Volume II: Campus Community

2.44 Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment Policy

2.44 Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment Policy

2.44.1 Policy Statement

Ithaca College expects all executive officers, faculty, staff and student employees (together referenced in this policy as "employee(s)") to avoid conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment (as defined below) related to the performance of their obligations to the College.   This statement identifies the College's policies in relation to conflicts of interest and commitment and contains its compliance requirements.

2.44.2 Reasons for the Policies

These policies establish standards of conduct designed to maintain academic, research, and business integrity. They are intended to heighten employee awareness of situations that present a conflict of interest or of commitment so that potential conflicts may be avoided, or disclosed and properly managed. These policies make every effort to balance the integrity and interests of the College with those of individual employees. They seek not only to help employees identify instances where conflicts might arise, but also to assist employees in eliminating or managing actual conflicts and when possible, to prevent the appearance of conflicts.

2.44.3 Applicability of the Policies

These policies apply to all employees, whether full-time or part-time.  Persons whose employment is governed by collective bargaining agreements may be subject to related provisions of those agreements.   If a provision in the collective bargaining agreement conflicts with a provision of this policy the collective bargaining agreement language will prevail. These policies are intended to supplement federal and state law requirements as to matters including sponsored research as well as professional ethics and other conduct standards that may apply to particular professions or disciplines. The policies are not intended to supersede the institutional policy governing research conflicts of interest, which governs as to all matters within its stated scope.

2.44.4 Conflicts of  Interests Policy

2.44.4.1 Conflicts of Interests

A conflict of interest   exists when (I) an employee, (ii) his/her family member (as defined below), or (iii) an entity in which an employee or his/her family member is an employee, officer, director, member or manager,   and/or has any financial or economic interest (excluding, in the case of securities which are publicly traded, ownership of less than 5% of the outstanding securities of any class), has an existing or potential personal, financial or other interest that: (a) might reasonably be expected to impair the employee's   independence of judgment in the discharge of responsibilities to the College; or (b) may result in personal gain or advancement at the expense of the College.   For purposes of this policy, a "family member" includes an individual's spouse or domestic partner; parents and siblings of an individual or the individual's spouse or domestic partner; ancestors; children, grandchildren and great grandchildren; spouses or domestic partners of siblings, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren; as well as persons with whom an individual has a step-relationship, as applicable, of the type described above and/or others as to whom it would reasonably appear that the individual has a relationship involving an interest in such person comparable to those listed above.

College employees are required to fulfill their responsibilities with due care and loyalty to the best interests of the institution. The integrity of the College must be protected at all times, both in actuality and appearance. Conflicts of interest therefore must be: (1) disclosed, and (2) eliminated or properly managed.

2.44.4.2 Applicable Procedures

Officers of the College must annually file a conflicts disclosure form on a schedule established and approved by the Board of Trustees. Forms must be updated during the reporting period as relevant circumstances change.

Faculty must disclose conflicts of interest as they arise to their deans using a conflicts disclosure form.

Staff and Student Employees must disclose conflicts to their supervisors as conflicts arise on the conflicts of interest disclosure form.

The duty to disclose conflicts of interest as provided in this policy is a continuing duty, and each individual covered by this policy shall disclose any conflict of interest involving him or her as soon as possible after he or she learns of it in any context.   Disclosure is not limited to an annual or other periodic schedule.

Following an employee's disclosure of a proposed endeavor or activity that may create a conflict of interest, the matter will be reviewed by his or her supervisor (Dean or Vice President).  If a faculty related conflict is reviewed by a Dean and determined to exist the decision may be appealed to the Provost and Vice-President for Educational Affairs.   If the conflict involves a Vice President the conflict must be disclosed in writing to, and reviewed by, the President.  If the conflict involves the President, the conflict must be disclosed in writing to, and reviewed by, the Chair of the Board of Trustees.

After discussion with the employee as appropriate, the reviewing official will require one of the following steps to be taken:

  1. no action required beyond the disclosure;
  2. development of a conflicts management plan memorialized in writing;
  3. modification of College responsibilities, as mutually agreed, under applicable policies; or
  4. prohibition of the activity in cases of irreconcilable conflicts.

