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900.6 - Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment

University Group Policy #900.6

I.  Policy Statement

Winston-Salem State University is dedicated to the transmission and advancement of knowledge and understanding. Thus, faculty members are encouraged to seek solutions to scientific, social, and artistic problems and to expand knowledge through appropriate forms of scholarly and creative endeavors. Academic freedom is essential to the achievement of these purposes. This institution, therefore, supports and encourages freedom of inquiry for faculty members, to the end that they may responsibly pursue these goals through teaching, research, service, discussion, and publication, free from the internal or external restraints that would unreasonably restrict their academic endeavors.

The responsibilities for faculty include both primary and secondary duties. Primary duties consist of assigned teaching, scholarly research and all other institutional service requirements such as academic advisement, committee assignments, etc. Secondary duties consist of professional activities traditionally undertaken by faculty and other professional staff members outside, of the university employment that redound to the benefit of profession and to higher education in general. Such endeavors which may or may not entail the receipt of honoraria or the reimbursement of expenses include membership in and service to professional associations and learned societies membership on professional review or advisory panels; presentation of lecture papers, concerts or exhibits; presentation in seminars and conferences; involvement in reviewing or editing scholarly publications and books; and service to accreditation bodies. Such integral manifestations of one's membership in a profession are encouraged, as extensions of employment at Winston-Salem State University, so long as they do not conflict or interfere with the timely and effective performance of the individual’s primary duties. Moreover, in carrying out their responsibilities, faculty members are expected to abide by the Code of Ethics established by the institution in regards to professional conduct.

Because of the position of trust they occupy and the academic freedom afforded them, faculty members and EPA non-faculty personnel must be careful to avoid any behavior in their professional activities that could create circumstances that prevent or limit objectivity in the performance of their institutional responsibilities or that may affect adversely any interest of the university. Consequently, the following policies and procedures are developed to ensure that the professional activities and financial and personal interests of faculty and staff are arranged to avoid conflicts of interest and commitment.

II.    Guidelines

Relation to other Policies

In addition to applicable North Carolina laws on conflicts of interest and commitment, this policy supplements other university policies, including but not limited to the Board of Governors' Policy on External Professional Activities for Pay, the Tenure Policies and Regulation of the Institution, and the Personnel Policies for EHRA Non-Faculty Employees that were adopted by the Board of Trustees of Winston-Salem State University, as they may be amended from time to time. Information on these laws and policies is available from the Office of the Legal Affairs.

Conflicts of Commitment

A conflict of commitment relates to the distribution of effort between an employee’s University appointment and his/her outside activities. Outside activities may include one's involvement with professional or learned societies, participation on review panels, and external professional activities for pay. Such activities often promote professional development and enrich one's contributions to the institution, his/her profession or discipline, and to the community, and are generally encouraged.

It is the policy of Winston-Salem State University that faculty and EHRA non faculty employees shall devote their time, energy and professional loyalty to the service of the University in keeping with their primary assignment of responsibility. Therefore, outside activities and financial interests must be arranged so as not to interfere with one's responsibility or commitment to the University.

Conflicts of Interest

For purposes of this policy, a conflict of interest relates to situations in which significant financial interest 1 or other personal considerations may compromise, may involve the potential for compromising or may have the appearance of compromising an employee's objectivity in meeting his/her duties or responsibilities at Winston-Salem State University, including research and public service activities. Significant Financial Interest does not include;

  1. Salary, royalties, or other remuneration from the applicant institution;
  2. Any ownership interests in the institution, if the institution is an applicant under SBIR Program;
  3. Income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by public or nonprofit entities;
  4. Income from service on advisory committees or review panels for public or nonprofit entities;
  5. An equity interest that when aggregated for the Investigator and the Investigator's spouse and dependent children, meets both the following tests: Does not exceed $5,000 in value as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures for fair market value, and does not represent more than a five percent ownership interest in any single entity; or
  6. Salary royalties or other payments that when aggregated for the Investigator and the Investigator’s spouse and dependent children over the next twelve months are not expected to exceed $5,000.

The bias that such conflicts may impart may affect many institutional duties, including decisions about personnel, the purchase of equipment and other supplies, the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, the sharing of research findings, the choice of research protocols, and the use of statistical methods. An employee may have a conflict of interest when he or she, or any member of his/her immediate family, has a personal interest in an activity that may affect decision making with respect to university teaching, research service or administration

Categories or Potential Conflicts

Activities that may involve conflict of interest can be categorized under three general headings: (a) allowable activities; (b) activities requiring disclosure for administrative review; and (c) those that are not allowable.

