Guidance on Faculty Appointments and Conflicts on Interest

How to Manage Faculty Appointments and Conflicts

Understanding the Policy

Pursuant to the University Statutes (Article IX, Section 5, c, d), full-time members of the academic staff shall fulfill the responsibilities associated with the rank and terms of their appointment. Active participation in external activities, however, can enhance professional skills and/or constitute public service that is beneficial to the university and the individual. 

To ensure that tenure-system faculty and other full-time academic staff members are primarily committing their time and intellectual energies to the teaching, scholarly research, service, and public engagement activities of the university, prior written approval must be obtained before engaging in non-university activities.

It is the responsibility of each full-time faculty and academic staff to ensure that external activities do not interfere with the interests of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. To permit the university to monitor the activity on an ongoing basis, the faculty must follow the process set forth in the Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy (COCI)

Always Obtain Prior Written Approval for Potentially Conflicting Non-University Activities 

(for Outside Time Commitments, Consulting, Work, Research, and more)

According to the Conflicts of Commitment and Interest (COCI) Policy, “[a]cademic staff members are required to obtain prior written approval for all non-university income producing activities, to disclose promptly relationships which may give rise to a potential conflict of interest, and to respond fully and in a timely manner to inquiries from [their unit executive officer] in connection with these requests and disclosures.” The policy explains that:

  • A conflict of commitment arises when the external activities of an academic staff member are so demanding of time or attention that they interfere with the individual's responsibilities to the university. 
  • A conflict of interest occurs when the academic staff member is in a position to advance his or her own interests or those of a third party, to the university's detriment.

Examples of COI Situations

Examples of situations that potentially can create a conflict of commitment/interest include:

  • Outside teaching by full-time faculty, other than that assigned or approved by the department.
  • Outside consulting takes a significant amount of time away from university responsibilities.
  • An honorary faculty title or appointment (whether paid or unpaid) that could result in intellectual property/citations or other scholarly accomplishments of UIUC faculty being attributed to another institution. 

Please note that these examples are by no means exhaustive. 

Faculty Relationships with Other Higher Education Institutions

Faculty relationships (e.g., employment, appointments and other income producing activities) with other institutions of higher education pose particularly sensitive conflict of interest and commitment issues. All such outside activities must be disclosed and pre-approved.

Please note, however, that a faculty member who accepts a tenure-track or tenured position at the university may not hold a tenure-track or tenured position at another institution of higher education. Exceptions to this policy are extremely rare and must be approved by the unit executive office, the dean, and the provost.

What Happens if You Violate This Policy?

Failure to obtain written permission prior to engaging in non-university activities may violate UIUC policy (see Policy on Conflicts of Commitment and Interest for information regarding activities requiring prior approval) and also could violate Illinois law (University Faculty Research and Consulting Act, 110 ILCS 100/1). Such violations could result in appropriate employment action.

Policy Sources