Adopted by the ASABE Board of Trustees July 2020

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (Society) confers honors and awards (Honors) on individuals for significant contributions to the field or interests of the field. Honors are determined in the Society’s judgment and discretion. The Society retains the right to grant, defer or decline to grant an Honor to any person. The Society also retains the right to revoke or suspend an Honor already granted if, in its judgment and discretion, the Society determines that it is in the best interests of the field to do so. Suspension means the Honor (and the ability of the recipient to exercise any associated privileges and rights) are held in abeyance until notice by the Society that the Honor is reinstated or revoked.  

Underlying Policy Rationale
Ethics Considerations in Awarding Honors
Process for Suspension or Revocation of Existing Honors
Honors Held by Deceased Individuals

Underlying Policy Rationale — Interests of Excellence in the Field

Ethical conduct is an important interest considered by the Society in deciding who should hold an Honor. When the Society awards an Honor, the Honor reflects the Society’s judgment that an individual’s contributions to, and effect on, the field are exemplary. The Society takes into account the effect on the field of the totality of the individual’s work and professional and ethical conduct and reputation. It expects those who hold Honors to demonstrate that participation in and recognition by the field are privileges; and that the field’s leaders, and others it celebrates, embody highly professional and ethical conduct in their work. 

Unethical conduct includes, among other acts, sexual harassment and discrimination based on other factors unrelated to ability and promise (e.g., race and ethnicity), whether alone or intersecting with sexual harassment. These acts perpetuate longstanding structural and systemic barriers to full participation of all talent in the field, which have immediate adverse impact on individuals and undermine excellence in the field. Such unprofessional and unethical conduct may occur in research, learning/teaching, practice, or social settings. 

The expectation that Society members receiving Honors conduct themselves in an ethical manner is supported by Article C15 Professional Practice of the ASABE Constitution, Bylaws and Rules. The ASABE Constitution indicates that all members are to follow the Canons of Ethics for Engineers (see Article B15) and exhibit conduct becoming an engineer.

Ethics Considerations in Awarding Honors

The Society finds, in its discretion, that determined unethical professional conduct by a current or prospective holder of an Honor can contribute to longstanding structural and systemic barriers in the field. Consequently, for the purpose of placing heavier weight on what is best for excellence in the field than what is best for any individual, when the two must be balancedthe Society will not confer any Honor on any individual whose professional conduct has been determined to be unethical. That determination will be based on the Society’s own review or investigation and, if useful in the Society’s discretion, the Society’s consideration of any others’ determinations (with supporting information) made available to the Society. Determined unethical professional conduct may justify suspension or revocation of Honor.

A review or an investigation conducted by the Society will occur based on conduct issues reported to the Society. The review or investigation will be initiated by the BOT. The BOT will inform the Executive Committee on Inclusiveness, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) of the need for such action and the action will include collecting information and preparing a summary report. The BOT reserves the right to self-investigate or to hire an external professional to conduct an investigation. However, the IDEA committee will be informed of this action. The IDEA committee will request input from the individual whose ethical conduct is being questioned, the person(s) reporting the concern, and any other individuals directly part of the ethical concern. The IDEA committee will report findings to the BOT. The BOT will be the entity that communicates information to the individual reporting unethical conduct and to the individual accused of unethical conduct. 

The Society also will not confer any Honor on any individual whose ethical professional conduct is the subject of a credible question known to the Society, so long as the question has not been finally and favorably determined to the Society’s satisfaction, in its discretion. A credible but undetermined question of ethical professional conduct may justify suspension. When applying this policy in situations of credible but undetermined questions, the Society is withholding judgment and is not making a statement or determination regarding any individual. Rather, the Society is implementing a prophylactic measure to support the field’s priority efforts to break down longstanding barriers to excellence


Awareness of Conduct Issues—Required Disclosures: The Society is aware of conduct issues about the holder or potential recipient of an Honor if its Society Executive Director or any individual who participates in the official Honors process is aware. These individuals must notify the Society Executive Director, the Society Executive Director’s Designee, and/or a member of the IDEA committee who will make the Society Awards’ Administrator and IDEA committee (not previously notified) aware. The IDEA committee chair will notify the ASABE president and/or Executive Director as representatives of the BOT of the reported unethical conduct.

