Whistleblower Policy


Policy Statement

Washington and Lee University ("the University") has a responsibility for the stewardship of its resources and the private support that enables it to pursue its mission. The Board and administration are committed to compliance with the laws and regulations to which the University is subject and to promulgating University policies and procedures to interpret and apply these laws and regulations in the University setting.

The University's internal controls and operating procedures are intended to detect and to prevent or deter fraudulent or dishonest conduct, and/or violations of law (referred to hereinafter as "Improper Activities"). However, even the best systems of control cannot provide absolute safeguards against improper activities. Intentional and unintentional Improper Activities may occur. The University will investigate good faith allegations of suspected Improper Activities and may take appropriate remedial action including but not limited to disciplining anyone found to have engaged in Improper Activities, up to and including dismissal from the University. W&L reserves the right to refer such conduct for civil and criminal prosecution.

All members of the W&L community are encouraged to report possible Improper Activities. Employees (including student employees) should report concerns to their supervisor/department head. Students not working for the University should report their concerns to the supervisor/department head of the University employee whom they believe to be engaging in Improper Activity. Supervisors/department heads are required to report any concerns brought to them, and any situations in which they suspect Improper Activities, to their Vice President, the relevant Dean, or the Provost. If, for any reason, an individual finds it difficult to report his/her concerns to the relevant supervisor/department head, he/she may report the matter to the relevant Dean or Vice President, or directly to the Office of General Counsel.


This policy applies to all members of the W&L community, but does not apply to reporting of suspected child abuse and/or neglect (which is separately addressed in the University's Protocol for Mandatory Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect).


Baseless Allegations - Allegations made with the knowledge of their falsity or reckless disregard for their truth.

Improper Activities - The following constitute a non-exclusive list of Improper Activities:

  1. Fraudulent or Dishonest Conduct - A deliberate act or failure to act with the intention of obtaining an unauthorized benefit from the University. Examples of such conduct include, without limitation:
    • Forgery or alteration of any documents
    • Unauthorized alteration or manipulation of computer files
    • Fraudulent financial reporting
    • Pursuit of a benefit or advantage in violation of the University's Conflict of Interest Policy
    • Misappropriation or misuse of University resources, including funds, supplies, or other assets
    • Authorization or receipt of compensation for services not received or not performed, or hours not worked; and
  2. violations of law.

Whistleblower - An individual who submits a good faith report of suspected Improper Activities in accordance with this Policy, or who assists in any investigation or proceeding regarding potential Improper Activities.



Supervisors/Department Heads are required to notify their Vice President, the relevant Dean, the Provost, or General Counsel of reports/concerns of suspected Improper Activities.

Supervisors/Department Heads should take reasonable care in dealing with allegations of Improper Activities to avoid:

  • Baseless allegations
  • Premature notice to persons suspected of Improper Activities and/or disclosure of such suspected conduct to others not involved in the investigation
  • Violations of whistleblower protection

Accordingly, a supervisor/department head who is informed of suspected Improper Activities should NOT contact the person suspected and should NOT discuss the matter with anyone other than the VP/Dean/Provost or the Office of General Counsel.

Once the VP/Dean/Provost/General Counsel is aware of any suspected Improper Activities, he/she will assess the allegations to see that they are not baseless and made in good faith and will then conduct or direct that an investigation be conducted, reach a conclusion on whether the Improper Activity occurred, and proceed to take whatever action, including disciplinary measures, he/she deems appropriate. In handling reports, suspected Improper Activities should not be disclosed to those not involved in the investigation or who do not have a need to know.

The Office of General Counsel will serve as a resource to the VP/Dean/Provost throughout the investigation and handling of the matter. The VP/Dean/Provost will prepare a report summarizing the suspected Improper Activity, the investigation, the conclusion, and the actions taken, and submit it to the Office of General Counsel, who will retain such record for the purpose of documenting resolution of reported alleged Improper Activity. If the Office of General Counsel, upon review of the report, believes that the matter has not been sufficiently addressed, the Office of General Counsel may take further action, including but not limited to reporting or forwarding the matter to the Chair of the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees for review. 

If the VP/Dean/Provost, upon receipt of a report of Improper Activity, for any reason feels uncomfortable handling the matter, he/she may forward the report to the Office of General Counsel and request that the Office of General Counsel review, investigate (as appropriate) and resolve the matter.


The University and its employees may not retaliate against a whistleblower with the intent or effect of adversely affecting the terms and conditions of employment (including, without limitation, threats of physical harm, loss of job, punitive work assignments, impact on salary or wage). A whistleblower who believes that he/she has been retaliated against may file a written complaint with the Office of General Counsel.

The University will use its best efforts to protect whistleblowers against any form of retaliation. It cannot guarantee confidentiality, however, and there is no such thing as "unofficial" or "off the record" reporting.

Individuals bringing forth baseless allegations may be subject to disciplinary action independent of this policy.

Revision History

This policy has not yet been revised.