Conflict of Commitment

As stated in Chapter 2.10.7 of the revised Faculty Handbook, “The University encourages faculty members to keep abreast of developments in their disciplines and to gain practical experience in their fields. In many instances, consulting work affords excellent opportunities for faculty to improve themselves professionally and to bring added prestige to them and to the University. The University looks favorably on appropriate consulting work by faculty members insofar as it does not interfere with full, proper, and effective performance of faculty duties and responsibilities.”

Recognizing that a faculty member’s primary professional commitment is to the University, the referenced section of the Handbook sets certain parameters for faculty involvement in outside activities:

  • Outside employment and paid consulting cannot exceed the equivalent of one day per work week without written authorization from the collegiate dean or institute director.
  • When consulting, faculty members should take care to preserve the distinction between projects undertaken through individual initiatives and projects sponsored or officially sanctioned by the University.
  • Outside business interests must not violate the Commonwealth’s conflict of interest laws … or the University’s two conflict of interest policies: 4001, Conflict of Interest in University Contracts and Businesses under Virginia Law … and 4010, Financial Conflicts of Interest in Federally Funded Research.
  • Faculty members may use university facilities, equipment, supplies or computer time in their consulting only after obtaining the approval of the collegiate dean or institute director.
  • Faculty must also secure approval of the collegiate dean or institute director before using university resources to support the activities of professional organizations. Full-time (twelve-month) faculty may not teach as “instructor of record” for another educational institution during the academic year (exceptions require the permission of the Provost). Full-time faculty who are teaching part-time at another institution may not at the same time teach overload courses. See Chapter 2.10.8.

In applying these principles, faculty should bear in mind that solicitation of extramural funding in substantial competition with the University, placing the faculty member’s personal interests above those of the University, raises conflict of commitment issues and should not be done. Finally, please note, in evaluating requests for the use of university resources for consulting, that publishers’ and vendors’ licenses often preclude use of University library materials for commercial purposes. Further information on this point may be obtained from the University library.

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