AACP Policy on Honors, Awards and Leadership Positions

AACP Article

AACP’s Board of Directors has adopted a policy affirming AACP’s right to grant, defer or decline to grant an honor or award, including a leadership position, to any person. The Board was motivated to adopt this policy through recognition that honoring or elevating those known to engage in harassing and discriminatory behavior can contribute to longstanding structural and systemic barriers to equal participation of all people in academic pharmacy. These barriers adversely affect individuals and undermine excellence in the field.

Conferral of honors and awards by AACP are privileges exercised at AACP’s discretion, and AACP expects all recipients of honors and awards to embody the highest standards of professional and personal ethical behavior. AACP will therefore not confer any honor, award or leadership position when, in its discretion, there has been a determination or credible question of unethical behavior. A determination of unethical behavior may also result in suspension or revocation of an existing honor, award or leadership position. 

AACP will be guided in its decision-making in these matters by its judgement of the best interests of academic pharmacy. In applying this policy, AACP is not making judgements or determinations regarding any individual but is rather seeking to serve the best interests of the academy.

Full Policy

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) confers Honors and Awards, including but not limited to elected leadership positions within AACP, its board of directors, councils, sections and special interest groups; selection for service on standing and ad hoc committees and task forces of the association; awards made by AACP and its units in recognition of lifetime or specific research and service contributions and achievements; and the honor of being the name of an award that will be conferred on others. Honors and Awards are determined in AACP’s judgment and discretion. AACP retains the right to grant, defer or decline to grant an Honor or Award to any person. AACP also retains the right to revoke or suspend an Honor or Award already granted if, in its judgment and discretion, AACP 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 AACP that the Honor is reinstated or revoked.

See the glossary at the end of this policy for definitions of key terms.


Underlying Policy Rationale

Interests of Excellence in the Field

While not the only interest that is critical for excellence in the field and is considered by AACP in deciding who should hold an Honor, professional ethics is also an important interest. When AACP awards an Honor, the Honor reflects AACP’s judgment that an individual’s contributions to, and effect on, the field are exemplary. AACP takes into account the effect on the field of the totality of the individual’s work, 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 as well as conduct in their personal affairs that does not cast serious doubt on their core ethics. References to conduct in this policy include professional and personal conduct.

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, or service/practice.

Ethics Considerations in Awarding Honors

AACP finds, in its discretion, that determined unethical conduct of a current or prospective holder of an Honor—as well as credible, but undetermined, questions about the ethical conduct of such an individual—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 balanced, AACP will not confer any honor, award or leadership position on any individual whose conduct has been determined to be unethical, in its discretion. That determination will be based on an outside authority’s (e.g., home institution, court, government agency) review or investigation and determination (with supporting information) made available to AACP, on which it may rely.

AACP also will not confer any honor, award or leadership position on any individual whose ethical conduct is the subject of a credible question known to AACP, so long as the question has not been finally and favorably determined to AACP’s satisfaction, in its discretion. Determined unethical conduct may also justify suspension or revocation of any honor, award or leadership position.

When applying this policy in situations of credible but undetermined questions, AACP is withholding judgment and is not making a statement or determination regarding any individual. Rather, AACP is implementing a prophylactic measure to support the field’s priority efforts to break down longstanding barriers to excellence. Any statement or action to the contrary is prohibited and not authorized by AACP. Credible questions arise when there is some fact or evidence of a conduct issue raised (which may include, e.g., a factual account by a target or bystander) that would justify a formal review or investigation. The question may relate to whether the conduct at issue occurred (including whether the facts raised are truthful, accurate, and complete) and/or whether the conduct is unethical.


Awareness of Conduct Issues

Required Disclosures

AACP is aware of conduct issues about the holder or potential recipient of an Honor, Award or Leadership position if its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or any individual who participates (whether as AACP staff or a member of an Awards or Nominating Committee) in the official Honors nomination or election process is aware. These individuals must notify the AACP CEO, who will make the head of the appropriate Honors or election process aware.

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 AACP CEO as part of the nomination process.

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

Process for Suspension or Revocation of Existing Honors

Upon notice by AACP 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, AACP will give the holder of the Honor a notice of intent to revoke or suspend the Honor. The notice of intent will include a statement of the interests of the field served by the proposed revocation or suspension, in AACP’s judgment. The holder of the Honor will have an opportunity to submit to AACP, within 14 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, AACP will act in its discretion. AACP, at any time, may review and act on pertinent information that was not available or known to it at the time of its decision.

Special Circumstances

Honors Held by Deceased Individuals

Special circumstances arise when unprofessional and unethical conduct of a deceased person who holds an Honor is raised. AACP 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 an informal investigation or process, is unable to defend against allegations, e.g., of sexual harassment, 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. AACP will exercise its judgment on a case-by-case basis. If a statement is made, AACP 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, AACP may include examples of types of unprofessional and unethical conduct faced and consequential actions taken under AACP’s current policy generally, to demonstrate the authenticity of its intolerance for the type of conduct and mitigate impact on the field.
  • AACP 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

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.

Reasonable person standard: 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.

Credible question (of professional and ethical conduct): when there is a question about whether or not a person’s conduct meets the Association’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 Association to make judgments. AACP will consider a credible question to exist when it becomes aware that there has been a formally filed complaint against an individual or that an outside authority, such as a school, federal agency or professional society, has opened a review or an investigation into an allegation of unethical behavior and that review or investigation has not been closed to AACP’s satisfaction.

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 Association’s standards of conduct (or not). This determination may be based on the Association’s own review, an outside authority’s determination made available to the Association and on which the Association relies, or both.

Discretion (AACP’s): means AACP’s decision, determination, judgment or application of criteria, is made in the AACP’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).

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.

Forms and Procedures

To implement this policy, AACP instituted a disclosure process for nominees for certain AACP-wide awards and elected positions in autumn 2021. The disclosure form has been updated to reflect the adoption of the AACP Code of Conduct in 2023. 

Nominee Disclosure Submission and Review Process

Process for Revocation of an Existing Award

Process for Removal of a Member of AACP's Board of Directors

Please contact AACP Senior Director of Science Policy and Chief Science Officer Dorothy Farrell, dfarrell@aacp.org, with any questions.