Anyone who makes a nomination or recommendation and knows that the nominee has been determined to have engaged in unprofessional or unethical conduct, or that a credible but undetermined question exists about the nominee’s conduct, is required to make a disclosure to the Society Official as part of the nomination process.

A person who is being considered for an Honor (upon becoming aware of being considered), or who holds an Honor, has a continuing duty to disclose to the Society Official the existence of any fact, situation, or circumstance that could be considered unethical to the Society’s decision whether to award the Honor under provisions of this Honors Policy. Failure to make a disclosure may result in the Society withholding, suspending or revoking an Honor, in the Society’s discretion.

Restorative Remedies: In the event of determined conduct inconsistent with an Honor — or in the event of a credible but undetermined question about such conduct —the Society may provide opportunities for restorative remedies (that diminish the effect of such conduct or credibly questioned conduct, elevate understanding of harm caused by such conduct, enhance relationships, improve conduct, advance safety for those affected, and prevent recurrence of any undesirable conduct, eventually enabling positive participation in the field and possibly Honors). The Society may pursue or encourage other institutions to pursue such remedies where, in the Society’s judgment and discretion, the Society determines restorative remedies are possible with authentic consent by the accused and the target and without perpetuating barriers to participation of all talent in the field or otherwise undermining excellence in the field. The Society would generally endeavor to consult the accused and the target and consider, among other factors:

  1. the egregiousness, prevalence, effect, and age of such conduct, the stage of career when it occurred;
  2. whether an individual with determined unprofessional and unethical conduct takes responsibility for the conduct and demonstrates through action (non-repetition) that s/he learned the necessary lesson and is unlikely to repeat similar conduct;
  3. whether an individual appears to be sincerely committed to demonstrating professional and ethical conduct, understanding how the determined conduct or questions of conduct occurred, avoiding a repetition, and restoring relationships—not just to qualify for receipt of an Honor, but recognizing the importance of professional and ethical conduct to excellence in the field.

Restorative remedies will be led by the Chair of the IDEA committee with assistance from committee members. Recommendations for each case will be presented to the Society BOT for approval.

Process for Suspension or Revocation of Existing Honors

Upon notice by the Society to a person already holding an Honor, a suspension or revocation shall take effect. At least 30 days before a notice of revocation or suspension, the Society will give the holder of the Honor a notice of intent to revoke or suspend the Honor. The notice will be sent from the Society BOT. The notice of intent will include a statement of the interests of the field served by the proposed revocation or suspension, in the Society’s judgment. The holder of the Honor will have an opportunity to submit to the Society BOT, within 14 business days of receiving a notice of intent, a written statement of any reasons why s/he believes it would not be in the best interests of the field for the revocation or suspension to be affected. After that 14-day period, whether or not a statement has been submitted, the Society BOT will act in its discretion with input from the IDEA committee. The Society BOT, at any time, may review and act on pertinent information that was not available or known to it at the time of its decision. Decisions made by the BOT regarding suspension or revocation of an Honor will require a two-thirds vote of the BOT supporting the action.

Honors Held by Deceased Individuals

Special circumstances arise when unprofessional and unethical conduct of a deceased person who holds an Honor is raised. The Society will exercise its discretion to address such situations on a case-by-case basis and may determine that no action is needed without heightened concerns. It will consider the following:

