Date: November 18, 2013
To: All Faculty, Staff and Administrators
From: Vivian Fernández
Vice President for Faculty & Staff Resources
Re: IMPORTANT -- Ethics Guidelines for Holiday Gifts and Receptions

As a public institution of higher education and the State University of New Jersey, Rutgers has established policies which reflect our commitment as a responsible steward of the public trust and as an model of academic integrity. During the holiday season, it is especially important to review university policies regarding the receipt of gifts or other items of value, as it is common for vendors doing business with the university to show appreciation for their customers by distributing gifts or extending invitations to social events.

In order to determine the appropriateness of a gift, employees should refer to the Code of Ethics for Administrative and Professional Staff Members policy and Conflicts of Interest – Faculty policy. These policies establish parameters for the acceptance of gifts or participation in social events sponsored by individuals or organizations that conduct business with the university.

As a general rule, employees may accept gifts of nominal value, such as complimentary calendars, pens, or other items that would be offered to the general public through mass mailings. However, these may only be accepted if their use does not create the impression of an endorsement. Employees may not accept personal gifts or items of value from individuals or organizations that conduct business with the university. If an employee does receive such items, they must be returned. Perishable items received as gifts may be donated to a local charity instead of returning them to the vendor.

In all cases, a note should be sent to the vendor explaining why the gift could not be accepted, and indicating whether the gift is enclosed for return or has been donated to charity. Employees also should refrain from attending vendor holiday parties and receptions that primarily serve a social purpose. More information about the handling of vendor gifts can be accessed by visiting

Please refer to the Rutgers University Office of the General Counsel Ethics Website for more detail on what is considered appropriate conduct by university employees.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.