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After the Wainstein report, ethics working group has completed review

Todd Nicolet became the Interim Chief Integrity and Policy Officer on Monday. He said the chancellor hopes to have a permanent officer by June 1.

The position came from a joint recommendation by the Ethics and Integrity Working Group and the Policy and Procedures Working Group, both of which were commissioned by Chancellor Carol Folt after the release of the Wainstein report in fall 2014. Folt announced the release of the ethics and integrity group’s final report in an email Thursday.

Nicolet, who chaired the policy and procedures group, said the position brought together the ethics and integrity group’s focus on culture, and the policy and procedures group’s focus on structures to support that culture. He stressed the importance of emphasizing ethics, while also giving the campus community the resources to carry out those values.

School of Government professor Norma Houston served as co-chairperson of the ethics and integrity group. She said the group recognized that its work was about restoring the University’s reputation, a task critical to its future.

“The challenges that the campus has faced over the last couple of years, while significant, were brought about by the grossly inappropriate conduct of a very small handful of individuals. And their conduct is not, in our opinion, representative of the integrity of faculty, staff and students as a whole,” Houston said.

She said one of the biggest takeaways from the report is that the group found no significant gaps in the University’s resources, trainings or reporting mechanisms. Because of this, the committee wants to focus on awareness.

The University has 20 different mechanisms for reporting possible ethical violations. The number of channels has to do with the laws’ structures, Houston said. Where a report for a complaint is filed depends on the kind of complaint.

“You want to have redundancy,” she said. “But you don’t want to have redundancy to the point of confusion.”

To strike a balance among the various reporting channels, the working group recommended creating a web portal that could streamline the complaint filing process.

“The site is intended to be a useful tool, and a prominent reminder of the value Carolina places on upholding our campus culture of ethics and integrity,” said University spokesperson Sarah Derreberry in an email.

Houston also highlighted the importance of the working group’s recommendation that the University adopt a statement on ethics. Although various groups throughout campus have a statement, the University itself does not have a single statement.

“We recommended it because it provides — it gives — us a framework for communicating what our core values are with regard to ethics and integrity,” Houston said.

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