  • A deceased person is unable to participate in even an informal investigation or process, is unable to defend against allegations or to participate in restorative remedies.
  • A deceased person cannot continue unprofessional and unethical conduct, eliminating threats that the conduct will be ongoing.
  • Unless heightened concerns for continuing impact on the field exist, the need to protect the interests of the field in eliminating barriers to inclusion may be limited, and the interest of fairness to the accused may be greater.
  • Heightened concerns for impact on the field, even after death, may exist when the act of unprofessional and unethical conduct has been determined during a person’s lifetime (or is established by unequivocal facts) and is highly egregious (respecting a single event or frequency). This is particularly so when the deceased holder of the Honor is very prominent in the field, or the Honor is exceptional, or there is a named Honor continuing to be conferred on others.
  • When action is warranted, it may range from revocation of the Honor to a statement about intolerance of the type of conduct raised. Revocation is an extraordinary remedy. The Society will exercise its judgment on a case-by-case basis. If a statement is made, the Society would speak to intolerance of the type of conduct raised, without judging or stating whether the conduct occurred, and without adding commentary to any existing determination made on the subject. When a statement is made, the Society may include examples of types of unprofessional and unethical conduct faced and consequential actions taken under the Society’s current policy generally, to demonstrate the authenticity of its intolerance for the type of conduct and mitigate impact on the field.
  • The Society is not expected to newly investigate a question of professional and ethical conduct related to a deceased holder of an Honor.


Glossary of Key Terms

Credible question (of professional and ethical conduct): Credible question is when there is a question about whether or not a person’s conduct meets the Society’s high standards of professional and ethical conduct (e.g., whether the person sexually harassed others). The question may concern whether a person engaged in particular conduct—or whether particular conduct is unprofessional and unethical—or both. References to: questioned conduct; undetermined question; credible but undetermined question; determination of a question not yet made; and like phrases in the policy mean there is a credible question about any one or more of these concerns. A credible question is just that—it does not represent a judgment or conclusion about any person. Whether a credible question exists, and whether standards of conduct are met, require the Society to make judgments.

Some considerations are addressed below, but these judgments must be guided by the Society’s mission, standards and the specific factual situation:

  • Typically, for a credible question to exist, there would be enough facts known to the Society, the accused’s home institution, or a government agency or other involved entity to warrant at least one of them conducting an informal or formal review of the questioned conduct and whether the facts are true, accurate and complete. However, a determination of the facts and question, one way or the other, has not yet been made—at all or to the Society’s satisfaction in its discretion.
  • A credible question may arise from information provided by someone who is directly targeted or who is indirectly affected by the conduct at issue (e.g., a bystander, witness, or someone else who knows of the conduct). It may exist if the conduct at issue is sexual harassment, whether or not that label is used, or a formal complaint is filed. It may arise in a news report (followed by verifying key points for accuracy).
  • If truth of an allegation is impossible—e.g., the accused was elsewhere and could not have been present—there is no credible question.
  • Not all rumors raise credible questions. Conclusory, isolated rumors may not, if no salient facts are (even anonymously) provided and no affected people or witnesses come forward. Pervasive (even conclusory) rumors may create a credible question, though, particularly if persistent or if the subject of such rumors is prominent, and in a position of power, and there are reasons to believe those who may have the facts are fearful.

A credible question may be resolved/determined by the Society’s own review, an outside authority’s determination (e.g., home institution, court, government agency) made available to the Society on which the Society relies, or both. The Society must be satisfied, in its discretion, that the question has been answered well enough to decide whether or not the person should hold the relevant Honor.

Determined conduct or determined question of conduct: After a credible question has been raised, there is a determination that a person’s conduct is or is not professional and ethical, meeting the Society’s standards of conduct (or not). This determination may be based on the Society’s own review, an outside authority’s determination made available to the Society and on which the Society relies, or both.

Discretion (the Society’s): Discretion means the Society’s decision, determination, judgment or application of criteria, is made in the Society’s sole and absolute discretion in pursuit of its mission. Such discretion is still not arbitrary or exercised for an illegal purpose (e.g. to discriminate on the basis of sex or race).

Discrimination: Discrimination consists of any practice or behavior that has a negative effect on an individual or group, resulting from unequal or unfair treatment based on an individual or groups’ race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, national origin, geographic background, disability, or any other classification.

Diversity: Diversity is the full spectrum of human uniqueness that shapes our society, which includes, but is not limited to, characteristics such as national origin, language, race, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, veteran status, and family structures.

