Chapter 1: Introduction: The Importance of Codes of Conduct for Academia

Chapter 2: Toward a Code of Conduct for the Presidency

Tenets for a Code of Conduct

Rules of Competence

Rules of Performance

Rules of Loyalty

Inaugurating a Presidential Code of Conduct


Chapter 3: Follow the Code: Rules or Guidelines for Academic Deans’ Behavior?

Norms for Academic Deans

Code of Conduct for Academic Deans

Where to Go from Here?


Chapter 4: A Normative Code of Conduct for Admissions Officers

A Code of Conduct for Admissions Officers

Implementing the Code of Conduct


Chapter 5: College and University Codes of Conduct for Fund-Raising Professionals

Fund-Raising Codes of Conduct

Fund-Raising Norms

Protection of Clients

Difference Between Junior and Experienced Fund-Raisers

Institutional Codes of Conduct


Chapter 6: Toward a Code of Conduct for Graduate Education

What Do Codes of Conduct Say about Faculty–Graduate Student Relations?

Why Should Codes of Conduct Address the Relations of Graduate Faculty and Students?

What Would a Code of Conduct for Faculty–Graduate Student Relations Address?

The Graduate Faculty Member as Teacher

The Graduate Faculty Member as Supervisor

The Graduate Faculty Member as Mentor

The Graduate Faculty Member as Thesis Supervisor

What Would a Code of Conduct for Graduate Faculty Look Like?

A Sample Scholarly Society Code for Graduate Faculty


Chapter 7: The Existence of Codes of Conduct for Undergraduate Teaching in Teaching-Oriented Four-Year Colleges and Universities

Conceptual Framework





Recommendations for Institutional Action and Future Research

Chapter 8: Organizational Constraints and Possibilities Regarding Codes of Conduct

The Rationale for Codes of Ethics in a Contemporary Context

Ethical Codes as Social Group Norms

Professional and Disciplinary Codes of Ethics in Higher Education

Isomorphic Pressures and the Migration toward Normative Codes of Ethics

Constraints and Possibilities


Chapter 9: Reflections on Codes of Conduct: Asymmetries, Vulnerabilities, and Institutional Controls

Current Empirical Understanding of Codes of Conduct

Asymmetries and Vulnerabilities

Issues and Recommendations to Address Asymmetries and Vulnerabilities




Chapter 1

Introduction: The Importance of Codes of Conduct for Academia

John M. Braxton, Nathaniel J. Bray

This chapter emphasizes the importance of codes of conduct to guide the professional role performance of presidents, academic deans, admissions officers, fund-raising professionals, and faculty who teach undergraduate and graduate students.

Colleges and universities function as client-serving organizations (Baldridge et al. 1978). The clients served range from prospective donors, prospective students, the individual college or university, faculty members, students as groups, and students as individuals to the knowledge base of the various academic disciplines (Braxton 2010).

Such critical role positions as the presidency, the academic deanship, admissions officers, institutional advancement officers, and faculty members serve one or more of these various clients (Braxton 2010). The occupants of such critical role positions experience role ambiguity or substantial autonomy in the performance of their roles. For example, Birnbaum and Eckel (2005) posit that presidents experience role ambiguity and uncertainty over the way their roles should be performed. Likewise Wolverton, Wolverton, and Gmelch (1999) contend that academic deans also experience role ambiguity and uncertainty. College admissions officers (Hodum and James 2010), institutional advancement officers (Caboni 2010), and college and university faculty members possess considerable autonomy in the performance of their respective roles in both undergraduate teaching (Braxton and Bayer 1999) and graduate teaching and mentoring (Braxton, Proper, and Bayer 2011).

Both role ambiguity and role autonomy strongly indicate the need for formal or informal codes of conduct to protect the welfare of the various clients served by these critical role positions (Braxton 2010). Without the existence of formal or informal codes of conduct to provide guidelines for the performance of these roles, college presidents, academic deans, admissions officers, institutional advancement officers, and individual college and university faculty members are free to make unconstrained and idiosyncratic choices in the performance of their respective roles (Braxton 2010).

In addition to providing parameters for the professional choices of individuals in critical role positions in higher education, codes of conduct also assist the academy in professional self-regulation. William Goode (1969) asserts that the lay public grants professions autonomy in exchange for professional self-regulation. Professional self-regulation entails the exercise of social control of wrongdoing through the deterrence, detection, and sanctioning of professional impropriety (Zuckerman 1988). Codes of conduct play a key part in these three mechanisms of social control.

