July 19, 2001
University Park, Pa. – Thousands of new Penn State freshmen are receiving more than the customary welcome letter from President Graham Spanier. The new freshmen are the first to receive a copy of the University’s new “Penn State Principles.”

            The statement of principles, developed over the past 15 months, are intended to promote the development of character, conscience, citizenship and social responsibility – themes President Spanier has articulated since he took office at Penn State in 1995.

            “These are important educational goals, and I encourage students to take advantage of the many opportunities they will find at the University to build the personal framework that will give meaning to their life long after they have left Penn State,” Spanier said.

            “The Principles reflect important values of our University that have evolved from our history and tradition. They also look forward,” Spanier said, “and represent a statement of expectations for new members of the University community.”

            The Penn State Principles include four key statements:

            1) I will respect the dignity of all individuals within the Penn State community;

            2  I will practice academic integrity;

            3) I will demonstrate social and personal responsibility;

            4) I will be responsible for my own academic progress and agree to comply with all University policies.

The idea of the principles was conceived by President Spanier in the spring of 2000, and since that time has evolved as input was received by senior university administrators, Faculty Senate leaders, and student leaders. All freshmen starting this fall at all campuses will receive copies of the Principles.

            The first wave of letters went out in recent weeks to freshmen who started at the University this summer. During the start of the fall semester the principles will be rolled out broadly to other students and throughout the community. All faculty and staff will receive copies this summer. There will be copies posted in residence halls and in public places on campus, and University web sites will display them as well.

            “A few other universities around the country have done something similar and report that having such a statement conveys an important message about the kinds of expectations we have as a university,” Spanier said.

            In his letter to incoming freshmen President Spanier encourages them to share the document with family members” so that they are also aware of the expectations we have for new students.”

            In future years the Penn State Principles will be shared with students long before they start their University experience. They will be mailed to students with their original admission letter to let them know what to expect as they think about their college choices.

            Although the Penn State Principles are a concrete form of themes the University has promoted for some time, they may be particularly timely given some of the events of the past school year.

            “We often speak of the ‘Penn State Family’ and we hope you will come to feel that you are joining an extended family,” Spanier says in his letter to freshmen. “I ask you to join our current students, faculty, staff and alumni to create a caring and open learning community.

            “The choices you make, starting right now, will determine your future as well as the character and reputation of our University.

            “If we are going to continue to build Penn State’s reputation around the nation and world, we will need the full participation of everyone in the University,” Spanier said.



The Pennsylvania State University is a community dedicated to personal and academic excellence. The Penn State Principles embody the values that our students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni possess. It is understood that members of the Penn State community agree to abide by the Principles to ensure that Penn State is a thriving environment for living and learning. By endorsing these common principles, members of the community contribute to the traditions and scholarly heritage left by those who preceded them and promise to leave Penn State a better place for those who follow.

I will respect the dignity of all individuals within the Penn State community.
The University is committed to creating and maintaining an educational environment that respects the right of all individuals to participate fully in the community. Actions motivated by hate, prejudice, or in-tolerance violate this principle. I will not engage in any behaviors that compromise or demean the dignity of individuals or groups, including intimidation, stalking, harassment, discrimination, taunting, ridiculing, insulting, or acts of violence. I will demonstrate respect for others by striving to learn from differences between people, ideas, and opinions and by avoiding behaviors that inhibit the ability of other community members to feel safe or welcome as they pursue their academic goals.

I will practice academic integrity.
Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at Penn State University, allowing the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner. In accordance with the University's Code of Conduct, I will practice integrity in regard to all academic assignments. I will not engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception because such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.

I will demonstrate social and personal responsibility.
The University is a community that promotes learning; any behaviors that are inconsistent with that goal are unacceptable. Irresponsible behaviors, including alcohol or drug abuse and the use of violence against people or property, undermine the educational climate by threatening the physical and mental health of members of the community. I will exercise personal responsibility for my actions and I will make sure that my actions do not interfere with the academic and social environment of the University. I will maintain a high standard of behavior by adhering to the Code of Conduct and respecting the rights of others.

I will be responsible for my own academic progress and agree to comply with all University policies.
The University allows students to identify and achieve their academic goals by providing the information needed to plan the chosen program of study and the necessary educational opportunities, but students assume final responsibility for course scheduling, program planning, and the successful completion of graduation requirements. I will be responsible for seeking the academic and career information needed to meet my educational goals by becoming knowledgeable about the relevant policies, procedures, and rules of the University and academic program, by consulting and meeting with my adviser, and by successfully completing all of the requirements for graduation.