Penn State Values: Integrity

Often in this section of our weekly memo, I discuss things that I have been thinking about and need to concentrate on for myself and the department. For the past few months, I have been thinking about Penn State Values and what they mean to us as a department in our daily lives. In particular, I have been thinking about how I can more fully embody them and promote them as a standard for everyone in the department. I believe that all members of our department strive to manifest the Penn State Values although we are human and sometimes fall short. Bench marking our adherence to these standards and hold ourselves accountable for these values is the first step.

In the coming months, we will be having some activities to help us explore Penn State Values. These workshops coupled to evaluations and climate surveys should help us to identify the areas where we need help in fully upholding and demonstrating these values. Our department will be stronger when everyone engages in these activities and shares their experiences of the times that we succeed and the places that we fall short. Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to review the Penn State Values to begin to prime the pump.

According to the Penn State Values, “INTEGRITY: We act with integrity and honesty in accordance with the highest academic, professional, and ethical standards.” The author So-Young Kang says that we often misunderstand the meaning of integrity and she describes integrity as integrating the various parts of ourselves into one complete person. She defines three myths that keep us from increasing our application the principle of integrity:

1) Integrity = just being honest
2) Balanced and compartmentalized life = life of integrity
3) Being in integrity = natural, effortless, just ‘part of who you are’

There are other ways of understanding integrity. I had a colleague who used to talk about being out of integrity with someone when someone reacted in a way that made the other person feel less comfortable in our workplace. This colleague always did the hard thing of going to talk to the person afterward, to bring himself back into integrity with them. This is not effortless and some people avoid having the conversations that would bring them back into integrity. Sometimes you are out of integrity with someone and they don’t want to have this conversation with you or be back in integrity with you right away. Patience is sometimes required.

Below are examples of integrity adapted from the Penn State Values page.

  • Maintaining confidentiality when dealing with issues that require discretion.
  • Reporting things that happen in a fair and accurate way.
  • Conducting research in accordance with federal and PSU regulations on ethical research.
  • Appropriate credit given for work.
  • Academic integrity and Honor Codes.
  • Employee Assistance Program provides confidential services for help in our private and professional lives.
  • Following through with investigating breaches of integrity to demonstrate that we value integrity.
  • Full engagement with PSU SARI training.
  • You@PSU performance review process placing greater emphasis on integrity and other values to meet personal goals.
  • Bringing forward the concerns of students around times when we fail to manifest the Penn State Values.
  • Not exaggerating our descriptions of situations.
  • Using copyright for software and other resources appropriately.
  • Informing, educating, and holding students, staff, and faculty accountable to the professional ethical standards of their chosen major fields.
  • Increased transparency of budgets and the budget process in our unit.

I am certain that we all have room for improvement and I would like for each of us to take the time to think about where we might make progress. We can start by asking ourselves: what functions could I do with more integrity; with whom am I currently out of integrity and what would I need to do to get back into integrity with them; and what am I not doing with as much integrity as I should because it is hard.

Here is hoping that you are able to integrate all the parts of yourself this week.



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