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1.1.1 University Code of Conduct

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This Guide Memo was approved by the President.
Last Updated

Formerly Known As Policy Number: 1

This Guide Memo defines the University's Code of Conduct.


The Code applies to these groups of people, referred to as members of the Stanford University Community:

  • Faculty, staff, students and postdoctoral scholars of Stanford University;
  • Members of the Board of Trustees;
  • Consultants, contractors and others, when performing services for the University or interacting with members of the University Community, acting on behalf of the University, or otherwise required under contract to comply with this Code; and
  • Individuals who perform services for the University as volunteers.

1. Introduction and Purpose

a. Introduction

All members of the University Community are responsible for sustaining the high ethical standards of this institution, and of the broader community in which we function. The University values integrity, diversity, respect, freedom of inquiry and expression, trust, honesty and fairness and strives to integrate these values into its education, research, health care and business practices.

b. Purpose

In that spirit, this Code is a shared statement of our commitment to upholding the ethical, professional and legal standards we use as the basis for our daily and long-term decisions and actions. We all must be aware of and comply with the relevant policies, standards, laws and regulations that guide our work. We are each individually accountable for our own actions and, as members of the University Community, are collectively accountable for upholding these standards of behavior and for compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and policies.

2. Standards of Integrity and Quality

Stanford recognizes that it must earn and maintain a reputation for integrity that includes, but is not limited to, compliance with laws and regulations and its contractual obligations. Even the appearance of misconduct or impropriety can be damaging to the University. Stanford must strive at all times to maintain the highest standards of integrity and quality.

There are times when Stanford's business activities and other conduct of its University Community members are not governed by specific laws or regulations. In these instances, rules of fairness, honesty, and respect for the rights of others will govern our conduct at all times.

In addition, each individual is required to conduct University business transactions with the utmost honesty, accuracy and fairness. Each situation needs to be examined in accordance with this standard. No unethical practice can be tolerated, even if such practice is "customary" outside of Stanford or even if some of the goals it serves are worthy. Expediency should never compromise integrity.

3. Respect for Others

Stanford University is an institution dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and facilitation of an environment that fosters this goal. Central to that institutional commitment is the principle of treating each University Community member fairly and with respect, and embracing diversity and inclusion. See Statement from the President and Provost on Advancing Free Speech and Inclusion.

The University prohibits discrimination and harassment and provides equal opportunities for all Community members and applicants regardless of their race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, reproductive health decision-making, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, military status, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law. Where actions are found to have occurred that violate this standard the University will take prompt action to cease the offending conduct, prevent its recurrence and discipline those responsible. Find policies in support of this standard at these locations:

4. Compliance with Laws and Applicable Policies and Procedures

Members of the Stanford University Community must transact University business in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and University policy and procedure. Managers and supervisors are responsible for teaching and monitoring compliance. When questions arise pertaining to interpretation or applicability of policy, contact the individual who has oversight of the policy. Refer all unresolved questions and/or interpretation of laws and regulations to the Office of the General Counsel. University-wide policy documents can be found at

a. Contractual, Grant and Other Obligations

The acceptance of an agreement, including sponsored project funding, may create a legal obligation on the part of Stanford University to comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement and applicable laws and regulations. Therefore, only individuals who have authority delegated by an appropriate University official may enter into agreements on behalf of the University. See Administrative Guide Memo 5.1.1 Procurement Policies.

b. Environmental Health & Safety, including Workplace Health and Safety

Members of the University Community must be committed to protecting the health and safety of its members by providing safe workplaces. The University will provide information and training about health and safety hazards, and safeguards. University Community members must adhere to good health and safety practices and comply with all environmental health and safety laws and regulations. See Stanford Health and Safety Training Policies.

c. Non-University Professional Standards

Some professions and disciplines represented at the University are governed by standards and codes specific to their profession (such as attorneys, certified public accountants, and medical doctors). Those professional standards generally advance the quality of the profession and/or discipline by developing codes of ethics, conduct, and professional responsibility and standards to guide their members. Those belonging to such organizations are expected to adhere to University policies and codes of conduct in addition to any professional standards. If a University Community member believes there is a conflict between a professional standard and University policy, they should contact the Office of the General Counsel.

d. Academic Policies

See Academic Policies and Statements on the Stanford Bulletin website for academic policies.

5. Confidentiality, Privacy and Information Security

University Community members receive and generate various types of confidential, regulated, proprietary and private information on behalf of the University. All members of the Community are expected to comply with all applicable rules, laws, and regulations (whether federal, state, local or foreign), contractual obligations, and University policies pertaining to the use, protection and disclosure of this information. When disaffiliating from Stanford, University Community members must return all sensitive University data unless an exception has been granted.

