Standards of Conduct

Virginia Commonwealth University is an academic community given meaning through the mutual respect and trust of the individuals who learn, teach and work within it. Each member of this community is entitled to certain rights and privileges which must be protected through fair and orderly processes and which are best safeguarded when members act in an orderly and responsible manner.


Further, it is the university’s objective to promote the well-being of its employees in the workplace and to maintain high standards of professional conduct and compliance with applicable guidance. Employees are expected to abide by all VCU policies and federal, state and local laws that apply to his or her job. It is every employee’s duty to report any conditions or circumstances that prevent a satisfactory work environment or unclear procedures that may affect compliance.


Management personnel at every level are to set an ethical “tone” and to act as ethical role models for behavior in their administrative units. They should strive to create a culture that advances integrity and encourages everyone to freely voice concerns when suspected unethical behavior or incidents of noncompliance occur. Each employee has an obligation to report to their supervisor or the Integrity and Compliance Office, as described later, any activity that they perceive to violate such laws, policies, rules and regulations.


Key University Policies (Click to expand):


Contact with Outside Organizations

Contact with Government Agencies/Outside Investigators.  With due consideration given to the legal rights of Virginia Commonwealth University and its employees, VCU expects to fully cooperate with government investigations. In the event of a subpoena, other legal document or inquiry from an agency outside the university, employees, whether at home or in the workplace, should notify the Office of the General Counsel immediately at (804) 828-6610 and then his or her supervisor. It is important that General Counsel review the subpoena to determine the university’s rights and responsibilities for compliance. Do not ignore a subpoena, even if it addresses something you are unfamiliar with, or asks for documents you do not have. Failure to respond to a subpoena could result in you or the university being held in contempt of court. If contacted at home by an external governmental agency without a search warrant or subpoena concerning business of the university, the employee should request that the agent make such contact at work the next business day and then immediately contact his or her supervisor, followed by the Office of the General Counsel. For additional information, visit: www.generalcounsel.vcu.edu.


Contact with the Media.The university recognizes the significant role the media play in the fulfillment of our mission. Faculty and staff are encouraged to interact with members of the news media in expressing their personal opinions regarding areas of expertise. However, media must arrange interviews and photo shoots with VCU faculty, staff or patients in advance through the Office of Communications and Public Relations (OCPR).


To ensure confidentiality, privacy and appropriate sensitivity to students, patients and families, reporters, video crews and photographers should be accompanied by an OCPR staff person while on the campus. Note that members of the media may not enter student housing or position themselves at the entrances to student housing.


Patients who agree to be interviewed on the hospital premises must provide prior written consent and a OCPR representative must be present.  Hospital security will remove unauthorized media from the VCU Medical Center as necessary.


The Office of Communications and Public Relations is a 24-hour operation. During business hours, the telephone number is (804) 828-1231. For news emergencies after hours, please page the public relations staff member on call at (804) 759-7675.


Additional information is accessible at: www.news.vcu.edu/for_media/default.aspx.


Copyright and Intellectual Property

Copyrighted Material.  Most works should be presumed to be protected by copyright unless further information from the copyright holder or express notice reveals that the copyright holder intends the work to be freely used by the public. Written permission must be obtained from the copyright owner to use copyrighted materials where such use is not a “fair use.”

Generally, the ownership of the copyright interest in a work vests initially in the author of that work. However, the Copyright Act of 1976 provides that when a copyrighted work is produced by one person who has been employed by another for that purpose, the employer is considered the owner of the property. For purposes of this policy, the university shall own the entire right, title and interest in all materials subject to copyright when required by law or contract or when the university member:

  • Creates the material as an assigned duty; or
  • Makes significant use of university facilities and resources in their creation.

University members shall retain all rights relating to publication, preparation of derivative works, distribution, and classroom use of works which they have prepared on their own initiative, including both papers published in scholarly journals or books, provided the university does not possess rights of ownership as defined above.


The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of copies and other reproductions of copyrighted material. Any individual who uses a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use" may be liable for copyright infringement.
A list of FAQs regarding copyrights is available at: www.ts.vcu.edu/kb/3993.html.
Faculty should review copyright guidance at: www.library.vcu.edu/reserves/faculty/copyright. More information is available at www.copyright.gov/and in the Intellectual Property Policy: www.assurance.vcu.edu/Policy Library/Intellectual Property Policy.pdf.


"Fair use" is defined as limited reproduction of portions of copyrighted materials for instructional use. There are serious questions as to whether this applies to Internet (web) publications. Educational fair use is limited to distribution of materials in a classroom, broadcast of materials to a classroom, or distribution of materials to handicapped students who can not get to a classroom. Since there is no legal definition of an Internet classroom, applying "fair use" to the Internet is at instructor’s risk.


All copyright violations should be reported to VCU’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act Agent at dmca-agent@vcu.edu or by calling (804) 827-0528.


Intellectual Property.  The university shall retain all rights, title and interest in any and all intellectual property generated, created or developed in facilities operated or controlled by the university, supported by funds administered by the university and/or performed in the course of regular duties by university members, unless exempted by other provisions of this policy.


The Vice President for Research shall have the right to exercise broad discretion necessary for the encouragement, development and protection of inventions, patents and other intellectual property. The Vice President for Research shall consult with the Intellectual Property Ownership Committee, the Office of Technology Transfer and the Intellectual Property Foundation in matters requiring the exercise of broad discretion.


Creations developed by employees using university facilities or resources beyond their customary or normal usage, as defined as Significant Use of University Resources in the Intellectual Properties Policy (www.assurance.vcu.edu/Policy Library/Intellectual Property Policy.pdf), become the property of the university. However, university members shall retain all rights relating to publication, preparation of derivative works, distribution and classroom use of works which they have prepared on their own initiative, including both papers published in scholarly journals or books, provided VCU does not possess rights of ownership as defined above.


In order to protect the rights of the creators and the university, prior to public disclosure, university members are required to report all Intellectual Property in which the university may claim an interest (including explicitly all inventions and copyrighted works which are owned by the university in accordance with Ownership of Intellectual Property section above) to the Office of Technology Transfer using the appropriate Invention Disclosure form that may be downloaded from the VCU Tech Transfer web site. Failure to disclose Intellectual Property in a timely manner may result in loss of value of the Intellectual Property.


University members should address all questions regarding issues of intellectual property and public disclosure to the Director of the Office of Technology Transfer by calling (804) 827-1213.


Employment Guidelines and Hiring Requirements

 

Equal Employment Opportunity.  It is VCU’s policy to provide employment, educational programs, health care services, research opportunities and other services provided to the public in a manner that will insure that the university's commitments to nondiscrimination are implemented. Access to all services is based on sound principles of nondiscrimination as expressed in the affirmative action plans and procedures (Reaffirmation of VCU's EOP.pdf).

