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University of Michigan Statement on Stewardship

Stewardship Responsibilities in the Management of Human, Financial, Physical and Information Resources

Professional Responsibility Statement


Individual Expectations

Stewardship: "The careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care." Merriam-Webster's Online Collegiate Dictionary, 2001.

As someone with administrative or supervisory responsibilities, you have a stewardship responsibility to support and enhance the mission of the University, to ensure that the University fulfills its legal and financial obligations to internal and external stakeholders, to safeguard the University's financial, human, information and physical assets, and to create an atmosphere that encourages all members of the University community to contribute to the overall excellence of the University.

This statement outlines your fundamental responsibilities inherent in functioning as a steward of University resources. It is intended to introduce these responsibilities to employees who are new to the University or their roles, and to guide longer-term employees. This statement on stewardship refers you to University documents and offices where you will find assistance regarding specific policies and procedures or forms. In addition, each campus and major unit has its own policies and procedures that are consistent with and supplemental to those that apply University-wide.

Contents In Brief

  1. Stewardship of Human Resources
  2. Stewardship of Financial Resources
  3. Stewardship of Physical Resources, the Environment and Safety
  4. Stewardship of Information
  5. Compliance with Legal Obligations
  6. Protection and Assistance Afforded by the University

Stewardship of Human Resources

It is vital that the University foster learning, creativity and productivity, and support the vigorous exchange of ideas and information, not only in the classroom but in the work place environment as well. Stewardship of the University's human resources involves creating a work environment in which people treat each other with respect and dignity, regardless of their roles, responsibilities or differences. Further, it involves providing others with support, direction, and resources to allow them to accomplish the responsibilities of their jobs and to reach the goals that you set with them for professional and personal growth. As a steward of human resources your fundamental responsibilities, professionally and personally, include:

  • Learning, following and upholding the University's policies in human resource management, diversity and affirmative action, including applicable external policies, and governmental and regulatory requirements.
  • Maintaining high ethical standards and demonstrating integrity, honesty and trustworthiness in all that you do as a representative of the University.
  • Respecting the academic and scholarly mission of the University as well as the diverse contributions of each employee that, directly or indirectly, help the University achieve its mission.
  • Creating a positive and healthy work environment that will foster creativity, teamwork, collaboration and productivity among members of the University community.
  • Hiring and retaining qualified and productive employees.
  • Maintaining internal title and salary equity.
  • Maintaining effective and efficient work processes that support the decentralized organization of the University, and minimizing waste and duplication.
  • Seeking ways to continuously improve and innovate the work processes that you control or in which you participate. This includes openly sharing improvement strategies and lessons to help others learn from your experiences.
  • Practicing open and direct communication in the workplace with empathy for other perspectives and reactions.
  • Exerting a positive influence in the work place through your words and deeds.
  • Participating in candid, developmentally oriented performance discussions to identify the progress that you and others are making in meeting assigned responsibilities and moving towards future goals. This includes creating professional development plans to assist others in the acquisition of new skills and knowledge through education, training, networking and mentoring.
  • Creating a work place where members share responsibility for supporting its missions and receive appropriate recognition for their contributions.
  • Maintaining the confidentiality of University human resource data and information as required.
  • Managing outside affiliations in a manner that is non-competitive with the University's missions.
  • Seeking an appropriate work-life balance as a way of ensuring personal and professional effectiveness for you and for others.
  • Developing and sharing information on career paths and ladders.

For further information, contact the Human Resources representative in your unit or the Human Resources office on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn or Flint campuses, access the University Human Resources website or the Standard Practice Guide. Some of the specific sections of the Standard Practice Guide that may be helpful to you are as follows: Section 201.7 Salary Program; Section 201.8 Grievance Procedure and Dispute Resolution; Section 201.9 Consultation and Conciliation; Section 201.12 Discipline - Performance and Conduct Standards; Section 201.14 Faculty and Staff Assistance Program; Section 201.41 Performance Evaluations; Section 201.69 Tuition Support Program; Section 201.82 EEO - Affirmative Action Policy.

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Stewardship of Financial Resources

The University of Michigan's financial statements are prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and are audited annually against those standards by an independent accounting firm. Stewardship of the University's financial resources is the responsibility of all employees. For people with administrative or supervisory responsibilities, financial stewardship typically includes developing, implementing, maintaining and following proper administrative and accounting procedures, as well as complying with all relevant governmental and regulatory requirements. As a steward, your fundamental responsibilities include:

  • Learning, following and upholding financial and other policies and procedures established by the University and external regulatory agencies.
  • Developing processes and procedures in accordance with record retention requirements established by the University and external regulatory agencies.
  • Constructing budgets based on a thorough analysis of need that conforms to University guidelines and processes.
  • Expending or committing funds within approved University budgets as well as donor, grantor, and regulatory guidelines using appropriate financial, accounting, purchasing, and other approved University procedures, and maintaining records appropriate to these transactions.
  • Using Procurement Services to ensure fair and competitive prices. Utilizing the appropriate method to select the provider (including the use of strategic contracts) and ensure the appropriate approval process is followed.
  • Monitoring your current expenditures and revenues regularly for accountability purposes including the proper reporting of time and effort, correct payment of wages to employees and payments to vendors, and having a valid business purpose for all expenditures.
  • Establishing internal controls to ensure that transactions are appropriately executed and recorded, including segregation of duties to maintain appropriate checks and balances. Guidance for internal controls can be found at http://www.finance.umich.edu/controls.
  • Providing proper management oversight that can help identify control weaknesses that can lead to waste, misuse, misappropriation or destruction of assets (including data and data integrity) and taking action to correct such weaknesses.
  • Reporting to an appropriate University authority all suspected or known misappropriations, misuses, destruction of assets (including data and data integrity) and conflicts of interest. Reports can also be made through the University Compliance Hotline.
  • Maintaining the confidentiality of University financial and personnel information as required.
  • Performing periodic internal reviews such as the annual gap analysis and Internal Controls Certification process to ensure continued compliance with University financial policies and administrative and accounting procedures.
  • Maintaining systems security and a secure computer environment for financial and other University records.