Allowable Activities with No Reporting Required

These are activities that might appear to involve a conflict of interest but in fact do not. The following such activities do not require disclosure or administrative review:

  1. Faculty or staff receiving royalties from the publication of books or for the licensure of patented inventions subject to the Patent and Copyright Policies of the University.
  2. Faculty or staff having equity interest in a corporation, the exclusive function of which is to accommodate the employee's external consulting activities.
  3. Faculty or staff receiving nominal compensation, in the form of honoraria or expense reimbursement, in connection with service to professional associations, service on review panels, presentation of scholarly works and participation in accreditation reviews.
Activities Requiring Disclosure for Administrative Review

The activities listed under this heading suggest a possibility of conflicting loyalties that can impair objectivity, but disclosure and resulting analysis of relationships may render the activity permissible.

  1. A faculty member requiring students to purchase the textbook or related instructional materials by him/her or members of his/her immediate family, which produced compensation for the faculty member or family member.
  2. A faculty or staff member receiving compensation or gratuities from any individual or entity doing business with the institution.
  3. A faculty or staff member serving on the board of directors or scientific advisory board of an enterprise that provides financial support for university research, and the employee or a member of his/her immediate family may receive such financial support.
  4. A faculty or staff member serving in an executive position in a for-profit or not-for-profit business which conducts research or other activities in an area related to the institutional duties of the faculty or staff member.
  5. A faculty or staff member having significant equity in a for-profit business which conducts research or other activities related to the faculty or staff member duties.
  6. A faculty or staff having a financial interest in a business that competes with services provided by the institution.

All faculty and staff engaged in activities or similar activities as indicated above must report such activities by using the Report of Non-University Activities form. The form may be secured from the Office of Academic Affairs or the head of the appropriate unit. In case of faculty and academics staff, the completed form should be submitted to the department chairperson. Non- academic professional staff should submit the form to their unit head.

Non-allowable Activities

The activities cited below involve situations that are not generally permissible because they involve potential conflicts of interest or they present obvious opportunities or inducements to favor personal interests over institutional interest. Therefore, it shall be the policy of the institution that:

No employee shall engage in university research involving a technology owned by or contractually obligated to (by license or exercise of an option to license or otherwise) a business in which the individual or a member of his/her immediate family has a consulting relationship, has an ownership interest, or holds an executive position.

No faculty member shall assign students to university research projects or other activities sponsored by a business in which the individual or a member of his/her immediate family has an ownership interest.

No employee shall participate in university research or activities which are funded by a grant or contract from a business in which the individual or a member of his/her immediate family has an ownership interest.

No employee shall accept support for university research under conditions that require research results to be held confidential, unpublished or inordinately delayed in publication (other than as allowed by University Patent and Copyright Policies or by Policy of the Board of Governors dated February 12, 1988, Administrative Memorandum #260).

No employee shall make referrals of university business to an external enterprise in which the individual or a member of his or her immediate family has a financial interest.

No employee shall associate his/her own name with Winston-Salem State University in such a way as to profit financially by trading on the reputation or goodwill of the institution, available to the general public and gained by reason of his/her official position for his/her personal gain or benefit of any other person or business entity.

Reporting Requirement and Procedures

All faculty and professional staff are required to report their non-university income producing activities each year. The purpose of this reporting is not to discourage outside activities, but to provide assistance in arranging them to be compatible with university employment. Since outside professional activities of faculty and staff often enhance professional skills and serve the public, such activities are appropriate unless they give rise to a conflict of interest or commitment. Personal activities (those unrelated to professional skills) are generally not the university's concern, unless they infringe upon university service. Non-university income- producing activities are to be reported on the Report of Non-university Activities Form.

This form has three parts as follows: Part I - Conflict-of-Interest Screening Questions, Part II - Listing of Non-university Income-Producing Activities, and Part II-Affirmation.

Conflict-of-Interest Screening Questions

This section of the form is designed to obtain information such as consulting, managerial role or other financial relationships of faculty and their immediate family that might present or appear to present a conflict of interest

  • For question one, indicate as appropriate and attach description, if required.
  • For question two, indicate as appropriate and attach description, if required.

Please note that several of the activities requiring disclosure listed under 2.b cover the financial and business interest of the immediate family.

  • For question three, indicate as appropriate and if answered affirmatively, attach description listing all involved parties.
  • For question four, indicate as appropriate and attach description, if required.
Listing of Non-University Income-Producing Activities

This section is to be completed by full-time faculty and professional staff.

List all non-university income-producing activities during the applicable academic year (August 21-August 20). Include the nature of the activities, the company or organization for which they were performed, the amount of time expected to be spent this year. 

Attach additional sheets if necessary.

