At the recommendation of the Purpose Committee of the Board of Trustees, on March 19, 2004, the office of Ethics Ombudsman was created with the responsibility to receive, investigate and resolve questions and allegations of potential lapses in institutional ethics and integrity.
Oklahoma Christian University is dedicated to the highest standards of Christian integrity, and is concerned about the ethical dimension of institutional actions and actions of its employees and representatives in the course of employment. Christians are keenly aware of the subtle efforts of Satan to cause compromises integrity. No individual is above temptation, nor are human beings sufficiently wise and perceptive to recognize all ethical lapses.
Furthermore, in human affairs integrity is frequently questioned when perceptions are based on incomplete or inaccurate information. A perception of ethical lapse, whether true or not, can do significant damage to the reputation of the organization and/or individuals. It is important to have an avenue of addressing perceived ethical failures as well as real ones.
Among the most important traits desired in the officer holding this position are:
- Intimate familiarity with biblical standards of behavior,
- Insight about human nature and common sense,
- Personal integrity, credibility, and trust,
- Rationality and calmness in tense interpersonal situations,
- Discretion and ability to protect confidential information,
- Courage to challenge authority when needed,
- Ready access to all levels of management and to the Board of Trustees, and
- A position of safety from which, if necessary, to tell the “emperor he has no clothes.”
In order for the Ethics Ombudsman position to fulfill its purposes to help safeguard the reputation and integrity of this University, further explanation about how this position functions may be helpful. First, is the recognition of some of the things the Ethics Ombudsman does not do. He or she is not a morality policeman or an ethics compliance officer, though expected to carefully observe and advise the President and the Board of Trustees regarding the ethical dimension of the institution’s activities. The Ethics Ombudsman is not an alternative to the existing channels of communication or dispute resolution. Thus, matters of ethical failure for which there are existing channels or procedures for resolution should be handled through those processes. This function will be ineffective if the Ethics Ombudsman is bogged down in redirecting and/or responding to issues and allegations that should be handled through existing organizational structures or directly between Christians.
Therefore, the Ethics Ombudsman will not:
- Resolve differences of opinion or personal disagreements.
- Be responsible for resolving grade or other academic disputes.
- Hear and resolve general disputes among faculty, staff, parents, and/or students.
- Be an arbiter of religious interpretation or other religious disputes.
The Ethics Ombudsman will:
- Assign a control number for tracking to every complaint received in writing;
- Make the initial determination whether a matter should be handled in a different manner, and if so, seek to be helpful in redirecting the complaint to the proper channels;
- Conduct investigations into alleged violations of university ethics, violations of law, or violations of university policy;
- Make recommendations to appropriate authorities for resolution of misconduct;
- Communicate disposition of the matter to the person who reported a potential ethics violation; and,
- Provide reports on ethical issues to the President and the Purpose Committee of the Board of Trustees.
- On all matters involving the President, the Ombudsman shall promptly report to the Chair of the Purpose Committee of the Board of Trustees.
Except for matters which should be handled using existing processes, anyone who believes that the University, or any employee of the University acting in his or her official capacity, has acted in a manner inconsistent with the highest ethical standards may, without recourse and without disclosure (except as necessary to resolve or investigate the matter), report such actions or inactions to the Ethics Ombudsman. All such reports must be in writing and signed, and should provide sufficient details that the Ethics Ombudsman can identify those involved, understand the alleged violation, investigate the alleged lapse, and know whether the reporting party wishes to remain anonymous to others. Concerns submitted without signature will receive no public or private response, and further investigation shall be in the sole discretion of the Ethics Ombudsman. Unless the Ethics Ombudsman deems it prudent not to do so, signed reports will receive an oral or a written response.
It is the intention of this policy to communicate to everyone that Oklahoma Christian University is dedicated to Christ-like behavior at all levels of the University.
Policy Effective 3/19/04 (Revised 7/6/05)