Conflict of Interest Policy Pertaining to Sponsered Projects

  1. POLICY SUMMARY
  2. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND COMMITMENT
  3. REVIEW OF POSITIVE DISCLOSURES
  4. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
  5. IDENTIFYING POTENTIAL SITUATIONS

1. POLICY SUMMARY

This policy sets forth procedures and guidelines that are to be followed in resolving actual and potential faculty conflicts of interest and commitment pertaining to sponsored projects. This policy applies to all sponsored projects funded by (a) commercial sponsors, (b) those federal agencies having specific conflict of interest requirements, and (c) purchase orders and subcontracts issued by Roanoke College under its sponsored projects irrespective of the source of funds.


2. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND COMMITMENT

a. The college and its faculty often benefit from the faculty's participation in both public and private outside activities. The college does not wish to set forth detailed rules that may interfere with faculty members' legitimate outside interests. The policy which follows applies only to sponsored projects.

b. Faculty members, in turn, must also ensure that their outside obligations, financial interests, and activities do not conflict or interfere with their commitment to the college.

c. The areas of potential conflict may be divided into two categories.

Conflicts of Interest are defined as situations in which faculty members may have the opportunity to influence the college business decisions in ways that could lead to personal gain or give improper advantage to members of their families or to associates. Conflicts of Commitment are defined as situations in which faculty members' external activities interfere or appear to interfere with their paramount obligations to their students, colleagues, and the college.

d. In those circumstances in which the college is engaged in or intends to engage in a sponsored project with a commercial organization, or has subcontracted or intends to subcontract to an external organization under one of the college's sponsored projects, a conflict of interest may occur when a faculty member's affiliation with the external organization meets any one of the following criteria:

  1. The faculty member is an officer, director, partner, trustee, employee, advisory board member, or agent of an external organization or corporation either funding a sponsored project or providing goods and services under a sponsored project on which the faculty member is participating in any capacity.
  2. The faculty member is the actual or beneficial owner of more than five percent (5%) of the voting stock or controlling interest of such organization or corporation.
  3. The faculty member has dealings with such organization or corporation from which he or she derives income of more than $5,000 per year, exclusive of dividends and interest.
  4. The faculty member's immediate family (spouse, parents, parents-in-law, siblings, children, or other relatives living at the same address as the faculty member) meet any of the criteria stated in a-c above.

e. Each faculty member participating in a sponsored project covered by this policy must disclose whether or not he or she has external affiliations that may constitute a conflict by falling within the criteria stated in paragraphs a-d above. A disclosure must be completed prior to the college's acceptance of the sponsored project or issuance of a purchase order or subcontract for the acquisition of goods and services. When applicable, the disclosure form is to be sent to the Office of Academic Grants and Foundation Relations via the faculty member's department chair or dean. Positive disclosures will be reviewed by the Vice President and Dean of the College.

3. REVIEW OF POSITIVE DISCLOSURES

In reviewing the positive disclosures, the Vice President and Dean of the College will be guided by the following practices:

a. Assure adherence to relevant college policies found in The Faculty Grant Book and other college documents the Committee may deem appropriate.

b. Consider the nature and extent of the financial interest in the relationship of the faculty member and the external organization.

c. Give special consideration to the terms and conditions of sponsored project agreements that may mitigate or complicate the given situation.

d. Consult with and obtain additional information from the faculty member may be helpful in resolving actual or potential conflicts.

e. Act in a timely manner so as not to delay unduly the conduct of the sponsored project.

f. Conclude that the college may take one of the following actions:

  1. Accept the sponsored project award.
  2. Do not accept the sponsored project award.
  3. Accept the sponsored project subject to suitable modifications in either the sponsored project award document or the external organizational affiliation(s) of the faculty member or faculty member's family.

4. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

a. All decisions made are grievable.

b. The Office of Academic Grants and Foundation Relations shall maintain the records pertaining to each disclosure in strict confidence. Access to such records will be limited to the faculty member, the Academic Vice President, the Vice President of Business Affairs, and others who have a legal right to review the records.

5. IDENTIFYING POTENTIAL SITUATIONS

a. Activities that are clearly permissible.

  1. Acceptance of royalties for published works and patents, or of honoraria for commissioned papers and lectures.
  2. Service as a consultant to outside organizations, provided that the time commitment does not exceed the then existing college policy, and that the arrangement in no way alters the faculty members' commitments incurred in the college's execution of a sponsored agreement on the faculty member's behalf.
  3. Service on boards and committees of organizations, public or private, that does not distract unduly from the faculty member's obligations to the college or that does not interfere or appear to interfere with a faculty member's ability to conduct work under sponsored agreements objectively.

b. Activities that present the potential for conflict.

  1. Relationships that might enable a faculty member to influence the college's dealings with an outside organization in ways leading to personal gain or improper advantage for the faculty member, or his or her associates or family members. For example, a faculty member or family member could have a financial interest in an organization with which the college does business and could be in a position to influence relevant business decisions. Ordinarily, making full disclosure of such relationships and making appropriate arrangements to mitigate potential conflicts would resolve such problems.
  2. Situations in which the time or creative energy a faculty member may devote to external activities appear substantial enough so as to compromise the amount or quality of his or her participation in the instructional, scholarly, or administrative work of the college.
  3. Situations in which a faculty member directs students into a research area from which the faculty member may realize a financial gain. In such situations, the ability of a faculty member to render objective, independent judgment about the students' scholarly best interests may be diminished.

c. Activities that are very likely to present unacceptable conflicts.

  1. Situations in which a faculty member assumes executive responsibilities for an outside organization that might seriously divert his or her attention from college duties. Faculty members should consult with the appropriate dean before accepting any outside management position as stated in Sections 2.11.4.2 and 2.11.4.3.
  2. Use for personal profit of unpublished information emanating from sponsored agreements or confidential college sources, or assisting an outside organization by giving it exclusive access to such information; or consulting with outside organizations that impose obligations upon the faculty member or the college that conflict with the faculty member's or with the college's obligations under sponsored projects.