 

Discrimination based on age, race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, veteran’s status, political affiliation or disability is prohibited and should be reported to the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Services (EEO/AA).

 

A charge of discrimination/harassment must be filed using the Charge of Discrimination/ Harassment form available through the Office of EEO/AA Services Web site: www.vcu.edu/eeoaa. Forms may also be obtained by calling (804) 828-1347 or by writing to the Office of EEO/AA Services, Virginia Commonwealth University, P.O. Box 843022, Richmond, VA 23284-3022. Completed forms must be submitted within two years of the discriminatory act.

 

It is unlawful for an employer or other covered entity to retaliate against someone who files a charge of discrimination/harassment, participates in an investigation or opposes discriminatory practices. Individuals who believe they have been retaliated against should contact EEO/AA Services immediately. Even if an individual has filed a charge of discrimination/harassment, he/she can file a new charge on the alleged retaliatory act(s).

 

Family and Medical Leave Act.  Eligible employees may receive a leave of absence, using a combination of leave with pay (when available) and leave without pay, for a maximum of 12 weeks (480 hours) within a fixed leave year, for medical reasons specified by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). An employee must have been employed by the Commonwealth of Virginia for at least 12 months and have worked for VCU at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period prior to the start of the leave. (NOTE: Neither the 12 months nor the required 1,250 hours have to be worked during consecutive months. The 12 months must have been worked subsequent to any seven year break in service.) Leave for a qualifying exigency is only available to employees who have family members in the National Guard, Reserves, and regular Armed Forces or Reserve who are retired.

 

Qualifying reasons for which an employee may take family and medical leave include:

  • The employee’s own serious health condition
  • The birth of a child (to be taken within 12 months after birth)
  • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care (to be taken within 12 months of the date of placement)
  • To care for an immediate family member who has a serious health condition
  • For a qualifying exigency arising out of the employee’s spouse, child, or parent being on active military duty or having been notified of an impending call to duty.

If both spouses work for the university, the total amount of leave provided to both employees is limited to a combined total of 12 weeks in a 12-month period when the leave is for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child with the employee, or for the care of a child within 12 months after the birth or placement. This limitation does not apply if the leave is taken because of the employee’s own serious health condition or to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.

 

Departments should require medical certification from a health care provider for an employee's own serious health condition or for a family member's serious health condition before family and medical leave is granted. Employees must provide documentation within 15 calendar days following the request by the supervisor for FMLA eligibility to be preserved. Documentation of the same illness may only be requested once every 30 days.

 

For information concerning additional eligibility requirements and restrictions, contact Human Resources Leave Administration at (804) 828-1772 or leave@vcu.edu. Additional information on FMLA is contained in the VCU Family and Medical Leave Act Policy accessible at: www.assurance.vcu/Policy Library/Family and Medical Leave.pdf.

 

General Hiring Requirements.  The university must ensure that all persons hired are eligible to work in the United States as required by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 ; therefore, all employees must file Form I-9 and provide proof of identity and eligibility within three days of hire. State law also requires all newly hired employees to be processed through the E-Verify system, which electronically checks information provided by the employee on the Form I-9 against records contained in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration databases. Additionally, all males must provide proof of registration, or exemption from registration, with the Selective Service System.

Another condition of employment for all employee types at VCU is criminal background checks upon hire and upon transfer or promotion into certain types of jobs. Details are available in the VCU Policy on Criminal Conviction Investigations located at www.assurance.vcu/Policy Library/Criminal Conviction Investigations.pdf.

 

In accordance with the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) Policies and Procedures Manual , VCU provides specific guidelines for an efficient competitive hiring process that promotes equal employment opportunity. The Classified Employment, Promotion and Transfer Policy can be accessed by visiting: www.assurance.vcu/Policy Library/Classified Employment, Promotion & Transfer.pdf. A comprehensive list of state hiring policies can be found on the DHRM website as well. To access this information, visit: www.dhrm.state.va.us/hrpolicy/policy.html. For information on hiring requirements concerning foreign nationals, visit the VCU Global Education Office at: www.global.vcu.edu/students/immigration/index.html.

 

VCU has also assembled a similar guide for hiring faculty, titled Strategies for Successfully Recruiting a Diverse Faculty , which is available at: www.vcu.edu/eeoaa/pdfs/recruitstrat.pdf.

 

Honoraria.  Employees may accept honoraria for activities such as presenting papers at professional meetings, giving occasional lectures at other institutions; service in offices or on committees of academic or professional societies, or professionally-related civic and nonprofit organizations; participation in accreditation visits to other institutions, and service on governmental advisory committees or study sections; or other similar occasions provided it complies with the university rules on outside employment.

 

Such activities should bring only a nominal financial return to the individual and may be accepted without prior clearance or specific limitation by VCU. However, at the end of the contractual year (May 15 for academic year faculty, June 30 for 12-month faculty), faculty members who have engaged in outside professional activity for extra compensation must report such activity using Form CP-2 located at: www.provost.vcu.edu/pdfs/CP-2.pdf.

 

For further guidance, visit: www.assurance.vcu/Policy Library/Outside Professional Activity & Employment Policy, Research & Continuing Education.pdf.

 

Outside Employment.  Outside employment must occur only in time that is clearly off-duty from the university and must be carefully limited so that it is compatible with the individual's professional status, creates no conflict of interest with the university, does not conflict with scheduled university duties or does not in any way infringe on the full-time professional effort committed to the university. Staff who desire to work for another employer in addition to a regular job at the VCU, must notify their supervisor first.

 

Faculty members are encouraged to engage in activities beyond their regular university duties when such activities contribute to individual growth, extend knowledge or advance the mission of the university. During the period of contractual obligation to the university, faculty members are required to submit written requests for permission in advance of participating in outside professional activity. This is done by submitting Form CP-1 (www.provost.vcu.edu/pdfs/CP-1.pdf) through the department chairman to the dean of the school.

 

Under appropriate limitations, it is acceptable for faculty members to receive extra compensation for work that is definitely beyond and does not interfere with their university duties. There is need to protect the interests of the university and the use of its facilities in ways that would deplete its resources and interfere with its programs of education, scholarly activity and health care. At the end of the contractual year (May 15 for academic year faculty, June 30 for 12-month faculty), faculty members who have engaged in outside professional activity for extra compensation must report such activity using Form CP-2.