Find office websites and supporting policies at the following locations:

6. Financial Responsibilities and Internal Controls

Members of the University Community are expected to employ sound business practices and exercise prudent financial management in their stewardship of University resources. Refer to Section 3 of the Administrative Guide for responsibilities related to protection and management of University financial assets.

7. Use of University Resources

University resources must be reserved for business purposes on behalf of the University. They may not be used for personal gain, and may not be used for personal use except in a manner that is incidental, and reasonable in light of the employee's duties. University resources include, but are not limited to:

  • University systems (e.g., telephone systems, data communication and networking services),
  • The Stanford domain for electronic communication forums,
  • Stanford name, logo, and letterhead,
  • University equipment (e.g., computers and peripherals, University vehicles),
  • Stanford facilities,
  • Procurement tools such as purchasing cards, travel cards and petty cash,
  • University records including student, employee, donor, sponsor, and patient records, and
  • The time and effort of staff, students and others at Stanford.

Please see the following policies for more information:

8. Conflict of Commitment/Conflict of Interest

University Community members who are Stanford faculty and staff owe their primary professional allegiance to the University and its mission to engage in the highest level of education, research, health care and business practices.

A conflict of commitment can arise when a person’s external activities, e.g., consulting agreements, speaking engagements, public service, personal business, etc. interfere with the person’s responsibilities to the university. A conflict of commitment usually involves issues of time allocation.

Outside professional activities, private financial interests or the receipt of benefits or gifts from third parties can cause an actual or perceived conflict of interest.

Relationships between Stanford and its vendors or sponsors must be free of any real or perceived impropriety or favoritism. University Community members should not solicit any gift, and should not personally accept any material gift, gratuity or payment, in cash or in kind, from any third party seeking to do business with the University or currently doing business with the University.

In order to protect our primary mission, University Community members with other professional or financial interests shall disclose them in compliance with applicable conflict of commitment/conflict of interest policies and, if permitted, manage them in compliance with all controls put in place. The policies are available on the following websites:

9. Response to Governmental or Other Investigations

Stanford University is committed to cooperating with government investigators as required by law. If an employee receives a subpoena, search warrant or other similar document, before taking any action, the employee must immediately contact the Office of the Chief Risk Officer or the Office of the General Counsel. The Office of the General Counsel is responsible for authorizing the release or copying of any University records or documents.

If a government investigator, agent, or auditor comes to the University, an employee should contact their supervisor and the appropriate University office before discussing University business with such investigator, agent, or auditor. If the appropriate office is unknown, the supervisor should contact the Office of the Chief Risk Officer or the Office of the General Counsel.

10. Reporting Suspected Violations

Adherence to this Code also requires that any suspected violations of applicable standards, policies, laws or regulations be brought to the attention of the appropriate cognizant office. Raising such concerns is a service to the University and does not jeopardize the University Community member’s position or employment.

a. Reporting to Management

Members of the University Community should report suspected violations of applicable laws, regulations, government contract and grant requirements or this Code and University policies and procedures. This reporting should normally be made initially through standard management channels, beginning with the immediate supervisor, instructor or advisor. If for any reason it is not appropriate to report suspected violations to the immediate supervisor (e.g., the suspected violation is by the supervisor), or the employee is uncomfortable doing so, individuals may go to a higher level of management within their school or department.

b. Other Reporting

If for any reason it is not appropriate to report suspected violations through management channels within the school or departments, or the employee is uncomfortable doing so, individuals may go to:

  • Human Resources,
  • The Office of the Chief Risk Officer,
  • The Office of the General Counsel,  
  • The Office for Institutional Equity and Access,
  • The Ethics and Compliance Helpline at:

Every concern is treated seriously and reviewed in the appropriate manner.

c. Confidentiality

Concerns may be reported confidentially, and even anonymously, although the more information given, the easier it is to investigate the concerns. The only anonymous reporting mechanism at the University is the Compliance and Ethics Helpline web form:

d. Cooperation

All members of the University Community are expected to cooperate fully in the investigation of potential violations of University policy and applicable rules, laws, or regulations.

e. Non-Retaliation

Stanford policy prohibits retaliation against an individual who in good faith reports or provides information about concerns or suspected violations. Retaliation is an adverse action taken because an individual has made a report or has participated in an investigation. An adverse action is any action that materially affects that individual's standing or terms and conditions of employment. False accusations made with the intent of harming or retaliating against another person may subject the accuser to disciplinary action. 

f. Consequences of Violation

Confirmed violations will result in appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or other relationships with the University. In some circumstances, civil or criminal charges and penalties may apply.