Physics Department Conduct Accountability Committee

The Physics Department seeks to maintain a working and learning environment that allows all community members to be productive. Toward that end, the department abides by all university policies and, in addition, has adopted a Statement on Conduct that encourages respectful interactions and prohibits rude or damaging behavior. Some behaviors that are considered violations of the Statement on Conduct do not rise to a level that would demand the engagement of Duke University channels or legal action. The Conduct Accountability Committee (CAC) provides one mechanism for accountability by recognizing, documenting, and reporting such violations.

The role of the CAC is to ensure that the information it receives is directed to appropriate channels for any further action and to curate information relevant for assessing the impact and extent of any damaging behaviors occurring within the Physics Department. The responsibilities of the CAC do not include adjudication of cases, mediation, or conflict resolution, or investigation of claims of violations of the Statement on Conduct.

 The CAC will consider cases of inappropriate conduct, as defined by the Physics Department Statement on Conduct. This is distinct from grievances based on assessments of job performance or disagreements about the definition of job responsibilities, which should be handled by the supervisor of the most senior participant in the disagreement.

The CAC is expected to handle cases of disrespectful, dismissive, or discriminatory behavior that fall short of harassment or abuse that violate laws or regulations. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Insulting or belittling remarks;
  • Intimidation;
  • Displays of implicit or explicit bias against a group or individual;
  • Overly rude or disruptive behavior;
  • Displays of offensive images;
  • Use of unprofessional language in professional or educational interactions;
  • Demands by authority figures that require actions outside the scope of the professional relationship;
  • Violation of an individual’s personal space;
  • Unwanted physical contact.


Anyone who has witnessed behavior they consider to be in violation of the Statement on Conduct may bring the incident to the attention of any CAC member and submit a conduct report form detailing the nature of the behavior or incident. The CAC will treat information as confidential unless the reporter explicitly grants permission for it to be transmitted to the relevant administrator(s). If required by law to inform University officials, the CAC will do so.

Except for cases that involve the Department Chair, all cases will be reported to the Department Chair along with the CAC’s assessment of the case. If a member of the CAC is the subject of a report or submits a report, that member will be recused from discussing the case. If the chair of the CAC is the subject of a report or submitted the report, the CAC chair will be recused from processing the report. In this case, the other faculty representative on the CAC will moderate the discussion. If the department chair is the subject of a report, the CAC may report the case to the Divisional Dean.

The CAC will assess the severity of the allegation based on the reported information. However, the CAC will not perform an investigation to determine the facts of a case, nor will it attempt to determine the intents of the persons involved.

Reporting Violations of the Department’s Statement on Conduct

There are several mechanisms for submitting a report on behavior that violates the department’s Statement on Conduct, harassment, or any behavior that is inconsistent with the spirit of the University’s policies on respectful behavior in the workplace. All mechanisms involve completing a Conduct Reporting Form. The form allows the attachment of a free-format description of aspects of the incident/behavior that don’t optimally fit the form template.

A Reporting Form may be submitted by:

  • completing the Reporting Form online at this website: Conduct Committee Report Form.
  • making an appointment with a member of the CAC to submit the completed Conduct Reporting Form in person. The email addresses of the CAC members are posted on this site.  You may also meet with a CAC member to discuss the case prior to completing the form.
  • putting the completed Reporting Form in the drop box in the room 139A of the Physics Building. The box is mounted on the wall behind the copier. The drop box is checked every Friday.

Duke University Policies on Harassment

Information on Duke’s policies and procedures on harassment can be found at:

Membership Composition of the CAC

The committee consists of:

  • 2 members of the regular rank Physics faculty, one of whom shall chair the committee;
  • 2 members of the Physics Department staff, including administrative and research staff,
  • 2 graduate students,
  • 1 undergraduate physics major,
  • The Physics Department’s official Human Resources representative (ex officio).
Current Conduct Committee Members
  • Calvin R. Howell (Committee Chair), Professor of Physics
  • Roxanne P. Springer, Professor of Physics
  • Bruno Sanchez, Postdoctoral Associate
  • Timothy Fields, Staff Assistant
  • Katherine Parham, Graduate Student
  • Alan Zhou, Undergraduate Student

You may send a message to the full Committee at