 

No full-time employee shall be employed by an outside entity and shall not receive a retainer fee or salary until a description of the nature and extent of the employment has been filed and approved by the appropriate administrative officials in the employee’s operating unit. Consulting and other professional commitments, paid or unpaid, that present conflicts of interest or may impinge upon an employee’s institutional commitments are to be avoided, even if the outside employment only presents potential problems.

 

Full text of VCU’s policy on Outside Professional Activity and Employment, Research, and Continuing Education are accessible at: www.assurance.vcu/Policy Library/Outside Professional Activity & Employment Policy, Research & Continuing Education.pdf.

 

Overtime Compensation.  The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) entitles non-exempt employees of Virginia Commonwealth University who are required or permitted to work in excess of 40 hours in a work week (from 12:01 a.m. Sunday through midnight on the following Saturday), to receive either overtime leave or payment for overtime at the rate of time and one-half. Overtime leave guidelines are available at: www.assurance.vcu/Policy Library/Overtime Guidelines.pdf.

 

To receive overtime compensation, an employee must be required and authorized by the manager to work additional hours. Note that employees may not approve or authorize their own additional hours. However, a non-exempt employee must be paid for all hours worked and reported, whether this time was authorized by the manager or not. Additionally, leave time and holidays do not count as time worked; compensatory leave may be accrued only if the employee is declared essential and is required to work during authorized university closings (e.g., inclement weather); and university business operating procedures prohibit tracking compensatory time “off the record.”

 

Exempt employees are paid a salary for the job, not paid by the hour and therefore are not required to be paid overtime or to accrue compensatory leave. Managers should limit approval of additional straight-time (regular rate) payment or compensatory leave accrual for exempt employees to the rare instances that require an excessive amount of additional work time; even then, these payments or compensatory time accrued should not be paid on an hour for hour basis. Exempt employees may occasionally need to work overtime without receiving additional pay or accruing compensatory leave.

 

Overload (secondary) job hours worked by classified, student or hourly employees must be reported in accordance with current payroll and FLSA procedures. Overtime payment for overload jobs is typically dependent on the FLSA status of the primary (first) job.

 

To determine the FLSA status of your particular position, see your supervisor or your department’s Personnel Administrator. Contact your HR Generalist at hrgen@vcu.edu  or call HR General Information at (804) 827-1770 for more information and assistance or visit: www.hr.vcu.edu/pdf_docs/Overtime_Fact_Sheet.pdf.

 

Entering Into Contracts and Agreements

There is a select group of university officers and employees who have the authority to sign or execute a contract/agreement in the name of or on behalf of the university. No employee is authorized to sign a contract or agreement including a gift agreement that claims to bind Virginia Commonwealth University unless that employee has official written delegated authority to do so. Certain contracts and agreements require prior approval from the Board of Visitors. For further information, visit: Resolution Authorizing Certain University Officers & Employees to Execute Contracts and Other Documentss.

 

For guidelines that govern federal grants and agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals and non-profit organizations, consult Circular A-110 at the following address: www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_a110/.


Ethical Conduct in the Workplace

Conflict of Interest.  State laws, court decisions, opinions of the Attorney General and the policy of the Board of Visitors prohibit employees of Virginia Commonwealth University from having a direct or indirect interest, financial or otherwise, in a corporation of any nature that is in substantial conflict with or might reasonably tend to influence the performance of the employee’s official duties.

 

Under the Virginia State and local government’s Conflict of Interest Act a prohibited conflict of interest arises for an employee of VCU when an employee or a member of his/her immediate family has a personal interest in a firm or business which contracts with VCU. A personal interest generally is defined as ownership of more than 3 percent of the equity or liability of the business or receipt of income, or other commercial arrangement worth more than $10,000 annually from the business, which accrues to the employee or a member of the employee's immediate family. Immediate family is defined as a spouse and any other person residing in the same household as the employee, who is a dependent of the employee or of whom the employee is a dependent. See Section 2.2-3101 of the Code of Virginia for a complete definition.

 

Generally prohibited conduct includes:

  • Soliciting or receiving money or other thing of value, aside from one's wages or salary paid by VCU, for services performed within the scope of the employee’s duties.
  • Using for one's (or another's) benefit any confidential information that the employee learns by reason of his or her employment that is not otherwise available to the general public.
  • Accepting gifts from outside sources in connection with the performance of one's duties.
  • Offering or accepting money or any other thing of value in connection with obtaining contracts, including contracts of employment, with VCU or the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Interests in research and development contracts are exempted provided the disclosure and approval requirements of the law are followed. Research and development contracts covered by these guidelines include research agreements approved through the Office of Sponsored Programs and intellectual property licensing agreements with the university or an affiliated corporation.

 

The Act requires persons occupying certain “positions of trust” to file an annual Statement of Economic Interests.  Additionally, the Integrity and Compliance Office provides mandatory Conflict of Interests training biennially. Further information can be found at: Procedures for Compliance with Section 2.1-639.6.C.7 of the Virginia State and Local Government Conflict of Interest Act.

 

Fraud.  The elimination of fraud, waste and abuse is the responsibility of all employees of Virginia Commonwealth University.

 

The university is bound by the Code of Virginia to notify the Auditor of Public Accounts upon the discovery of circumstances suggesting a reasonable possibility that a fraudulent transaction has occurred involving funds or property. If you are aware or suspect that a fraudulent act occurred, you should promptly advise your immediate supervisor of the situation. Your supervisor will contact the appropriate administrative officer in your school or office, who is responsible for reporting the situation to the Department of Assurance Services and the VCU Police. The university's Integrity and Compliance Office will then notify the Auditor of Public Accounts. It is recommended that you document your actions in a memorandum or notes. The reporting potential fraud policy is accessible at: Reporting Potential Fraud.

 

Purchasing Guidelines.  No employee may expend Virginia Commonwealth University funds for any purchase unless the person is authorized to make the purchase, and unless the purchase is made in accordance with all institutional purchasing procedures.

 

Employees are required to follow purchasing guidelines outlined in the Purchasing A – Z Policies & Procedures Manual. Certain commodities and services require prior approval regardless of dollar amount (see Approvals Required Prior to Purchase ). For purchase procedures that apply to goods and services costing up to $50,000, visit: www.vcu.edu/procurement/purchasing/pdf_docs/vspprocd.pdf.

 

In certain situations, individuals may be precluded from participating in the procurement process (i.e., the employee is contemporaneously employed by a company involved in the procurement transaction; the employee's immediate family holds a position with a company involved in the procurement transaction; the employee or any member of the employee's immediate family has a pecuniary interest arising from the procurement transaction; etc.) as this would be in violation of the State’s Conflict of Interest Policy.

