Professional Policies & Faculty Responsibilities — Conflict of Commitment

The Principle of Conflict of Commitment

Under the University's Conflict of Interest Policy, faculty and staff members must disclose to their DEOs outside activities that may unduly interfere with the time necessary to fulfill their obligations to the University (see the Policy Manual, II-18). Records of these disclosures are treated confidentially as part of the employee's personnel file.

The policy prohibits very few professional activities. It does require that, when an activity is disclosed and is found to present a potential conflict of commitment, the DEO devise a management strategy to ensure that University obligations are not adversely affected. It also requires that faculty examine the total amount of time they spend in outside activities, whether professional or non-professional, and determine whether the time devoted to these activities unduly interferes with their obligations to the University. DEOs consult the Executive Associate Dean for advice on situations that may represent conflicts of commitment and on devising management strategies.

Professional Activities That Must Be Disclosed

Faculty with full-time academic-year appointments must disclose any activities they undertake for extra compensation if they devote more than three teaching days per semester (or more than two consecutive teaching days per semester) to such activities. Activities undertaken during spring break, between sessions, or on weekends need not be disclosed or included. Faculty with full-time, twelve-month appointments must disclose activities undertaken for extra compensation if they devote more than nine teaching days (or more than two consecutive teaching days) to such activities over the twelve-month period.

The Operations Manual outlines other activities that must be disclosed because they represent a potential conflict of interest for the faculty member (see II-18.4(c)). These include having a financial interest or an employment or consulting relationship in certain types of firms or agencies and using for any outside activities a staff member or student whose work the individual supervises or who is enrolled in a course the individual teaches.

See Conflicts of Commitment and Interest for more information.

Activities Not Ordinarily Requiring Disclosure

Outside professional activities that are normally expected of faculty at a research university do not usually present a conflict of commitment-for example, attending professional meetings; writing scholarly books, research articles, or textbooks; delivering public lectures or readings; editing a scholarly or learned journal; or holding office in a professional organization (see the Policy Manual, II-18.4(b)).

However, if these activities are so extensive that the faculty member should reasonably believe the commitment of time unduly interferes with his or her obligations to the University, the activities must be disclosed to the DEO. The DEO will devise a plan for managing the commitments, perhaps including limiting the activities.

Monitoring Objectivity in Sponsored Research

Faculty members engaged in externally sponsored research or educational programs must report to the Division of Sponsored Programs (100 Gilmore Hall, 335-2123) any significant financial interest they or their family members may have in an external sponsor or a sponsor's competitor or any financial interest they have that may be affected by the sponsored program. For a complete discussion, the faculty member should consult the University's Conflict of Interest Policy (Policy Manual, II-18.6) and the University's Policy on Ethics in Research (Policy Manual, II-27.6).