Harassment: Harassment is any unwelcome verbal or physical conduct which has the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

Harassment includes slurs, jokes, negative stereotyping, or threatening, intimidating or hostile acts, as well as written, electronic or graphic material that denigrates or reflects on an individual or group because of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, marital status, family status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs or socioeconomic status.

Inclusion: Inclusion is cultivating an environment that connects each member to our society; encourages collaboration, flexibility, and fairness; and leverages diversity throughout the society to empower individuals to contribute to their optimum potential toward innovative outcomes.

Reasonable person standard: A reasonable person standard is a threshold used in law to determine whether hostile environment sexual harassment has occurred. The facts are viewed through the eyes of a generic “reasonable person” in a similar circumstance, position, and relationship. Behavior (including comments, images, gestures, etc.) is evaluated to determine if it is gratuitous (i.e., not necessary for the work) and of such pervasiveness (frequency) or severity (even once) that it would interfere with a reasonable person’s ability to work or learn. What a reasonable person in similar circumstances would find harmful may change with societal norms and power/knowledge/positional differences among individuals involved.

Restorative remedy: Restorative remedy is a remedy for gender harassment and some other forms of unprofessional and unethical conduct, where the individuals involved authentically consent to participate in a non-legal, informal process with aims of (a) elevating understanding of specific conduct-related harm (whether recognized by the “reasonable person standard” or particular to the individuals involved), (b) achieving confidence that the harmful conduct will not be repeated and the target will be safe; (c) restoring relationships and affirming a community that is inclusive and actively intolerant of harassment, and (d) potentially also offering the accused the opportunity to be a community member in good standing going forward. (The remedy may engage two people, together or separately, or a larger community, depending on the scope of those impacted and the circumstances.)

  • It is not necessary for gender harassment or other misconduct to be proven to engage in a restorative remedy.
  • At a high level, the accused must be willing to acknowledge that the target experienced harm from the accused’s conduct, but does not have to acknowledge all allegations (or, depending on the situation, legal culpability), as long as the accused is committed to understanding what conduct caused the harm and how to avoid repetition—and the target’s objective is to be safe from future harm, rather than to punish the accused.
  • Restorative remedies are not adequate when regulations require other action (e.g., Title IX regulations require formal process when desired by a target, and proposed changes may require formal process when a formal complaint is filed unless both parties agree otherwise; and research fabrication, falsification or plagiarism and violation of human subjects research regulations trigger regulatory requirements for formal processes).

Retaliation: Retaliation means punishing or otherwise engaging in differential adverse treatment of someone in response to that person raising a concern about, or otherwise asserting the right to be free from, discrimination including harassment. Prohibited conduct includes activity that would discourage someone from resisting or complaining about future discrimination/harassment. Retaliation can include actions such as transfer to a less desirable position or assignment; verbal or physical abuse; increased scrutiny; spreading false rumors; or making the person's work more difficult.

Sexual harassment is a type of discrimination on the basis of sex, and includes one or more of the following:

  • Sexual coercion or quid pro quo sexual harassment: when threats or rewards respecting educational or employment benefits, support, or status are conditioned on sexual favors.
  • Hostile environment sexual harassment: exposure in work- or education- related settings or activities to gratuitous (i.e., non-work related/unnecessary for the work) (a) sexual images, gestures, or remarks, (b) sexual insults, (c) non-sexual gender harassment (see below), or (d) unwelcome sexual attention—of such pervasiveness or severity as to interfere with a “reasonable person’s” ability to learn or work. (See reasonable person standard.)
  • Gender harassment: is a form of sexual harassment that includes sexism, or other non-sexual behaviors (including remarks and conduct) that demean, denigrate, devalue, and disrespect individuals on the basis of sex.

Sexual assault and battery, including but not limited to rape (which are crimes).

On the basis of sex: means on the basis of sex, gender identity, gender expression, failure to act according to gender stereotypes, and sexual orientation.