 

In rare circumstances, a unique product or service may only be available from one source. In this case, sole source documentation can be filed that substantiates that the vendor is the only practicably available source for the required goods or services, that the contracted price is fair and reasonable and the contracted terms are consistent with the laws of the Commonwealth. Processing sole source procurements require significant market analysis and documentation and are not intended to be simple or quick processes because such purchases bypass competitive procurement. This documentation is public information available for review by vendors who may claim that they can provide equivalent goods or services. For more information on sole source documentation procedures and requirements, visit: www.vcu.edu/procurement/purchasing/technology/special/solesource.html.

 

Additional questions regarding VCU’s purchasing policies may be directed to university Purchasing at (804) 828-1077 or www.vcu.edu/procurement/purchasing/index.html.

A list of purchasing FAQs can be found by accessing: www.vcu.edu/procurement/purchasing/faqs.html.


Gifts to Employees and the University

Estates. An employee who agrees to serve as executor/administrator of an estate benefiting a VCU component must notify the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at www.support.vcu.edu.


Gifts to Employees.  An employee having official responsibility for a procurement transaction may not solicit, demand, accept or agree to accept from a bidder, offeror, contractor or subcontractor any payment, loan, subscription, advance, deposit of money, services or anything of more than nominal or minimal value, present or promised, unless consideration of substantially equal or greater value is exchanged (Code of Virginia § 2.2-4371).


Furthermore, employees may not accept any money, loan, gift, favor, service, or business or professional opportunity that:

  • Reasonably tends to influence the performance of official duties
  • That is likely to be afforded to an employee in order to influence their performance; or
  • Where the timing and nature of the gift would cause a reasonable person to question the employee's impartiality in the matter affecting the donor.

However, employees having official responsibility for procurement transactions may attend vendor-sponsored seminars or trade shows where they will benefit from receiving product information and learning of new techniques and product or service trends.  Food, drinks and give-away items offered to all participants at such functions may be accepted by university employees attending (see the Purchasing A – Z Policies & Procedures Manual.).


"Gift" is defined as any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance or other item having monetary value. It includes services as well as gifts of transportation, local travel, lodgings and meals whether provided in-kind, by purchase of a ticket, payment in advance or reimbursement after the expense has been incurred (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3101 Definitions ).


If in doubt, do not accept gifts offered to you because you are a Virginia Commonwealth University employee.


Gifts to Virginia Commonwealth University.  Occasionally, vendors or alumni want to give or donate goods or services to the university. If this occurs, departments should contact the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at (804) 828-0880. Gifts and donations of this nature must be coordinated with and approved by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations prior to the department’s acceptance of the gift or donation (see the Purchasing A – Z Policies & Procedures Manual.).


Receipts of gifts require special processing on the day they are received by the department. Receipts of gifts require the department to complete the Gift Transmittal Form located at www.toolkit.vcu.edu/policies/GTF.doc. Designated gifts should be delivered to the appropriate location as indicated on the Gift Transmittal Form:

  • Gifts to the University: deliver to 828 West Franklin Street
  • Gifts to the MCV Foundation: deliver to 1228 East Broad Street
  • Gifts to the VCU Foundation: deliver to 828 West Franklin Street
  • Gifts to the School of Business Foundation: deliver to 828 West Franklin Street

The Virginia Public Procurement Act stipulates that in the case of gifts or grants to the university, no commitments can be made with regard to the procurement of goods or services. The grantor or donor should be so informed. For example, a donor may not specify that a gift is conditioned upon the future purchase or lease of goods or services from the donor or that a particular brand or source of equipment be specified.


See also Solicitation of Private Funds for Non-Sponsored Program Purposes.


Political Activities and Contributions

Political Activities.  An employee may participate in political activities if such activities are not conducted during work hours; are in compliance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia; do not interfere with the discharge and performance of the employee’s duties and responsibilities; and do not involve the use of equipment, supplies or services of Virginia Commonwealth University. See the Use of Computer Systems, Software and Network Resources and Ethical Conduct in the Workplace: Conflict of Interest sections.


Political Contributions.  To justify the use of State funds, expenditures must be considered essential to the operation of the agency and in support of the agency’s mission. Therefore, political contributions from any State funded sources are prohibited if such activity constitutes a violation of the university’s Conflict of Interest Policy. For clarification of allowable and non-allowable expenditures, please review the Purchasing A – Z Policies & Procedures Manual.


Records and Information

Accurate Records.  Employees of Virginia Commonwealth University are required to maintain the integrity and accuracy of business documents and records for which they are responsible. No one may enter false information on a document; and no one without the authority to do so may alter, destroy or expunge information on any record or document. This includes accurately completing timesheets, indicating hours of work and absence from work. See sections 3.2 and 3.4 of the VCU Code of Conduct for Business Practices.

 

Confidential Information.  Most documents collected, assembled or maintained by Virginia Commonwealth University in the regular course of business are considered public information by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) located in section § 2.2-3700 of the Code of Virginia. Documents are available to the public unless specifically exempted from disclosure by the Attorney General or are made confidential by law. Faculty should be aware that classroom records and student grades are considered confidential and should not be disclosed without permission. Written requests for documents under the FOIA from VCU and questions may be directed to the University News Center for VCU at (804) 828-6057 or by fax at (804) 828-2018. In addition, the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is also available to answer questions about FOIA. The Council may be contacted by e-mail at foiacouncil@leg.state.va.us or by phone at (804) 225-3056 or 1-866-448-4100.

 

A department or individual that receives a FOIA request should do the following:

  • Date stamp the request if in writing. Although a written request is not required, a requester may be asked politely if he/she is willing to submit a written request and VCU will provide the name and address to Communications and Public Relations to which requests should be sent. If the requester makes a verbal request, a note of the date of the request, the name, address, telephone number of the requester and the requested records should be made.
  • Immediately notify Communications and Public Relations [phone (804) 828-6057; fax (804) 828-2018; e-mail pdlepley@vcu.edu] and the Office of the General Counsel [phone (804) 828-6610; fax (804) 828-6614] of the request and provide the information supplied by the requester.
  • Certain records may be excluded from the requirements of FOIA. Approval of the Office of the General Counsel should be obtained prior to providing any requested records that would qualify for an exception.

For more information, visit: www.news.vcu.edu/contact/foia.aspx


HIPAA.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 protects all "individually identifiable health information" held or transmitted in any form or media, whether electronic, paper or oral. The Privacy Rule calls this information "protected health information (PHI)."

 

“Individually identifiable health information” is information, including demographic data relating to:

  • The individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition
  • The provision of health care to the individual
  • The past, present or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual, and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe can be used to identify the individual.  Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number)

The Privacy Rule excludes employment records that are maintained as an employer, education and certain other records subject to, or defined in, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act .

