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Office of the President

Norms and Values

The following is a list of norms and values that I have shared and shaped through discussions with our senior leadership team of vice presidents, deans, and directors. I invite everyone in the UConn community to take a look at them, discuss them, and possibly shape them to fit your own organizations. I have been so impressed with the strong sense of community at UConn, indeed it was one of the biggest attractors for me in coming here. I also believe that we collectively can and must continually work to support the environment and culture we value, one in which each member of our community can thrive and feel recognized and rewarded for their unique contributions to our mission of education, research, and care.   

1. Treat everyone with respect. Praise in public; criticism in private (in person, constructive).

2. Be bold but responsible with risk — learning and leading require experimentation and sometimes failure. Try to make new mistakes.

3. Support a culture of reporting at all levels. If you know something wrong and don’t report it through our channels, then the University knew and did nothing. And that’s not acceptable to any of us.

4. Assume goodwill.

This is a personal as well as general request. I am in a steep learning curve as President and expect to make mistakes (hopefully new ones!). If I make a decision or take an action that slights anyone or steps on your turf, please know that is not my intent.

5. Foster all forms of diversity, including intellectual.

This is of course both a moral and competitive imperative.

6. Embrace dissent.

This is at the heart of academic freedom, a compound value supporting pursuit of truth and supporting dissent as a means for pursuing it. We must be unafraid to speak out for what we believe, but we must be equally unafraid to listen and try to understand the views of others whose perspectives may be different from our own.

7. Practice consultative and transparent decision making.

This is the most effective way to tap into the collective wisdom that we have in abundance here, as well as to maximize the engine that powers a great university.

8. Strive to do the right thing, especially when it’s hard. In deciding right vs. right, be guided by our highest values (truth, excellence, fairness, and respect) and our Mission (benefitting students, then the state and society at large).

As I like to tell students, ethical dilemmas are not between right and wrong (in those cases, you know what to do). They are between right and right. We are confronted with such decisions all the time. For example, we are committed to providing excellent and affordable education, and those two are in natural tension. I hope the first line above gives you courage and the second gives you useful guidance.