Accordingly, this issue of New Directions for Higher Education focuses on two key issues regarding codes of conduct: the construction of codes of conduct and the existence of codes of conduct in academia. Five chapters of this issue propose tenets for the construction of codes of conduct for such critical role positions as the presidency, the academic deanship, admissions officers, institutional advancement officers, and the graduate teaching and mentoring role of university faculty members. The tenets advanced by each of these chapters rest on a robust foundation of empirically derived normative structures for these critical roles. Norms are shared beliefs of a particular social or professional group that focus on expected or desired behaviors in various professional situations and circumstances (Gibbs 1981; Rossi and Berk 1985). Further clarity comes from Merton’s definition of norms as prescribed or proscribed patterns of behavior (Merton 1968, 1973).

These five chapters are as follows. In chapter 2, titled “Toward a Code of Conduct for the Presidency,” J. Christopher Fleming, proposes eight tenets for a code of conduct for the presidency of colleges and universities. Such a code of conduct safeguards the welfare of clients both external and internal to the president’s college or university. Nathaniel J. Bray describes six tenets for academic deans in the third chapter, which bears the title “Follow the Code: Rules or Guidelines for Academic Deans’ Behavior?” The clients affected by the role performance of academic deans include the institution, the academic college, and the faculty (Braxton 2010). In the fourth chapter titled “A Normative Code of Conduct for Admissions Officers,” Robert L. Hodum delineates nine tenets toward a code of conduct for college and university admissions officers. Such a proposed code protects the welfare of such clients as the prospective student, the parents of prospective students, and the institution of employment. In the fifth chapter, Timothy C. Caboni discerns nine tenets for a code of conduct for institutional advancement officers. Such a code of conduct safeguards the welfare of such clients as the donor and the institution. The title of his chapter is “College and University Codes of Conduct for Fund-Raising Professionals.” In the last of this set of five chapters, Eve Proper outlines six tenets of a possible code of conduct for graduate faculty members to guide them in teaching and mentoring graduate students. The title of this sixth chapter is “Toward a Code of Conduct for Graduate Education.” The tenets described by Proper shelter the welfare of such diverse clients as graduate students, the institution, and academic disciplines.

As previously indicated, the existence of codes of conduct constitutes another issue addressed by this volume. In chapter 7, Dawn Lyken-Segosebe, Yunkyung Min, and John M. Braxton report the findings of study conducted to determine if codes of conduct for undergraduate college teaching exist in teaching-oriented colleges and universities. The title of their chapter is aptly labeled “The Existence of Codes of Conduct for Undergraduate Teaching in Teaching-Oriented Four-Year Colleges and Universities.”

In addition to the construction and existence of codes of conduct, this volume would be incomplete without a thorough discussion of the various issues colleges and universities as organization face in adopting codes of conduct. Nathaniel J. Bray, Danielle K. Molina, and Bart A. Swecker present a thorough consideration of such related topics as the rationale for ethical codes, an overview of the organizational principles underlying their development and functioning, the ways in which ethical codes function as organizational anchors for key constituent groups in higher education, the constraints of institutional structures, and the possibilities for the development of codes of conduct in higher education. The title of this eighth chapter is “Organizational Constraints and Possibilities Regarding Codes of Conduct.”

The last chapter of this volume is titled “Reflections on Codes of Conduct: Asymmetries, Vulnerabilities, and Institutional Controls” and is written by Nathaniel J. Bray and John M. Braxton. This final chapter focuses upon trends seen in the empirically derived codes of conduct that have been developed to this point. They present a detailed consideration of the asymmetries that exist in both positional and professional authority, the relations between main campus stakeholders, and the vulnerabilities that are presented by power differentials in both schemata. The work concludes with a discussion of the detection, sanctioning, and deterrence of normative violations.


Baldridge, J., D. Curtis, G. Ecker, and G. Riley. 1978. Policy Making and Effective Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Birnbaum, R., and P. D. Eckel. 2005. “The Dilemma of Presidential Leadership.” In American Higher Education in the Twenty First Century: Social, Political, and Economic Challenges, edited by P. G. Altbach, R. O. Berdahl, and P. J. Gumport. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Braxton, J. 2010. “Norms and the Work of Colleges and Universities: Introduction to the Special Issue-Norms in Academia.” Journal of Higher Education 81(3): 243–250.

Braxton, J. M., and A. E. Bayer. 1999. Faculty Misconduct in Collegiate Teaching. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Braxton, J. M., E. Proper, and A. E. Bayer. 2011. Professors Behaving Badly: Faculty Misconduct in Graduate Education. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Caboni, T. C. 2010. “The Normative Structure of College and University Fundraising Behaviors.” Journal of Higher Education 81(3): 339–365.

Gibbs, J. 1981. Norms, Deviance, and Social Control: Conceptual Matters. New York: Elsevier.

Goode, W. 1969. “The Theoretical Limits of Professionalization.” In The Semi-Professions and Their Organization, edited by A. Etzioni. New York: Free Press.