 

The Privacy Rule recognizes that the research community has legitimate needs to use, access, and disclose individually identifiable health information to carry out a wide range of health research protocols and projects. In the course of conducting research, researchers may create, use, and/or disclose individually identifiable health information. The Privacy Rule protects the privacy of such information but also provides various ways in which researchers can access and use the information for research.

 

One way researches may access information is by giving individuals the opportunity to agree to the uses and disclosures of their PHI by signing an Authorization form for uses and disclosures not otherwise permitted by the Rule. The Privacy Rule establishes the right of an individual, such as a research subject, to authorize a covered entity to use and disclose his/her PHI for research purposes. This requirement is in addition to the informed consent to participate in research required under the HHS Protection of Human Subjects Regulations and other applicable Federal and State law.

 

To release protected health information, the information must be de-identified using either statistical verification of de-identification or by removing certain pieces of information from each record as specified in the Rule.

 

For specific details of HIPAA and how it may apply to your area, visit: www.vcuhealth.org/?id=868&sid=1.

 

Retention.  The university is bound by the Virginia Public Records Act to follow the regulations established by the State Library Board in creating, filing and maintaining public records concerning the transactions of university business. Different types of records must be retained for varying amounts of time before they can be destroyed. Do not destroy official records or documents without permission of your supervisor.

 

The Library of Virginia has prepared schedules for various types of records such as correspondence and financial records that are created in many state agencies. In each schedule, there is a brief descriptive title of the type of records, and information about the period for which records much be retained.

Schedules are accessible at: www.lva.virginia.gov/agencies/records/sched_state/index.htm.

 

All departments and offices must contact the University Records Officer before destroying any original or institutional files, series of records, or correspondence files. To meet this requirement, the department or office should submit State Form RM-3 (www.lva.virginia.gov/forms/rm-3inst.pdf) to the University Records Officer for review (Box 843030). The Records Officer will review the completed RM-3 for adherence to approved records retention and disposition schedules. After approving the form, the records Officer will notify the department to proceed with the destruction of the records.

 

Questions about specific record retention requirements should be directed to the University Records Officer in the Office of Technology Services at (804) 828-2103. For Grants and Contracts and research related items, contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at (804) 828-6772. For Human Subjects research and Animal Subjects research, contact the Office of Research Subjects Protection at (804) 828-0868.

 

Additional information is located at: http://ts.vcu.edu/kb/1947.html and www.lva.virginia.gov/agencies/records/manuals/vprmm.pdf (Virginia Public Records Management Manual).

 

Student Privacy. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their educational records:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student’s educational records within 45 days of the day the university receives a request for access.
  2. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading.
  3. The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.

One exception that permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff ); a person or company with whom the university has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Visitors; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.

 

Upon request, the university discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll; to specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes; to appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student; to accrediting organizations; to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena; to appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and to state and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific state law. Directory information may be released without a student's prior consent; this information is limited to:


• student name
• date admitted
• birthdate
• mailing address and telephone number
• local address and telephone number
• university e-mail address
• semesters of attendance
• major(s)
• minor
• specialization
• school
• full- or part-time status
• classification (freshman, sophomore, etc)
• degree sought
• honors and awards
• degrees and dates received
• participation in officially recognized intercollegiate sports, weight, height, hometown, parents' names and previous school(s) attended (for members of athletic teams)
• ID photograph
• Emergency Contact Information
• Student ID (V number)

  1. The right to file a complaint with the US Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Virginia Commonwealth University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

Additional information is located at: www.enrollment.vcu.edu/rar/registration/ferpa.html

FERPA Regulations can be found at: www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf.


Time Keeping. Each department is required to maintain a record of each employee’s authorized leave used during each pay period. For hourly employees, a record of hours worked for each pay period must be signed by the employee and supervisor indicating agreement. Original supporting documentation must be maintained in a secure location in the department for five (5) calendar years.

 

Faculty, staff, managers and timekeepers all play an important role in ensuring leave compliance. Employees earn leave before using it and, when possible, request approval in advance to use it. University business operating procedures prohibit tracking overtime or compensatory time “off the record.” Further, to receive compensation, overtime must be required and authorized by a manager. Employees support the institution’s timekeeping process by submitting approved leave requests promptly to their timekeepers; reviewing their leave advice statements on eServices Self Service Banner (SSB) every pay period for accuracy; and resolving leave discrepancies promptly with their timekeepers.

 

Faculty and staff are required to report time off to the manager in a timely manner, following departmental guidelines. Please note that to qualify for some benefits such as family and medical leave or long-term disability, you may be required to provide medical documentation of your illness and inability to work. Managers are responsible for ensuring that faculty and staff submit leave appropriately each pay period and that leave requests are addressed promptly. Lastly, timekeepers are responsible for documenting, reviewing and reconciling leave to ensure that it is properly recorded. Failure to reconcile leave information may result in inappropriate additions or subtractions to leave balances. See the Leave and Time Reporting Policy for more information. Complete leave and timekeeping guidelines are available at the following web address: www.hr.vcu.edu/payroll/leavetimekeeping.html.


Research

The pursuit, preservation and transferring of new knowledge must express the highest integrity of science and reflect the character and integrity of an institution and its faculty and students.  Misconduct in research and scholarly activities threatens these tenets and will not be tolerated at Virginia Commonwealth University.


The VCU Office of Research seeks to partner with faculty in all schools and departments as they seek funding, plan studies, establish collaborations, calculate budgets, submit grant applications, negotiate industry contracts, conduct research and secure patents and licensing agreements. VCU policies and Office of Research policies that are relevant to researchers planning and conducting research can be found at: www.research.vcu.edu/p_and_g.htm. The policies and guidelines located at this web address include the Office of Research human research protection program policy, conflict of interest disclosure, data ownership, policy for managing undue influence and clinical trials protocol registration. Additional regulatory and policy information can be obtained through each division within the Office of Research. See www.research.vcu.edu for access to the Offices of Sponsored Programs, Industry Partnerships, Technology Transfer, Research Subjects Protection, Education and Compliance Oversight and the Division of Animal Resources.


University-wide policies concerning research are available in the VCU Policy Library. These policies include conflict of interest and annual statement of economic interests, outside professional employment and activities policy, grants and contracts reference handbook, intellectual property policies, the VCU policy regarding misconduct in research and the IRB and IACUC Written Policies and Procedures. In addition, the VCU Research Compliance Matrix (www.research.vcu.edu/p_and_g/research_compliance.htm) provides an expanded view of all areas of responsible conduct of research, with navigational links to training programs, forms, and other resources.


