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John Harvard's Journal

Veritas Values

November-December 2002

Prompted by the Harvard Committee on Employment and Contracting Policies—the group formed in response to the "living wage" protests in the spring of 2001—the University has adopted a "Statement of Values." The statement, endorsed by the Academic Advisory Group (president, provost, and deans), "identifies a set of basic values that should inform work at Harvard," wrote President Lawrence H. Summers in a cover letter when the text (below) was disseminated in late August.

Harvard University aspires to provide education and scholarship of the highest quality—to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to prepare individuals for life, work, and leadership. Achieving these aims depends on the efforts of thousands of faculty, students, and staff across the University. Some of us make our contribution by engaging directly in teaching, learning, and research, others of us, by supporting and enabling those core activities in essential ways. Whatever our individual roles, and wherever we work within Harvard, we owe it to one another to uphold certain basic values of the community. These include:

*Respect for the rights, differences, and dignity of others

*Honesty and integrity in all dealings

*Conscientious pursuit of excellence in one's work

*Accountability for actions and conduct in the workplace

The more we embrace these values in our daily lives, the more we create and sustain an environment of trust, cooperation, lively inquiry, and mutual understanding—and advance a commitment to education and scholarship, which all of us share.

Within the Harvard community, sharp differences in culture and status have long divided faculty members from others, and professional staff employees from clerical, technical, and support workers. The employment committee's recommendations on salaries, benefits, and educational opportunities for unionized service employees were meant to address some of the more glaring differences (see "Living Wage: Next Stage," March-April, page 58). So was its call for a statement of values that would cross boundaries in the University workforce.

In promulgating the statement, Summers wrote, "All who work at Harvard, regardless of rank or position, contribute in vital ways to education and scholarship." To ensure that policies and practices align with this principle, he also announced a plan to appoint an ombudsman available to "anyone in the University community concerned about workplace conditions."