Reminder Regarding Holiday Gifts

Contributed by Mark Cartwright

As we approach the festive season in many parts of the world, it is natural for gifts and other business courtesies to be offered by our vendors. While we are grateful for these business partnerships and appreciate the opportunity to celebrate this season by showing our mutual respect and esteem, it is important that we avoid situations where it could even appear that we are showing favoritism, requesting or accepting any kind of improper advantage, or otherwise engaging in conduct that is inconsistent with our values. 

To that end, we want to take this opportunity to remind you of the guidelines set out in UVA’s policy addressing the acceptance of gifts and special benefits from vendors. 

Here are a few key principles: 
  • University employees can only accept gifts or benefits on behalf of the University, not personally.
  • Acceptable gifts, or benefits, should be of nominal value. Examples include perishable or consumable gifts (think flowers, Christmas cookies, baked goods, and so on!) that can be shared within a department or group. 
  • Other examples include items of acceptable, nominal value gifts include those bearing advertising, such as magnets, calendars, or note pads. 
  • Meals or beverages from vendors when offered to a large group of people at a trade show, exhibit or other professional meeting are also acceptable. 
  • Employees should not accept cash or cash equivalents such as gift cards. 
  • Trips and travel expenses, whether offered as reimbursement or as gifts, should not be accepted. 
Of course, we cannot cover every situation in an email, so we encourage you to read our gift policy, available at, for more guidance. Please keep in mind that the University’s policy is intended only to protect you and UVA.

Acceptance of gifts or other special benefits from vendors can give the appearance of impropriety and compromise the University’s integrity and image. In certain circumstances, individual employees could even be held personally liable, all of which we want to avoid. 

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me. Thank you again for your continued partnership and enjoy the season!