Travel Guidelines

Travelers who are employees of the university must prepare a Travel Authorization (TA) for any trip in which the total cost is estimated to exceed $500. Travel Authorizations should include all costs related to the trip, regardless if expenses are to be direct billed or reimbursed to the individual traveler. Total costs include: airfare, baggage fees, lodging, ground transportation, meals, conference registration and any other travel costs or course fees. The TA must be approved by a VP Designee prior to purchasing the travel. If the travel is estimated to be greater than $2,000, it must be approved by the Dean. In areas that do not have a Dean, a Department Head may approve. The TA must accompany both the Travel Reimbursement Voucher (TERV) and any applicable direct-billed Vendor Payment vouchers. The authorization form can be found at the following address: www.vcu.edu/procurement/travel/pdf_docs/travel_authorization.xls, while the reimbursement form can be accessed at: www.vcu.edu/procurement/travel/pdf_docs/Travel_and_Food_Expense_Reimbursement_Voucher.xls.


Departments are only authorized to make purchases that are operationally necessary. There should be no discretionary travel using state funds that does not directly support the university’s core functions. All travel reimbursement requests must include a bona fide business justification and must pass the test of public scrutiny. Travel expenses for individuals (spouses, friends, etc.) or employees not on official business for the university are unallowable.


Meals and certain other incidental travel expenses are reimbursable only for overnight official business travel outside the traveler’s official station. Reimbursement for such expenses (including all related taxes and tips) shall be made to the traveler based on a fixed allowance. The fixed allowance is referred to as the meals and incidental expense (M&IE) per diem. The M&IE per diem used shall correspond to the location of the related overnight lodging. The applicable M&IE per diem, or fraction there of, is payable to the traveler without itemization of expense or receipts. Domestic per diem rates are located on  at: www.gsa.gov/portal/category/21287. Current foreign per diem rates can be accessed at: http://aoprals.state.gov/web920/per_diem.asp.


Lodging may be reimbursed when an employee is traveling on official business outside his/her official station. Government rates must always be requested by travelers and confirmed both at the time reservations are made and during check-in. Lodging limits must follow the per diem rate tables linked above. Lodging guidelines exclude local taxes and surcharges, which are reimbursable as an incurred expense. Exceptions require additional approvals. Expenses in excess of the guidelines will not be reimbursed, unless approved in advance as required in Approval and Exceptions. Travelers who do not plan with careful consideration to these guidelines will bear the additional expense personally. In such cases, taxes and surcharges will be prorated and reimbursed using the appropriate rate.


University faculty and staff may apply for a corporate travel card. This card is available to full time faculty and staff who travel on business, providing the ability to charge travel expenses. Application and request forms can be accessed on-line at: www.vcu.edu/procurement/card/travel/index.html. Although use of the corporate travel card is preferred, travel advances may be issued to university faculty and staff to pay for hotel rooms, car rental, meals and incidental travel expenses. There is a $25 fee, charged to the home department, for each travel advance check; however, advances will not be issued if expenses are estimated to be less than $100. If a travel advance is desired, a copy of the Travel Authorization must be received in Accounts Payable (Box 980327) at least ten working days prior to the departure date.


General travel guidelines are available at: www.vcu.edu/procurement/travel/index.html. More specific travel information, including allowed expenses and travel outside of the United States, can be found in the Travel and Reimbursement Policy and Procedures Manual. For additional questions, contact your supervisor or the Department of Procurement and Payment at (804) 828-1077.


Promoting a Safe, Healthy and Positive Working Environment

Employees must follow federal, state and local laws and university policies about handling hazardous materials and waste and ensuring safe working conditions. Staff members are required to report on-the-job or job related injuries immediately to their supervisor and forward a completed Accident Report Form to Employee Health Services within 24 hours..

 

Virginia Commonwealth University wishes for all employees and visitors to the University to work in a safe and healthy environment. VCU employees must perform their duties in compliance with all applicable institutional policies, federal, state and local laws and standards relating to the protection of worker health and safety, and are strongly encouraged to become familiar with how these laws, standards and policies apply to their specific job. In addition, volunteers and visitors should be aware of all safety procedures for their particular area. If you have any questions or would like clarification of such mandates, seek guidance from your supervisor or the Office Environmental Health & Safety as needed.

 

Prior to the first day of employment, the Worker’s Right to Know statement must be completed and signed by both the employee and appropriate supervisor. A copy of this form is to be maintained in the respective personnel file and a copy sent to OEHS. Each employee should report accidents, injuries or unsafe conditions either to the supervisor or the appropriate university office. All faculty, employees, volunteers and students should maintain a positive attitude toward safety at all times.

 

Information regarding VCU’s environmental health and safety policies and procedures may be obtained from the University-wide Policy Library under "Health and Safety" within the "Administrative & Operations" policy list.

 

Drugs, Alcohol and Weapons.  Employees may not have or use illegal drugs, alcohol or weapons on VCU property.

 

The unlawful manufacture, distribution, possession or use of a controlled substance in or on any premises or property owned or controlled by Virginia Commonwealth University, including vehicles, is prohibited. Any employee who is found guilty (including a plea of no contest) or has a sentence, fine or other criminal penalty imposed by a court for an offense involving a controlled substance that has occurred in or on VCU property shall report such action to his or her supervisor or to Human Resources within five days. Any employee who unlawfully manufactures, sells, distributes, possesses or uses a controlled substance on VCU property, regardless of whether such activity results in the imposition of a penalty under a criminal statute, will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action (VCU Alcohol and Drug Policy). Employees also are required to report to their supervisors in writing within five calendar days after conviction that they have been convicted of either of the following actions:

  • a violation of any criminal drug law, based upon conduct occurring either in or outside the workplace; or
  • a violation of any alcoholic beverage control law or law which governs driving while intoxicated, based upon conduct occurring in the workplace.

 

The use of alcohol on university property and/or at university functions must be authorized in accordance with applicable official university procedures, including the Procedures for Consumption and Distribution of Alcohol at university Events and in compliance with ABC laws and regulations. Faculty and staff who wish to sponsor an event where alcohol is served must secure the written approval of their dean or department head at least two weeks in advance of the event. For details, access the Alcohol Authorization Agreement: www.usca.vcu.edu/docs/VCU_Alcohol_Agreement.docx. The VCU Medical Center requires notification of any event on the VCU Medical Center at which alcohol will be present by means of this form: www.usca.vcu.edu/docs/MCV_Alcohol.pdf.

 

Virginia Commonwealth University also prohibits possessing, brandishing or using a weapon that is not required by the individual’s position while on state premises or engaged in state business.

