Conflict of Interest

Members of the UVU community lead varied and exciting lives on- and off-campus. They engage with business, industry, private foundations, nonprofits, and government agencies in both volunteer and compensated roles. We celebrate vigorous engagement with the world beyond our institution, and enjoy corollary learning opportunities, collaborations, and reputational benefits. Indeed, we encourage employees to make the most of their multifaceted pursuits by remaining cognizant of potential and apparent conflicts of interest. 

UVU's Compliance Office endeavors to assist employees with (1) identifying apparent and potential conflicts of interest and (2) strategically managing such conflicts. This process is preventive, not punitive. It aims to maximize the University's public confidence and the employee's professional credibility. It also helps to keep employees in compliance with the Utah Public Officers' and Employees' Ethics Act and UVU Policy.

 

Conflict of Interest Disclosure

Complete your Conflict of Interest Disclosure here.

Supervisor COI Dashboard

Access your employees' COI disclosure data here.

Disclosure and Management Process

1) Disclosure

All employees must answer the questions in the confidential Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form honestly and completely (1) upon hire, (2) annually, (3) after a substantial change in employment responsibilities, and (4) immediately when a conflict of interest arises.

Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form

2) Assessment

With help from the employee's supervisor and other specialists as needed, the University Compliance Officer will assess (1) whether an actual, potential, or apparent conflict of interests exists, and (2) whether the conflict is manageable.  A "yes" answer on the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form does not necessarily mean a conflict exists.

University Policy 114 Conflict of Interest

3) Management

Employees can resolve most apparent or potential conflicts of interest through thoughtful planning.  If a conflict of interest is present, the employee and their supervisor will create a confidential Conflict of Interest Management Plan.  The University Compliance Officer and the employee's supervisor must approve the management plan. 

Staff Conflict of Interest Management Plan Template (docx)

Faculty Conflict of Interest Management Plan Template (docx)

Frequently Asked Questions

Conflicts of Interest

If I write a textbook or create course materials, may I use them in my class?
Yes. Policy 606 states that “once approved through the review process outlined in section 5.3, faculty/employee-authored material may be assigned.” Policy 606, however, imposes restrictions on profiting from sales to the author’s own students.

May I or my family earn income from self-authored materials that I assign?

No. “Except for reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs, faculty and employees may not accept or retain royalties or any other personal compensation or material benefit from the sale or furnishing of course materials they authored to students in their own classes, in any classes in their department, or department/college for which they have authority to assign or recommend course materials. They may, however, designate such royalties or compensation into a department-wide fund, as approved by the college/school dean in consultation with the university Compliance Officer” (see Policy 606, section 5.2.3).

 

What are “out of pocket costs” related to self-authored course materials?
Employees may offset their calculated benefit from self-authored course materials with “out of pocket costs,” according to Policy 606 § 5.2.3. Out of pocket costs must be reasonable, specific, and required exclusively for the course material for which the expenditure is made (i.e., no lasting or alternative personal benefit beyond the development or delivery of the associated course material to UVU students). Purchasing a personal computer to write a textbook, for example, will not count as an “out of pocket cost” because the purchase benefits the employee beyond the development and delivery of the course materials to UVU students.
May I sell course material to students?
No. “Faculty and employees, whether part-time or full-time, are prohibited from selling materials directly to students for any class, laboratory, project, or other activities sponsored in the name of the University” (see Policy 606, section 5.5.1). Direct sale of course material is prohibited regardless of authorship.
May university departments sell course material directly to students?
Sometimes. Policy 222 Bookstore allows sales of course material with approval of the appropriate dean in consultation with the Bookstore Director. When conducting an approved sale, vendors and university departments must operate in conformity with annual guidelines maintained by the Bookstore Director and approved by President's Council.
May I supervise a spouse or relative?
Not directly. If a spouse or relative reports indirectly to you, you must disclose that reporting relationship on your COI Disclosure Form and complete a written management plan to clarify that you will abstain from influencing employment decisions related to your spouse or family member.
May I teach a spouse or relative in my course?
Yes, but in the case of credit-bearing courses the department chair or the dean must designate another appropriate employee such as a faculty member or teaching assistant to grade the student’s academic coursework (including papers, exams, projects, portfolios, and demonstrations) and assign a final grade for the course.
May I accept reimbursement (up front or after-the-fact) from a conference or workshop sponsor for travel, food, or lodging?

