4.4 Conflict of Commitment and Interest for Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff

Applies principles of the Faculty Policy on Conflict of Commitment and Interest to members of the Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff, while recognizing that consulting privileges are not normally extended to members of the Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff, and that they are not expected to complete the annual Outside Professional Activities Certification (OPACS).

Contact

Questions about this policy can be answered by:

Ann M. Arvin

Vice Provost and Dean of Research

1. Introduction

The general concepts of conflict of commitment and interest, as set forth in the Faculty Policy on Conflict of Commitment and Interest in RPH, and PHS and NSF Requirements Regarding Financial Disclosures and Agency Notifications in RPH. are applicable with certain modifications to the Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff. Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff members are referred to the full text of the Faculty Policy on Conflict of Commitment and Interest in RPH for further discussion of the points presented here.

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2. Conflict of Commitment

Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff, employed on a full-time basis at Stanford, owe their primary professional allegiance to the University, and their primary commitment of time and intellectual energies should be to the programs on which they are working. Whenever an individual's outside activities interfere with professional obligations to Stanford, a conflict of commitment exists. In the case of Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff working at Stanford on a part-time basis, this general principle applies to the extent of the Stanford appointment. Individuals on less than full-time appointments may engage in consulting relationships and other employment, to the degree that those activities do not interfere with their obligations to Stanford.

The following points of policy relate to conflicts of commitment:

  1. Outside consulting privileges are not normally available to full time Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff. They may consult only with permission, as noted below. Under no circumstances may any Academic Staff or Other Teaching Staff member's outside consulting work exceed the limits imposed by the faculty consulting policy, i.e., 13 days per calendar quarter (that is, one day in seven) on a full-time equivalent basis. (See further discussion in Section IV, below.) Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff may not use University resources or personnel, including facilities, staff, students or other trainees, equipment, or confidential information, except in a purely incidental way, as part of any outside consulting or business activities or for any other purposes that are unrelated to the education, research, scholarship or public service missions of the University. 


NOTE: Permission for full-time members of the Academic Staff or Other Teaching Staff to consult, including the reasons for such permission, must be in writing, normally on a prospective basis, by the department/program chairman (for members of the Academic Staff-Teaching or Other Teaching Staff), or by the principal investigator (for members of the Academic Staff-Research), or by the director of the appropriate library (for members of the Academic Staff-Libraries). If such permission is granted, the department/program chair or PI or library director is responsible for assuring that the consulting activities of the Academic Staff member individual do not adversely impact the achievement of program or project goals or subject the University to financial or reputation risk. He or she may require periodic written or oral reports from the Academic Staff or Other Teaching Staff member in order to discharge this responsibility. The content of these reports, and the basis for the permission itself, are subject to review by the department chair, relevant dean, or Vice Provost and Dean of Research. See further discussion below. 


  1. Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff must maintain a significant presence on campus (main or overseas) throughout each quarter in which they are employed by Stanford, consistent with the scope of their appointment.
  2. Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff must not allow other professional activities to detract from their primary allegiance to Stanford. For example, individuals employed on a full-time basis must not have outside managerial responsibilities nor act as a principal investigator on sponsored projects that could be conducted at Stanford University but instead are submitted and managed through another institution.

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3. Conflict of Interest

Stanford University is an institution of public trust; Academic Staff as well as faculty must respect that status and conduct their affairs in ways that will not compromise the integrity of the University or that trust.

A conflict of interest occurs when there is a divergence between an individual's private interests and his or her professional obligations to the University such that an independent observer might reasonably question whether the individual's professional actions or decisions are determined by considerations of personal financial gain. A conflict of interest depends on the situation, and not on the character or actions of the individual.

Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff should conduct their affairs so as to avoid or minimize conflicts of interest, and must respond appropriately when conflicts of interest arise. Conflicts of interest must be disclosed to Stanford when personal financial relationships or activities with outside entities occur that would reasonably appear to be related to an Academic Staff member's Stanford institutional responsibilities for research/scholarship or education/teaching.