 

Violation of any of the foregoing prohibitions may subject an employee to disciplinary action including, but not limited to, dismissal or suspension in accordance with the Employee Standards of Conduct, the University’s Rules and Procedures, the Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures, the University Policy for Administrative and Professional Faculty and Faculty Holding Administrative Appointments and/or any other applicable university procedure.

 

Environmental Concerns.  All employees will be trained to conduct their activities in an environmentally responsible manner. To accomplish this goal, OEHS provides optional and required training courses regarding chemical, radioactive, and biological waste disposal, storm water pollution prevention, as well as training to help employees become more aware of their environmental impacts and responsibilities. Many activities impacting our environment are regulated by federal and state law, permits and by policy and procedures. For guidance regarding your responsibilities or to report an activity that seems inconsistent with policy, please contact OEHS at (804) 828-6347. Additional information on environmental efforts at VCU is available at: www.vcugoesgreen.vcu.edu.

 

Installation of certain equipment, notably ethylene oxide sterilizers, requires state air pollution permits. If you are contemplating installing such equipment or perhaps other devices which might be regulated, beginning the permit request process early can avoid delays in your research.

 

Management of hazardous wastes is regulated by federal law which contains specific requirements for documentation, transportation, storage, disposal and documentation. It is a violation of federal law to manage hazardous wastes in a manner inconsistent with the VCU hazardous waste disposal program. This program is described in detail at the OEHS Chemical and Biological Safety web site at: www.vcu.edu/oehs/chemical. It is recommended that researchers review this site to become familiar with university waste disposal policies. In particular, there are disposal costs which must be borne by the researcher and foreknowledge of these may reduce your operating costs. The university as well as your laboratory is subject to regulatory inspection by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. For this reason, OEHS conducts annual assessments of laboratory hazardous waste management practices.

 

Sales Solicitation on Campus.Virginia Commonwealth University restricts solicitation by employees, vendors or sales representatives to minimize interference with the efficient operation of the organization and to protect the privacy of faculty, staff, students, patients and visitors.

 

The university does not permit the solicitation, distribution or selling of products or services of any kind at any time on university property by employees. Also, in accordance with the Privacy Protection Act, the university will not provide employee information (i.e., names, addresses, telephone numbers) to outside (non-vendor) companies, organizations or individuals for solicitation purposes.

 

Vendors may market their goods and services to departments in accordance with university regulations. External organizations and individuals who are not acting as vendors with goods or services for sale are prohibited from seeking contributions or pledges, including the distribution of printed materials, and conducting membership drives.

 

Fund-raising or sales activities sponsored by the university and approved by the President and/or appropriate Vice President are considered authorized functions and are not precluded. Examples include the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign, blood donation drives and the U. S. Savings Bond Campaign.

 

Anyone observed soliciting on university property should be reported to the department head or manager who should then determine whether such activity is authorized. For further information, see VCU's Solicitation Policy

 

See also the policy on Solicitation of Private Funds for Non-Sponsored Program Purposes.

 

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct.  Virginia Commonwealth University strictly prohibits acts of sexual harassment against any member of the university community. Acts of either verbal or physical sexual harassment will not be tolerated and will subject the person who commits such acts to disciplinary action under these guidelines and, possibly, other university policies and procedures. In addition, such acts could subject the violator to sanctions under federal and state laws and policies, including Titles VII and IX of the federal civil rights laws.

 

Informal complaints of sexual harassment may be verbal or in writing. Formal complaints must be submitted in writing. All such complaints should be directed to the Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Services (EEO/AA Services), Room 114, Ginter House, 901 W. Franklin St., P.O. Box 843022, Richmond, VA 23284-3022. Individuals desiring additional information or requiring special accommodation should call (804) 828-1347, Fax: (804) 828-7201 or VOICE TDD: (804) 828-1420. A complaint filed more than two years after an incident or event generally will not be considered to have been filed in a timely fashion.

 

Upon receipt of a complaint of sexual harassment, the university will take action appropriate to the charge presented by the complaint. Such action may take the form of investigation, counseling, informal meetings and/or resolution and/or formal discipline. Faculty or employees found to have engaged in either sexual harassment or sexual misconduct may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

 

It is unlawful for an employer or other covered entity to retaliate against someone who files a charge of discrimination/harassment, participates in an investigation or opposes discriminatory practices. Individuals who believe they have been retaliated against should contact EEO/AA Services immediately. Even if an individual has filed a charge of discrimination/harassment, he/she can file a new charge on the alleged retaliatory act(s).

 

Detailed information on sexual harassment including preventative online training is accessible at: www.vcu.edu/eeoaa/sexual_harass.html.

 

Smoking Policy. Virginia Commonwealth University has designated all university buildings as “no smoking.” In light of VCU’s diverse population of employees, students, patients and visitors, the university will accommodate, to the extent possible and with the assistance of these individuals, the needs of smokers and non-smokers through a mutually comfortable environment and designated smoking areas outside of university-owned buildings.

 

All VCU employees can help ensure that buildings remain smoke free by tactfully directing smokers to the nearest designated smoking areas, which are established a minimum of 25 feet away from front entrances of buildings. Employees may use designated outside smoking areas during their normal work breaks; however, smoking anywhere on the VCU Medical Center campus is strictly prohibited. Failure to abide by “no smoking” designations may result in disciplinary action as determined by employee supervisors. Please see the Smoking in the Workplace policy for more information.

 

In keeping with the institution’s medical, research and patient-care mission, VCU encourages individuals who smoke to avail themselves of alternative “no smoking” strategies (e.g., smoking-cessation classes).

 

Vehicle Safety.  University vehicles should be used only for matters relating to university business and university sponsored events. Note that no one, other than VCU employees and students, is authorized to be transported in a university vehicle unless in connection with university business, law enforcement matters, for medical purposes or as authorized by a Department Head or Dean. All persons who operate a university-owned vehicle must meet the requirements of the Vehicle Accident Prevention and Safety Program located at: www.vcu.edu/oehs/VCUvehiclesafety.pdf.

 

Smoking is prohibited in all vehicles, seatbelts must be worn at all times and cellular telephones should not be used while the vehicle is in motion.

 

Contact the Office of Fleet Management Services (www.dgs.virginia.gov/fleet.aspx) to inquire about the use of state-owned vehicles.

 

Workplace Violence.  The university is committed to using its best efforts to provide faculty, staff and students with an environment that is safe, secure and free from threats, intimidation and violence. To promote an atmosphere that encourages learning and productive employment, VCU will not tolerate the following conduct or behavior in the workplace:

  • Injuring another person physically
  • Engaging in threatening behavior that creates a reasonable fear of injury to another person
  • Engaging in threatening behavior that subjects another individual to undue emotional distress
  • Possessing, brandishing, or using a weapon that is not required by the individual’s position while on state premises or engaged in state business
  • Intentionally damaging property
  • Threatening to injure an individual or to damage property
  • Committing injurious acts motivated by, or related to, domestic violence or sexual harassment
  • Retaliating against any employee who, in good faith, reports a violation of the policy

Threats are unacceptable regardless of whether the person communicating the threat has the ability to carry them out, whether the threat is made on a present, conditional or future basis, or whether the threat is made in person, through another person, over the phone, in the mail or electronically.