Generally, yes. Gifts greater than $50 are prohibited when

  1. they would “tend to improperly influence a reasonable person” to depart from faithful and impartial performance of their job. Reimbursing ordinary airfare, food, and hotel are generally not regarded as so extraordinary that it would improperly influence the recipient.
  2. the employee “recently has been, is now, or in the near future may be” involved in any UVU action directly affecting the donor. If you will make decisions about a specific vendor’s contract with UVU, it’s best to avoid any gift from that vendor above $50.
There is some question whether reimbursements of basic necessities are a “gift” in the sense that there is no net positive bestowed on you personally. A reimbursement simply helps offset UVU’s cost of sending you to do your UVU job. It covers human necessities related to UVU travel such as food, shelter, and transportation. Of course, context matters. If you stayed in a luxury resort in the South Pacific or if your transportation were a Carnival Cruise Ship, this would go beyond the industry and cultural norms of human necessity and work engagement, and may instead be considered a personal benefit. But most destinations and accommodations for normal professional gatherings aren’t inherently “gifts” to an individual. They’re reimbursements to UVU.
Should I take personal leave to attend a conference?

Not if you are presenting or attending on behalf of UVU (i.e., it’s part of your job). If you are presenting or attending in your personal capacity or as a non-UVU consultant then yes, you should take personal leave or approved consulting leave. If it’s a combination of the two (such as pre-approved personal days in the city following your conference), take personal leave only for the personal days.

See Policy 251 Traveling on University Business for information on UVU travel and expense reimbursements.

May I accept compensation for presenting or serving on boards outside of UVU?

Yes. You may accept compensation for non-UVU service and speaking engagements, so long as you are not acting as a spokesperson or representative of UVU. Just because the host identifies you as a UVU employee does not mean you are presenting or serving on behalf of UVU.  In the unusual circumstance where outside compensation is offered for performing your UVU duties on behalf of UVU, the compensation properly belongs to UVU and appropriate UVU personnel should decide how it is allocated.

May I give a talk, serve on a panel or commission, or otherwise benefit a non-UVU academic institution that may “compete” for students?
Generally yes. We believe in higher education and understand that we’re part of a broad and varied educational quilt designed to meet the needs of students in Utah and beyond. While on campus or serving in your UVU role, do not recruit students away from UVU or actively advertise for other institutions or providers. UVU employees, however, may certainly promote education beyond UVU in numerous ways, bearing in mind potential conflict of commitment issues addressed below and in Policy 114.

May I employ UVU students or offer internships through my outside business?

Yes, if the employment/internship is completely voluntary for the student. It is a conflict of interest for a faculty or staff member to use their UVU position to assign students to work for their non-UVU business or personal interest. Faculty members, moreover, may not consider student-intern/employee performance as a factor in assigning UVU course grades for that student. A faculty member’s UVU courses and outside interests must remain separate, and student involvement in an employee’s non-UVU interests must be voluntary.

Arranging internship opportunities through the UVU Office of Internship Services, where the employee’s internship is just one among many options for students, is a good way to diminish conflict concerns.
May I use my office for non-UVU work?
No. Your UVU office is for your UVU work. You may use your office only if specifically approved through Policy 323 Guidelines for Consulting, which requires that such consulting occur with appropriate pre-approvals, as a short-term advisory role, without interfering in the normal operations of the department, and only after showing a relationship to the employee’s professional interests and the University’s interests.
May I use other UVU space for non-UVU work?
Yes. You may reserve and pay for the usage of UVU facilities on the same terms as any member of the general public. See Policy 425 Scheduling for details.
May UVU employees market products/services to colleagues, students, or visitors at UVU (e.g., essential oils, kitchenware, dietary supplements, etc.)?
Generally no. Employees may not leverage their UVU positions and UVU professional relationships to establish a customer base for their personal business or charitable activities. Employees may engage in such activities outside of work hours and the workplace with individuals who happen to be members of the UVU community.
May UVU employees assist others in marketing products/services to colleagues, students, or visitors at UVU (e.g., Girl Scout cookies, school fundraisers, GoFundMe campaigns, house cleaning, etc.)?
Generally no. Employees may not leverage their UVU positions and UVU professional relationships to establish a customer base for their families’ or friends’ businesses or charitable activities. Employees may engage in such activities outside of work hours and the workplace with individuals who happen to be members of the UVU community.
May a UVU department or unit purchase goods or services from a UVU employee?