Hodum, R. L., and G. W. James. 2010. “An Observation of Normative Structure for Colleges Admission and Recruitment Officers.” Journal of Higher Education 81(3): 317–338.

Merton, R. 1968. Social Theory and Social Structure. New York: Free Press.

Merton, R. 1973. The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Rossi, P., and R. Berk. 1985. “Varieties of Normative Consensus.” American Sociological Review 50(3): 333–347.

Wolverton, M., M. L. Wolverton, and W. H. Gmelch. 1999. “The Impact of Role Conflict and Ambiguity on Academic Deans.” Journal of Higher Education 70(1): 80–106.

Zuckerman, H. 1988. “The Sociology of Science.” In Handbook of Sociology, edited by N. Smelser. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

John M. Braxton is professor of education in the Higher Education Leadership and Policy Program at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Professor Braxton’s scholarly interests include social control in academia with a particular focus on codes of conduct; norms; and the deterrence, detection, and sanctioning of violations of codes and norms.

Nathaniel J. Bray is an associate professor and program coordinator in Higher Education Administration at the University of Alabama. His research interests include normative structures for academic administrators, sociology of higher education, and student issues across higher education.

Chapter 2

Toward a Code of Conduct for the Presidency

J. Christopher Fleming

College and university presidents serve clients who are internal and external to their institution. This chapter describes eight tenets toward a code of conduct for college and university presidents that safeguards the welfare of the clients served.

The cooperative engagement between college presidents and faculty is germane to the cultivation of healthy associations between the faculty and institutional governing boards. This cyclical relationship between president, faculty, and the board is a critical element in sustaining institutional productivity and efficacy (Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges 2009). However, the continuous evolution of American postsecondary institutions has fostered questions regarding the changing ethos of the academy, which has challenged the traditional notion of the community of students and scholars and intertwined the academy’s customary paradigms of governance with the principles of business (Lachs 2011).

Academic culture and governance of the academy are maintained through the balance of the shared governance structures. Presidents occupy a central position in maintaining the stability of the governance arrangement. Faculty share in the decision-making processes of the academy (Johnston 2003), manage the legitimacy of the president (Bensimon 1991), and maintain oversight of administration’s compliance with the institution’s mission and values (Bornstein 2003; Bray 2003; Olscamp 2003). However, American colleges and universities are changing and as a result so are their presidents.

The chronicled history of higher education provides testimony to the professional evolution of the college and university president as the office has matured into the academy’s public face and the principal decision-making locus within the modern postsecondary institutional structure. Although the academy presidency has been in existence for centuries (Prator 1963), the highest executive position on American college and university campuses remains ambiguous and a managerial enigma.

The lack of understanding regarding the office of president is perplexing and has brought about many of the misunderstandings attributed to the campus’ chief executive office. Challenges concerning the president’s importance and role (Ward 2002) have been abundant (Birnbaum 1989). However, despite the criticisms and inquiries of purpose, the academy presidency has endured and emerged as a key role in the promotion and communication of the institutional mission (Birnbaum 2002) and the public reflection of the academy’s character and values (Romesburg 2010). Prator (1963, 27) notes, “No person on the college campus is more nearly the interpreter of the philosophy of the campus than is the president.”

Decades after Prator’s observation, the role of the president as the institutional values bearer continues to hold true. The Association of Governing Boards reports, “In public venues, a president’s words and actions almost always are taken as expressions of the institution’s identity” (Romesburg 2010, 2). Time and research have revealed that the academy president is a pivotal herald within the higher education hierarchy. Because presidents are the chief institutional spokesperson (Balderston 1995) and the symbolic representation of the academy, it stands to reason that they become the target for so much criticism (Dennison 2001; Romesburg 2010).

Concerns regarding alleged improprieties have not always been an inherent trait associated with postsecondary institution chief executive officers. Dennison (2001, 269) declares that the admiration of modern university presidents has diminished. Long gone is the “warm glow of admiring public opinion; fifty years earlier real giants ruled the campuses.” Walker (1981) explains that behavioral improprieties are not consistently brought to light within the academic community. Across higher education institutions there are standardized norms that dictate capitulation to specific academic values and guidelines. However, modern academy presidents have received increased attention due to their public nature and prominent community engagement.

Despite the frequency of purported inappropriate behavior concerning administrative firings and reclassifications of staff (Stripling 2012); moral misconduct (McGill, Assad, and Sheehan 2011; Van Der Werf 1999); malfeasance (Welte 2003); financial mismanagement (Rogers and Tresaugue 2008); disregard of the principle of academic values (Lester 2010); unbecoming behavior (Fain 2008; Guess 2007); and failure to maintain proper autonomy and shared governance principles (Hebel 2012; Masterson 2009) by academy presidents, the number of higher education institutions that have developed a code of ethics for their presidents continues to be few (Fleming 2010). Varying implicit organizational theories conflict with the conceptual ideals institutional constituencies have of the organization’s purpose (Birnbaum 1988; Boschken 1994). The cacophony of dueling ideologies originates from individual or association interests of institutional enclaves and perpetuates the conceptual ambiguity inherent in the roles of the academy presidency (Neumann and Bensimon 1990).