For additional information, contact the financial or business manager in your unit, or visit the Business and Finance website  You can also contact:

Any inappropriate use of University assets should be brought to the attention of University Audits. The Standard Practice Guide (SPG) provides more detailed information about many of the above Stewardship statements. Some of the specific financial-related SPGs can be found in the Business and Financial Services section such as 500.01 Fiscal Responsibilities and 507.01 Purchasing General Policies and Procedures.

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Stewardship of Physical Resources, the Environment and Safety

The physical resources that constitute the buildings, grounds and equipment of the University of Michigan are among its most valuable resources. These physical assets have been created or acquired over many years and represent to the general public and to the citizens of the State of Michigan the physical embodiment of the University. As a steward your fundamental responsibilities include:

  • Learning, following and upholding University policies dealing with physical resources, the environment, equipment and safety.
  • Promoting a safe, healthy and sustainable environment for members of the University community, visitors and others.
  • Protecting, preserving and maintaining the physical assets for which you are responsible in a manner that assures their continued existence in the best possible condition.
  • Promoting the efficient utilization of space, utilities and natural resources.
  • Participating in the responsible occupancy and operation of University buildings, offices, classrooms, equipment, etc.
  • Disposal of University assets in a responsible manner that follows University guidelines.

For additional information, contact the Office of the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer on the Ann Arbor Campus, the Office of Business Affairs on the Dearborn Campus, or the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration on the Flint campus. The Standard Practice Guide (SPG) provides more detailed information about many of the above Stewardship statements. Some of the specific SPG references are as follows: Section 510.1-2 Department of Public Safety and Security; Section 511.1 Transportation Services; Section 514.1 Parking Operations; and Section 605.1 Occupational Safety and Environmental Health Policy. You may also wish to access the Business and Finance website.

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Stewardship of Information and Technology Resources

As an employee of the University, you have access to various sources and types of information and supporting technologies in order to complete the responsibilities of your job. Your use of the information and of the technology that support electronic information is governed by local, state, and federal policies. Much of the information the University keeps about individual students, alumni, patients, and employees is considered sensitive, confidential and private, and must be handled accordingly.

Standards and policies have been established to govern the access, release and use of the University's information resources. To receive access to the University's electronic information resources, you must receive training in the standards and policies related to appropriate handling and use of the data, and you must sign an access and compliance form indicating your understanding and acceptance of the University's policies. Staff members who misuse or abuse their access to information and technology resources are subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal.

As a steward of information resources, your fundamental responsibilities include:

  • Understanding and abiding by the principles of data access, privacy and management.
  • Handling all university data according to the University's data management policies, regardless of whether the data relate to your department or to another University department.
  • Learning, following and upholding the laws and policies that protect information from unauthorized access, alteration, disclosure or destruction.
  • Storing information you obtain under secure conditions and making every reasonable effort to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the data.
  • Disposing of confidential data, when you are done using them, in an appropriate manner.
  • Interpreting and presenting data you access in a professional, accurate manner.
  • Prior to sharing data with others, ensuring that the recipient is authorized to access/ view such information and understands his/her responsibility as a user.
  • Establishing procedures and practices for purging and archiving data, taking into account requirements for maintaining, preserving, securing and accessing historical data.
  • Collecting data with careful consideration to the amount of information needed to serve a defined, legitimate and current institutional purpose.
  • Using data only for the purpose for which they were collected.
  • Sharing data appropriately but widely with other members of the University community to avoid unnecessary duplication.

A complete list of current policies related to information technology and security is available at Information Technology Policies at the University of Michigan. For additional information, contact the Office of the Chief Information Officer,  the U-M Dearborn Chief Technology Officer, or the U-M Flint Director of Information Technology Services

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Compliance With Legal Obligations

The University of Michigan has substantial legal and financial responsibilities in its capacities as a major employer, facility manager and recipient of federal, state and private funds. Stewardship entails heeding policies and procedures designed to comply with the University's legal requirements. As a steward, your fundamental responsibilities include:

  • Reviewing and observing all University-wide policies and procedures, as well as those specifically governing your campus or administrative unit.
  • Becoming familiar with and observing all policies, procedures and legal requirements imposed on the University as the result of accreditation, or from having accepted external funds, or that result from being a public entity.
  • Maintaining the confidentiality of University information as required by University policies and applicable laws.
  • Refraining from all possible infractions or incidents that may create or have created possible liability for the University or its representatives and reporting any such circumstances to an appropriate University official.
  • Maintaining accurate and complete documents as required by the University and regulatory agencies to comply with fiduciary requirements.
  • Advising the chief executive of your campus or of the central administrative offices as well as the Office of the General Counsel of any communication relating to the University from attorneys who do not represent the University of Michigan.

For additional information, contact: the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel on the Ann Arbor campus.

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Protection and Assistance Afforded by the University

  • While every situation must be evaluated on its own merits, it is the University's policy to defend and indemnify employees who become parties to legal proceedings by virtue of their good faith efforts to perform the responsibilities of their employment.
  • Employees who fail to adhere to University standards and policies compromise the institution and their colleagues, as well as themselves. You should consult policy and procedure sources, as well as your administrator or manager for guidance about properly fulfilling your stewardship responsibilities.

For additional information, contact: the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel. Refer also to SPG Section 601.9, the Defense and Indemnification policy.

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