Yes, in certain circumstances.

First, there must be no self-dealing. An employee-UVU transaction is permissible only if the employee selling the goods/services does not hold a position at UVU where they can influence or participate in the transaction in their official UVU capacity. For example, an employee whose UVU job includes selecting food vendors for special events may not sell cookies to UVU for special events.

Second, a UVU department or unit may not purchase goods or services from a UVU employee if the employee’s UVU job fairly includes the provision of those goods or services. For example, a UVU employee should not be compensated (beyond normal compensation for their job) for conducting a software training when that employee’s UVU job duties include or relate to similar trainings.

Conflicts of Commitment

Is it a conflict of commitment for faculty to engage in scholarly activities?

No. Faculty are expected to engage in scholarship as part of their role at UVU. Faculty members, of course, may not neglect their teaching responsibilities to engage in scholarship. Policy 635 says “faculty members are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the acceptable performance of their other academic duties” (section 4.3.1). “Faculty members,” moreover, “have a responsibility to develop and improve their scholarly/creative competence” (section 4.3.2).

This sort of scholarly production and development will look different from discipline to discipline. Whether an activity is truly part of a faculty member’s UVU role is best determined by faculty and academic administrators who are familiar with the relevant discipline.

Is it a conflict of commitment for faculty to engage in service?

No. Faculty are expected to engage in service as part of their role at UVU. Moreover, Policy 635 states that “faculty members are expected to participate in the academic organizations and professional communities of their disciplines” (section 4.4.1).

Faculty members, of course, may not neglect their teaching and other responsibilities to engage in service. Policy 637 Faculty Tenure refers to “service” as “service activities at the University, to one’s profession, and in the community that are clearly related to the faculty member’s role” (section 3.7). This looks different from discipline to discipline.

Whether an activity is truly part of a faculty member’s UVU role is best determined by faculty and academic administrators who are familiar with the relevant discipline.

Is it a conflict of commitment to serve on internal UVU committees?
No. These sorts of engagements are encouraged and are often natural extensions of employees’ primary job functions. Employees and supervisors, however, should exercise sound judgment in appropriately balancing employees’ various duties and discretionary UVU service activities.
How much non-UVU engagement is “too much” (i.e., a conflict of commitment)?

There is no one-size-fits-all. Employees may engage in non-UVU professional and personal commitments. Employees must ensure, however, that non-UVU activities don’t interfere with the performance of their UVU duties or their ability to work the hours required for their position. Full-time employees are expected to work at least 40 hours per week on their UVU job duties. For faculty, this includes teaching, teaching preparation, office hours, attending department and college meetings, scholarship, and service.

Non-UVU activities must not require such extensive time or absence as to cause a faculty member to neglect course obligations, become unavailable to students or colleagues (including office hours and department meetings), or otherwise violate Policy 635 Faculty Rights and Professional Responsibilities. These are case-by-case judgments, as each department has nuanced demands and expectations.

Some outside activities are an expected and encouraged part of certain employees’ university roles. For example, our policies encourage faculty involvement in related scholarly and service opportunities (e.g., conference participation) that will enhance knowledge/expertise and improve the quality of teaching at UVU. Other outside engagements, such as adjuncting at another institution or pursuing personal hobbies, are really “non-UVU” in nature, and therefore may compete with UVU time commitments.

May full-time UVU employees engage in full-time non-UVU employment?

No. For full-time employees, including full-time faculty members, engaging in outside full-time employment (or a combination of part-time work equivalent to full-time employment) would pose an unmanageable conflict of commitment.

May full-time UVU employees engage in part-time non-UVU employment?