The following are examples of non-university income-producing activities that should be reported. Others may need to be reported as well.

  • Relationships with companies that do business with the university;
  • Relationships with sponsored of your research;
  • Service as an officer, director or trustee in businesses related to your professional field;
  • Ownership in, financial interest in, or management of organizations related to your professional field;
  • Activities involving university students or staff
  • Outside research or consulting
  • Artistic performances;
  • Fellowships;
  • Positions held at other institutions
  • Workshops,seminars or training programs;
  • Honoraria (unless exception applies)
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Publishing contracts

As a general rule (with the exceptions listed below), employees should report activities from which they derive income that they are obliged to report to the IRS.

The following types of activity or income, even though some may require reporting to the IRS, do not need to be reported.

  • Preparation of books, articles, lectures, works or art or artistic performances expected of you in the normal course of your university duties;
  • Presentations of scholarly work at other universities or at educational meetings sponsored by non-profit entities, as long as absence from campus does not interfere significantly with your university duties;
  • Service on government committees or review panels for university, government or professional organizations, when service does not interfere significantly with your university duties.
  • Prizes and royalties from past writings.
Affirmation

This section of the form requires all employees to affirm with the signature that their statements are true and that they have read the Policy Statement on Conflicts of Interest.

In the event that such activities are engaged in by a faculty or professional staff after the submission of the report of non-university activities, it is the responsibility of that faculty or staff member to update the form as appropriate.

Administrative Review and Approval

  1. When the report on non-university activities has been completed by a faculty or other professional staff member, it shall be submitted to the chair or head of the department in which the individual is employed for his/her review.
  2. The faculty or other professional staff member shall be notified of determination regarding the review within then (10) working days of the date of the report on the non-university activities.
  3. If no activity is reported to the best of the chair's knowledge, no conflict of interest exists. The form should be signed and retained in the departmental and faculty affairs files.
  4. If, after a review of the activity and information reported, the department chair determines that to the best of his/her knowledge and in his/her judgment, no conflict of interest exists, the form should be approved and retained in the employee's personnel file within the department and the appropriate vice chancellor's office.
  5. If, after a review of the activity and information reported and consultation with the faculty or other professional staff member, the department chair or unit head determines that a conflict of interest may exist, but does not appear to be significant, he/she shall attach an explanation and forward to the division director or the next administrative level.
  6. If, after a review of the activity and information reported, the department chair determines that a conflict of interest may exist that warrants further review, he/she shall attach an explanation to the report and forward to the division director or next level administrator for his/her review.
  7. If, after a review of the activity and information reported, and consultation with the faculty or other professional staff members, and department chair, the division director determines a conflict of interest that may exist, the report is not approved, and the faculty or other professional staff is notified in writing, with a copy of the decision retained in the employee’s personnel file within the department and the appropriate vice chancellor’s office.

Provision for Appeal

In the event that a faculty member is dissatisfied with the decision resulting from an analysis and review of disclosure information, he/she may register his or her disagreement by following the Guidelines and Procedures for the Faculty Grievance Committee at Winston-Salem State University. EHRA Non-Faculty employees may register their concern in writing through EHRA Non-Faculty Grievance Process. A decision on any such appeal shall be given to the faculty or other professional staff member within ten (10) working days of the date on which the appeal is received. The decision of the chancellor shall be final.

III.     Applicability

This policy is applicable to EHRA Faculty and Non-Faculty employees of Winston-Salem State University.

IV.    Compliance

Management of Conflicting Interests

Pursuant to 42 CFR Part 50.605, which requires the management of conflicting interests, Winston-Salem state University has designated officials to review all financial disclosures and determine whether a conflict of interest exists. Whenever a conflict of interest exists, the official shall determine what action should be taken by the institutions to manage, reduce or eliminate such conflict of interests.

Examples of conditions or restrictions that might be imposed include, but are not limited to:

  1. Public disclosure of significant financial interests;
  2. Monitoring of research by independent reviewers;
  3. Modification of the research plan;
  4. Qualification from participation in all or a portion of the research funded by PHS;
  5. Divestiture of significant financial interests; or
  6. Severance of relationship's that create actual or potential conflicts

Should a violation on the part of a faculty or professional staff member of the conflict of interest policy bias the design, conduct, or reporting of Public Health Service (“PHS”) funded research, the institution, through the chancellor, will promptly notify the PHS awarding component of the corrective action taken or to be taken.

Violations of the policy will be addressed under the appropriate university policies for EPA employees. Disciplinary action for violating this policy will be up to and including dismissal.


Responsible Division: Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Authority: Board of Trustees

History:

  • Amended December 13, 2012

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