The following points of policy relate to conflicts of interest:

  1. Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff must foster the open and timely exchange of results of scholarly activities, informing faculty, students and colleagues about outside obligations and activities that might influence the free exchange of scholarly information.
  2. Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff must disclose on a timely basis the creation or discovery of all potentially patentable inventions created or discovered in the course of their University activities or with more than incidental use of University resources. If intellectual property rights are to be claimed, ownership of such inventions must be assigned to the University regardless of source of funding. The inventor will share in royalties earned.
  3. Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff must disclose on an annual and transactional/ad hoc basis to their supervisor, or to the principal investigator on their research, when they (or their spouse/domestic partner or dependent children) have a financial interest (defined below) in, an outside entity that would reasonably appear to be related to their institutional responsibilities. Disclosures of such interests are also required when the individual  is engaged in a specific transaction, including:
  • gifts
  • sponsored projects
  • technology licensing arrangements
  • protocols that use human subjects, animals, or stem cells
  • material transfer and collaboration agreements
  • certain procurements (e.g., sole source or from a privately-held company)

In such cases, review and approval by the school dean, the cognizant dean for COI or the designated COI program administrator will be required prior to entering into the proposed arrangement.

  1. Financial interests or other outside activities that are disclosed and deemed to be related to one or more of the Academic Staff or Other Teaching Staff member's institutional responsibilities will be further reviewed to determine if the financial interest or relationship could have a direct and significant effect on the performance of his or her responsibilities. If such a situation exists, the conflict will need to be eliminated or managed according to a plan provided to the individual by the cognizant dean for COI. Other administrative actions, such as disclosure in publications and public talks, may be required when the financial interest is not considered likely to directly and significantly affect performance of institutional responsibilities.
  2. Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff who are approved for Principal Investigator status are required to file appropriate transactional/ad hoc COI disclosures as required as well as an annual disclosure certifying compliance with the Faculty Conflict of Commitment and Interest Policy in RPH.

If a situation raising questions of conflict of commitment or interest arises, Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff must discuss the situation with their supervisor, principal investigator, or with the department chair or school dean or the person designated to assess conflicts of commitment and interest in their school or independent laboratory.

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4. Further Discussion of Consulting by Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff

The decision to permit consulting by an Academic Staff or Other Teaching Staff member will depend on the circumstances of each situation, including the needs of the program or project, the individual's role and the scope of his or her appointment. Such permission is subject to review as circumstances change. If permission is granted, time spent on consulting must be in addition to, rather than part of, the regular effort expected of the individual's University work.

It is the responsibility of each Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff member who wishes to engage in outside consulting to be aware of the University's limits on such activities. A full-time Academic Staff member's consulting activities may never exceed 13 days per calendar quarter (that is, one day in seven). This maximum applies to all periods of University employment, including vacations, quarter breaks, or other paid time off from work. Department chairs or PIs may limit an Academic Staff member's outside consulting activities to fewer than 13 days per quarter as necessary to meet University programmatic needs or project goals.

This policy is a University-wide policy. In addition, there may be further restrictions placed on Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff consulting activities within individual schools or independent laboratories, centers and institutes. Academic Staff should request information about further policy limits from the school dean's office or the Dean or Research.

When an Academic Staff or Other Teaching Staff member is involved in activities not directly associated with Stanford (e.g., independent consulting, other business activities, publications, etc.), use of Stanford's name and marks is limited to identification of the individual by his or her affiliation (e.g., Jane Smith, Senior Lecturer, Stanford University) and must be consistent with the guidance provided in Administrative Guide Memo 15.5. The title may only be used only during the term of the appointment at the University and must always be used in its entirety; it cannot be abbreviated or altered.

In the event of conflict between the provisions of any consulting agreement and the terms and conditions of employment of an Academic Staff or Other Teaching Staff member by Stanford, the latter shall prevail. The following sentence (or one similar) should be included in Academic Staff or Other Teaching Staff member's outside consulting agreements: “The terms and conditions of employment and appointment by Stanford University and the provisions of any agreement between Stanford and external sponsors of projects on which the consultant works as part of his/her University duties, shall prevail in the event of any conflict with the provisions of this Agreement."

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