 

As determined by their managers, individuals found to engage in behavior in the workplace that is in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination and criminal prosecution using existing policies and procedures (Threat Assessment & Violence Prevention Policy).

 

Any faculty or staff member who is aware of a threat, intimidating conduct or act of violence must report the incident as follows:

  • Reports of a faculty member - to his/her dean/department head or VP
  • Reports of a staff member – to Human Resources
  • Reports of a student - to his/her manager or Academic Dean/VP or designated contact and to the Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs
Emergencies should be reported to the VCU Police at (804) 828-1234. Faculty and staff working in off-campus locations (i.e., Northern Virginia or other state agencies) should report emergencies to local law enforcement.


Use of Computer Systems, Software and Network Resources

Use of computer and network resources for commercial purposes, other than university-approved business, is prohibited. Limited personal use of the university's computer and network resources for other purposes is permitted when it does not interfere with the performance of the user's job or other university responsibilities, and otherwise is in accordance with this policy. However, university-related uses take priority over personal uses when resources are inadequate to meet both demands. Further limits may be imposed upon personal use in accordance with accepted management principles. For further guidance on the use of computer/network resources, visit: www.ts.vcu.edu/policies/computeruse.html.

 

Employees are required to use reasonable care in protecting the safety and condition of Virginia Commonwealth University property and may be held responsible for its loss or destruction if they do not. State Law (§ 7.1-18.2 of the Code of Virginia) classifies damage to computer hardware or software (18.2-152.4), unauthorized examination (18.2-152.5) or unauthorized use (18.2-152.6) of computer systems as misdemeanor crimes. Employees are asked to direct any questions about the use of university property to their supervisor.

 

The university assigns to selected staff the responsibility for investigating alleged violations of applicable university, state and federal laws and regulations, and therefore, may monitor electronic activities and inspect data files and communications of individuals.


Computer Software.  Abide by all software licenses. Some software is licensed for individual computers, some is licensed for university-wide use and some is freely distributed over the Internet. It is the employee’s responsibility to know which licensing scheme applies and to make no unauthorized copies of software.

 

Employees who use software licensed to Virginia Commonwealth University on university or personally-owned computers must abide by applicable software license agreements, and may copy licensed software only as permitted by the license. Questions regarding applicable software license agreements should be forwarded to appropriate supervisors or to Technology Services at www.ts.vcu.edu depending on the product involved.

 

Computer System Access and Passwords.  Access to computer and network resources is restricted to authorized individuals as defined by the appropriate organizational unit. Accounts and passwords, when required, are assigned to specific individuals and may not, unless properly authorized by the university, be shared with, or used by, other persons within or outside the university.

 

Actions that harass, threaten, or otherwise cause harm to individuals are prohibited. Respect for the rights of others is fundamental to ethical behavior at VCU. Actions that threaten or cause harm to other individuals are violations of both VCU policies and of Virginia and federal law. Such actions may be prosecuted through both the university judicial process and, independently, in state or federal court (Va. Code § 2.2-2827).

 

Actions that impede, impair or otherwise interfere with the activities of others are prohibited. University computer and network resources are shared, and misuse of a particular resource can have a negative impact on other users. Accordingly, the university may require users to limit or refrain from specific uses. Intentional misuse or damage to resources is prohibited.

 

Actions which download or post to university computers, or transport across university networks, material that is illegal, proprietary or in violation of university contracts are prohibited. Actions performed using the university's computer and network resources, regardless of any disclaimers that might be made, ultimately reflect on the university community as a whole. Violations of copyright, licenses, personal privacy, or publishing obscene materials or child pornography may result in civil or criminal legal actions as well as university disciplinary actions (Va. Code § 2.2-2827).

 

Further information on the Commonwealth of Virginia’s policy can be found by accessing: www.dhrm.virginia.gov/hrpolicy/pol175UseOfInternet.pdf

 

E-mail Usage.  All use of e-mail is required to be consistent with university policies and local, state and federal law, including the VCU Computer and Network Resources Use Policy, VCUnet Security Policy and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). Limited personal usage of VCU e-mail accounts is permitted; however, university-related uses take priority over personal uses when resources are inadequate to meet both demands.

 

To ensure the security of network resources, certain e-mail attachments may be blocked. Many viruses send Zip files in e-mail attachments, which spread the virus when opened. Therefore, Zip files are blocked on the VCU e-mail system. To bypass this security measure in order to send legitimate information, the file can be renamed temporarily. For information on how to rename a Zip file, please refer to: www.ts.vcu.edu/faq/email/attachments.html. A comprehensive list of blocked extensions, can be found by accessing: http://beech.vcu.edu/das/homepage.nsf/BlockedExtensions?OpenPage

 

Regarding broadcast e-mails, authorization must come from the President; one of the vice presidents; the CEO of the VCU Health System; the COO, VCU Health System; or the COO, Clinical Enterprise for their area of responsibility. For further details, please review the Broadcast or Mass Mail Policy.

 

Information Security and Confidentiality.  Information from Virginia Commonwealth University files, records and computer systems used to access that information may be used only for official state purposes. Every employee has a responsibility to maintain the security and confidentiality of university information and resources, to prevent accidental or unauthorized disclosure and to comply with information security policies and procedures. Note that student records and health records are subject to additional legal safeguards which are available by accessing the Health System Policy and Procedure Manual.

 

Although the university recognizes the role of privacy in higher education, and every attempt will be made to honor that ideal, users must be aware that any communication and electronic storage utilizing university-owned computer and network resources may not remain confidential and may potentially be disclosed under the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and other state and federal laws and regulations, as well as university policies and procedures. All requests for employee information should be referred to Human Resources for response to ensure compliance with the Privacy Protection Act and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

 

In accordance with the State Freedom of Information Act and Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act, the following information is considered public information and requires disclosure when requested by third parties:

  • Job classification and/or position title
  • Dates of employment
  • Annual salary or rate of pay (above $10,000)

In addition the data above, VCU will provide information required by subpoena or other court orders. Any other information or personal data does not require disclosure when requested, unless the employee has consented in writing to its release. For further information, refer to the Maintenance and Release of Employment and Personal Information policy or contact VCU Technology Services at (804) 828-1177.



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