form of sexual harassment as stated in Board policy 29.02 and System and University policies.
  2. Conflict of Interest – Board members/Employees
    1. No Board member or employee shall make personal investments in any enterprise that foreseeably might create a substantial conflict between their private interests and the System’s interests.
    2. No Board member or employee shall transact any business for the System with any entity of which they are an officer, agent, employee, or member, or in which they have a direct or indirect financial or other interest.
    3. No Board member or employee shall act as an agent for another person in the negotiation of the terms of an agreement relating to the provision of money, services, or property to the System or any of its universities.
  3. Conflict of Interest – Employees
    1. Any employee involved in procurement or contract management shall disclose in the manner specified in the System policy any potential conflict of interest that is known by the Board member or employee with respect to any contract with a private vendor or bid for the purchase of goods or services from a private vendor with the University.
    2. No employee shall have a direct or indirect financial or other interest, shall engage in a business transaction or professional activity, or shall incur any obligation that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of the employee’s duties and responsibilities to the System.
    3. The University shall not accept a gift, grant, donation, or other consideration to be used as a salary supplement without the prior written approval of the proposed recipient's immediate supervisor, the Dean or Vice President overseeing the college or division employing the proposed recipient, the Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs/General Counsel, the President, and the Chief Audit Executive.
  4. Conflict of Commitment. No employee's activities outside the System shall interfere with their duties and responsibilities to the System.
  5. Use of University Resources. The resources of the University shall be used only in accordance with university policies and applicable law.
  6. Outside Activities

    Full-time exempt employees may engage in outside professional activities, provided such activities benefit the System and/or contribute to the professional development of the individual.

    This privilege is subject in all instances to the conditions set forth below. Failure to comply with this policy may subject an employee to disciplinary action including reprimand, suspension, or termination.
    1. The first responsibility of the individual is to the System, and outside professional commitments must not interfere with the employee’s full-time responsibility to the System.
    2. No outside obligation should result in any conflict of interest or conflict of commitment involving the individual’s duties and responsibilities to the System or to its programs, policies, and objectives. Outside activities that represent actual or potential conflicts of interest or commitment must be avoided.
    3. Use of System facilities, space, equipment, or support staff for outside activities is permitted only if a financial arrangement has been concluded between the individual and the administration prior to the individual beginning the outside activity.
    4. Individuals may not represent themselves as acting in the capacity of System employees when conducting outside activities. The System bears no responsibility for any actual or implied obligations or liabilities incurred by the individual resulting from an outside activity.
    5. Full-time exempt employees who wish to arrange outside activities must obtain prior written approval under the process established by the Chancellor. Review of such activities will include consideration of any real or apparent conflict of interest or conflict of commitment and the benefit of the proposed service to the System and the University and/or the professional development of the employee. Each full-time exempt employee who engages in an outside professional activity, including teaching on a temporary basis at other institutions, must ensure that such activities generally be not more than 8 hours per calendar week, and in no event exceed a maximum of 32 hours per month and must arrange such activities so as not to interfere with their System obligations, such as regularly scheduled classes.
    6. When any of an individual’s salary is paid from funds for externally sponsored activities, the time allowable for outside activities must comply with sponsor requirements.

    The Chancellor will establish a process for monitoring outside activities of full-time exempt employees, including but not limited to compensated employment and board service, to ensure that such activities are consistent with the above policy.
  7. Outside Employment or Appointments of Executive Officers

    The Chancellor and Executive Officers of the System Administration and the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the Universities may become members of a Board of Directors, Trustees, Regents, or of a corporation or institution’s Governing Body by whatever name, if the position: 1) is of benefit to the state or is required by state or federal law, and 2) creates no conflict of interest or conflict of commitment. Such service will usually be deemed to be in the best interest of the University of Houston System. Approval procedures for these positions will be as follows:
    1. The Board should be informed of a non-compensated appointment of the Chancellor or a President of any institution, including a statement that the appointment meets the two requirements stated above.
    2. Prior to the Chancellor or a President accepting an invitation to serve in an additional position that includes compensation greater than $25,000. The Board must approve this appointment and must also make an official record of the compensation, including salary, bonus, per diem or other types of compensation. The Board should be informed of appointments to compensated Boards below the $25,000 threshold.
    3. Compensation is defined as remuneration for services rendered and does not include reimbursement of expenses whether by direct reimbursement or per diem.
    4. The Board delegates to the Chancellor the authority to approve outside employment or appointments for the Vice-Chancellors of the system and each President is delegated the authority to approve for their Vice-Presidents, in compliance with the requirements stated above.