Journal Articles

Codes of conduct in academia: New directions for higher education number 160, winter 2012

Categories: Book Review, Issue 33(2)

Book by John Braxton & Nathaniel Bray
Review by Leah R. Kicinski
College of Community and Public Service Undergraduate Advising Center
Grand Valley State University



Professionals abide by a set of standards that supersede specific institutions and create common values for accountability. Institutions of higher education employ codes of conduct at all administration levels and codes are often specific to the institution and guided by professional associations. Addressing codes of conduct for presidents, academic deans, graduate and undergraduate faculty members, admissions officers and fund-raising professionals; this book evaluates these codes based on tenets specific to those positions. Included also is an empirical study to evaluate the similarities in codes of conduct between 4-year liberal arts institutions both public and private. 

While we would hope that codes of conduct were not necessary, they act as an insurance policy for individuals interacting with professional staff on a daily basis. They protect those we serve ensuring best practices among the profession; they are only as effective as we are at enforcing them. Codes of conduct function as living documents and the authors suggest that these codes should be assessed for relevance and applicability to the institution and the profession. This book would be most relevant for administration looking to assess codes at their institution, for individuals looking to gain a different perspective on institutional leadership, those looking to advance in academia, or those serving on search committees to fill open institutional positions. 

The strength of the text is the survey of codes for the different academic positions at institutions. An empirical analysis of these codes across institutions shows the connection between the codes and the professional associations while offering support for development of codes. Codes of conduct do nothing if they are not implemented and evaluated, leading to another strength of the text; offering suggestions for successful implementation of codes at the various levels of the institution. Two positions that were assessed, admissions officers and fund-raisers felt disconnected considering the other positions that were addressed like the presidents or deans. These two positions felt thrown into the book and are not necessarily academic in nature. Codes of conduct are equally important since these professionals represent the institution to stakeholders just as much as the more academic positions. No matter what level one works at in an institution, codes are valuable. An area to include might be what all of these codes of conduct have in common; whether it is for a university president or an admissions officer. Surly there are differences between them but it is important to remember that all staff work together for one common purpose; the education of students.


Codes of conduct in academia: New directions for higher education number 160, winter 2012. (2013). Book by John Braxton & Nathaniel Bray (Eds.). Review by Leah R. Kicinski. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 104 pp. $29.00. ISBN 978-1-1185-3775-6