In his historical narrative of American higher education, Prator (1963) traces the evolutionary development of colleges and universities to the newly developed colonial states. Although the president functions as the chief envoy of the institution (Balderston 1995), the occupant of the office of president must be skillful at developing and cultivating domestic relationships and peripheral associations vital to the academy’s systemic and strategic success. Colleges and universities are social institutions (Cohen and March 1974) that maintain a social culture regulating the interactions of their constituencies. As the chief executive officer, the president is a predominant figure in the advancement and communication of the institutional narrative, it is his or her responsibility to bring together assorted and divergent perspectives and ideologies.

By cultivating relationships with the institution’s various constituencies, the president navigates numerous expectations and works to engender support (Koch and Fisher 1996). Bornstein (2003) states that the lack of a congruent relationship with internal and external institutional constituents reduces the president’s ability to establish legitimacy and support. Although presidents have numerous groups and associations vying for their support and attention, it is important to note that the president–faculty relationship is pivotal to establishing legitimacy and institutional success. Relationship management encourages avenues through which reciprocal communication may take place. The social construct of congruent relationships defines participant roles, establishes balance and value, and inspires continuous engagement for the eventual benefit of all (Wettersten and Lichtenberg 1995). As coalition builders, academy presidents must engage faculty, staff, students, alumni, boards, donors, and other community associations. Inherent within the president’s duties is the construction of mutually beneficial partnerships that enable the institution to bolster its academic reputation, increase its endowments, and expand its reach within the areas of research and service.

Fain (2006) argued that the most common obstacles to presidential success are the relationships that are nonexistent or underdeveloped. Bornstein (2003) accentuates the significance of relationship building in stipulating that the legitimacy of the college and university president remains correlated to the president’s ability to develop internal relationships, specifically with the faculty. Other scholars concur that the initiation and cultivation of relationships between presidents and their numerous and various constituencies are essential not only to the success of the president but also to the prosperity of the institution (Michael, Schwartz, and Balraj 2001; Olscamp 2003).

The construct of relationship building predicates that postsecondary institutions function within social interactional webs. In this particular case, academy presidents are centrally located within the organization’s social web of interactions. Due to the connectivity of the relational network, the behaviors demonstrated by the president reverberate throughout the entire organization. According to Wettersten and Lichtenberg (1995), relationship development is established on the mutual contextual constructs of the association and the delineation of roles within the interaction. President–constituency relationships should be established on clearly prescribed, mutually agreed-upon expectations and role responsibilities. The adherence to these established relational expectations cultivates interactions that are congruent and satisfying to each of the participants involved. The results of relational congruency stimulate clarity of expectations, interactive boundaries, and role performance.

The president–faculty relationship holds particular significance, as it is this relationship that serves as a barometer of presidential legitimacy and support within the academy constituency (Bensimon 1991; Birnbaum 1992; Bornstein 2003). Davis and Davis (1999) explain that postsecondary faculty occupy a strategic position within the academy structure: engaging the president and other institutional administrators in decisions concerning matters within the faculty purview.

Expectations concerning the normative pattern of behaviors are an intrinsic standard within professional and social groups, such as the professoriate (Braxton 2010). As the vast majority of academy presidents have emerged from the faculty ranks, the professoriate promulgates a certain code of ethics that must be clearly defined and articulated. Recent changes outlined in the demographic portrait of college and university presidents (American Council on Education 2012) reveal an increased percentage of nonacademic candidates ascending to the highest levels of leadership within colleges and universities. In addition, this report corroborates the fact that academy presidents continue to cite problematic areas such as faculty relations and the ambiguity of the presidential office. Increases in the number of college presidents arriving from outside the academy require that guidelines regulating the role performance of the presidency be clearly delineated and understood.

Recent research analysis focuses particular consideration on the significant internal relationships academy presidents must have with the professoriate. Current literature reveals that college and university faculty may exert significant influence on the level of presidential support and serve as key partners in the president’s vision (Fleming 2010). In addition, president–faculty relationships have been found to have a direct correlation to the welfare of the institution (Michael, Schwartz, and Balraj 2001; Olscamp 2003) and the chief executive officer’s ability to lead and manage successfully (Bensimon 1991). Although the importance of this dyadic relationship is unquestioned, the fact remains that little has been done to codify the president–faculty relationship in order to enhance its congruency.

Tenets for a Code of Conduct