Outside part-time employment for full-time UVU employees is generally discouraged but not prohibited. Part-time employment would create a conflict of commitment if it interferes with an employee’s performance of their UVU duties or requires special scheduling accommodations (such as never being available on a certain days of the business week or for department meetings). Employees should schedule any outside employment or business activities around their UVU obligations. UVU should not be harmed or inconvenienced in order to accommodate its employees’ unavailability due to outside employment and business activities.

Outside employment or consulting must always be disclosed on the employee’s Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form.

May full-time UVU employees engage in non-UVU adjunct teaching?

Full-time faculty may not engage in adjunct teaching at another academic institution during their UVU teaching semesters without approval from the relevant dean. Similarly, full-time staff similarly may not engage in adjunct teaching without approval from their immediate supervisor, vice president, and, if at UVU, the dean of the college where they intend to teach.

When permissible, adjuncting at other academic institutions must not interfere with the employee’s performance of their UVU duties, require special scheduling accommodations, or otherwise create a conflict of interest. This is a non-UVU activity and must be balanced against the primary time commitment at UVU. Factors such as number of course hours, online versus face-to-face, flexibility on timing (evenings/weekends), and distance from delivery location are relevant considerations.

Outside adjuncting engagements must be disclosed on the employee’s Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form.

May full-time UVU employees engage in consulting?

Yes. Consulting activities, however, may not interfere with the performance of an employee’s UVU duties such as attending and preparing for scheduled classes, office hours, and departmental meetings. Sometimes consulting and scholarship/service are combined in a single endeavor (see FAQs above), which may help diminish the potential for a conflict of commitment and justify the use of “consulting leave.”

Up to two days/month of paid consulting leave may be available for employees to engage in consulting (i.e., acting in an advisory capacity for a short period of time) during normal work hours or on campus. Employees wishing to use consulting leave must demonstrate that use of consultation release time has a demonstrable relationship to the employee’s professional interests and the University’s interests, and obtain supervisor approval via the Request for Consultation Form (Policy 323, section 4.1.2). See Policy 323 Guidelines for Consulting and associated guidelines for more detail on the approval process and requirements.

Consulting engagements must always be disclosed on the employee’s Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form.

May full-time UVU employees engage in volunteerism?

Yes. UVU employees may engage in non-UVU activities including community service positions, religious positions, political positions, and others. However, these positions may not interfere with the employee’s ability to carry out the duties of their UVU position.

What about summer and time between semesters?

Faculty teaching schedules vary during the year. This is an important factor in determining whether a non-UVU activity presents a conflict of commitment. Generally, summer schedules allow for more vigorous engagement in UVU scholarship, service, and non-UVU activities.

General

What is the supervisor’s role in the Conflict of Interest process? 

The entire Conflict of Interest disclosure, review, and management process depends on the active engagement of supervisors. Supervisors know their employees’ UVU roles and activities, and, ideally, have established relationships built on genuine care. Given their unique position, supervisors should help their employees spot and avoid situations that present conflict of interest concerns.

Once aware of a concern, supervisors should reach out to University Compliance to help evaluate whether a potential conflict exists and how it ought to be managed/avoided. Immediate supervisors are responsible for reviewing their employee’s disclosures and raising any concerns with the employee and University Compliance. This includes verifying that potential conflicts known to the supervisor are disclosed on an updated Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form. Caring supervisors help their employees avoid trouble and find solutions to potential pitfalls.

Supervisors should visit the Supervisor COI Dashboard (uvu.edu/compliance/conflict_interest) periodically to ensure they’re up to date on their employees’ disclosure concerns, questions, and compliance status.

When I disclose something on my Conflict of Interest of Disclosure Form, does that mean I have a conflict of interest or commitment?

Not necessarily. In fact, most disclosures from UVU employees are not conflicts. Please answer the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form questions honestly and completely, even if you don’t think your response implicates a conflict of interest or commitment. Your supervisor will review and raise any concerns with you and with University Compliance. You, your supervisor, and University Compliance will evaluate whether a potential or actual conflict is present and how to manage it.

In the vast majority of cases, potential conflicts are easily manageable and do not require a prohibition on the outside activity.

Who do I contact if I have further questions about conflicts of interest or commitment?

University Compliance at compliance@uvu.edu or 801-863-5630.

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