Definitions

  • A "conflict of commitment" exists when the external activities of an academic staff member are so substantial or demanding of the staff member's time and attention that they interfere with the individual's responsibilities to the unit to which the individual is assigned, to students, or to the University. This includes teaching at other institutions.

 

  • A "conflict of interest" arises when an academic staff member is in a position to influence either directly or indirectly University business, research, or other decisions in ways that could lead to gain for the academic staff member, the staff member's family, or others, to the detriment of the University's integrity and its missions of teaching, research, and public service.

 

  • "Family," for the purposes of this Policy, includes one's spouse and children.

 

  • The "unit executive officer" means the department head/chair, or equivalent officer of other units, in whom primary authority resides. For conflicts involving a unit executive officer, the term refers to the administrator at the next higher level in the normal reporting lines.

 

For reporting and review purposes, conflicts of commitment only occur during the contract period; conflicts of interest can occur beyond the contract period.


  1. Conflict of Commitment Principles

    Interaction between academic staff members and external entities for reasonable periods of time and for personal remuneration is desirable and encouraged when the relationship enhances the professional skills of staff members, or constitutes a public service activity and is a benefit to the University. The time allowable will vary among individuals, from discipline to discipline, from one type of proposed activity to another, and will be affected by specific departmental needs to meet teaching, research, service, and governance functions. As a practical guide and subject to prior approval, the University may approve the equivalent of up to one day per week for full-time faculty (40 days per academic year (9-month appointment) and 52 days per calendar year appointment (12-month appointment)). Such released time is not an automatic entitlement and requires prior written approval by the unit executive officer. 

    Assuming prior approval has been given for an external activity, academic staff members are expected to arrange the outside obligations, financial interests, and activities so they do not impede or conflict with their University duties and responsibilities. Released time is not normally available for activities that are primarily personal in nature, that do not enhance the academic staff member's professional skills, or that are not a potential benefit to the University. With the exception of the types of activities indicated in Section III. E below, remunerated activities must be reported whether related to one's professional duties or not. Approval will be denied only if a conflict of commitment or interest is present, as elaborated in this Policy.

  2. Conflict of Interest Principles

    Because a role of the University is to create and disseminate knowledge, an academic staff member must avoid external commitments which would encumber one's choice of subject matter and/or research strategies. In addition, a delay in disseminating information (i.e., publication of research results, seminars, etc.) for inappropriate periods of time must be avoided.

 

When consulting privately with external entities, academic staff members are acting in their individual capacities and must make it understood that they are not acting on behalf of the University. To this end, academic staff members may wish to include in private consulting arrangements reference to this Policy and to refer questions to the Vice Chancellor for Research. An academic staff member may use his/her University title when signing reports and letters pertaining to outside work so long as it is clear to the recipient that the University title is used for identification only. Official University stationery shall not be used in private outside work.

 

The RNUA report goes initially to the unit executive officer, who decides whether the proposed activity constitutes a conflict. If, in the judgment of the executive officer, a conflict exists, the signed report is sent to the Dean’s Office for review and signature. 

The university Policy on Conflict of Commitment and Interest, is available at http://www.vpaa.uillinois.edu/policies/COCI_II.cfm 

Conflicts and potential conflicts must be considered by the Conflict Review Committee. Questions about the CRC should be addressed to Dibyen Majumdar, LAS Senior Associate Dean, 3-2510.

The following are offered as examples of external, income-generating activities that are not considered conflicts of interest. They are exempt from reporting requirements, unless they are so extensive in time and effort that they constitute a potential conflict of commitment:

 

    1. Receiving honoraria, stipends, and/or royalties for published scholarly works and other writing, creative works, lectures, and/or presentations.
    2. Participating at professional conferences for the purpose of making scholarly presentations, or conducting seminars or workshops.
    3. Receiving honoraria for serving as a special reviewer or on a review panel for academic, governmental, or not-for-profit organizations.
    4. Participating in a clinical practice plan approved by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.
    5. Receiving royalties under the University's or another academic institution's royalty distribution policies.
    6. Preparing books, articles, software and other creative works relevant to University duties.
    7. Earning income from passive investments such as interest or dividends from banks, mutual funds, or stocks and bonds.