At a minimum, in the event that the reviewing official determines that a conflict of interest exists, he or she shall require that the employee not be present at or participate in any deliberations, discussions and/or decisions relating to the matter with respect to which the conflict exists, or attempt to improperly influence any deliberations or voting regarding the matter.

2.44.4.3 Prohibited Conflicts of Interest

The following conflicts of interest are expressly prohibited, and must be managed as set forth below:

  • Making a decision to employ, promote, or terminate a family member; or setting salary or wages, approving time cards or employment records for, or evaluating the performance of, a family member. Where, by virtue of reporting lines, an employee would otherwise make these decisions regarding a family member, an appropriate alternative administrator must be designated by the President. If the employee is the President, the designation must be made by the Chair of the board of trustees.
  • Negotiating or authorizing on behalf of the College a contract or other business transaction for services, goods, or products, from a company or enterprise in which the employee or his/her family member is an employee, officer, director, member or manager and/or has a financial or economic interest as described above.    Where, by virtue of position, an employee would otherwise make these decisions, an appropriate alternative administrator must be designated by the employee's supervisor in consultation with the appropriate Vice President.  If the employee is a Vice President, the designation must be made by the President.   If the employee is the President, the designation must be made by the Chair of the board of trustees.
  • Approving forgiveness of a debt of the College to an external entity in which the employee or his/her family member is an employee, officer, director, member or manager and/or has a financial or economic interest as described above, or forgiveness of a debt of such an entity to the College.  Where, by virtue of position, an employee would otherwise make these decisions, an appropriate alternative administrator must be designated by the employee's supervisor in consultation with the appropriate Vice President.    If the employee is a Vice President, the designation must be made by the President.   If the employee is the President, the designation must be made by the Chair of the board of trustees.

2.44.4.4 Other Prohibited Conduct:

The following conduct, even if not involving a conflict of interest as defined above, is prohibited:

  • Accepting, soliciting, or offering bribes, kickbacks, or other improper incentives or payments from or to a third party or another employee in the course of College employment.
  • Accepting cash or non-cash gifts of any type having more than nominal value, including goods, services, travel, or entertainment, at no cost or discounted prices, from persons or entities doing business with the College, in consideration of the employee's College business or professional relationship with the person or entity.            (This prohibition does not, however, include honoraria, meals, or reimbursement of reasonably incurred travel expenses in consideration of a speaking or comparable appearance made or given by an employee in his/her professional or official capacity, whether in relation to external or College activities).
  • Disclosing,   or  otherwise   using  on  an  unauthorized   basis,  College  confidential  or proprietary information to which the employee has access in the course of College duties.
  • Employing College employees or students, over whom the employee has supervisory responsibility or authority, for non-College endeavors or activities (does not include faculty and staff taking students on conferences for co-presentation of papers, presentations, or other academic related trips) without approval of the applicable Dean or Vice President.   If the supervisory employee is a Vice President, approval must be obtained from the President.   If the supervisory employee is the President, approval must be obtained from the Chair of the board of trustees.
  • Accepting any form of remuneration, financial or otherwise, for endorsement  of the products or services of a business or individual where a College title or employment is an express or implied  aspect   of  the  endorsement, without  approval  of  the  applicable  Vice  President.    If the supervisory employee is a Vice President, approval must be obtained from the President.   If the supervisory employee is the President, approval must be obtained from the Chair of the board of trustees.
  • Acquiring or holding any financial interest in an entity that competes with the College, excluding interests held in publicly traded companies.
  • Serving as an executive officer or on the board of directors of a for-profit or non-profit entity, such as a corporation, association, or partnership, regardless of remuneration, that interacts with the College in ways that might result in undue benefit to the other organization.

2.44.5 Conflict of Commitment Policy

2.44.5.1 Conflicts of Commitment

The paramount work commitment of a full-time College employee is to his or her position at Ithaca College. It is the responsibility of the employee to manage his/her external activities so that they do not interfere with his or her Ithaca College obligations. A conflict of commitment occurs when external activities undertaken by an Ithaca College employee will or reasonably can be expected to interfere with his or her ability to perform their College responsibilities fully or effectively.

Employees who wish to engage in activities, including external employment, compensated independent consulting, and uncompensated activities, that will or reasonably can be expected to interfere with their College responsibilities must inform their supervisors in writing of the proposed activity before making the commitment.

Promptly after receipt of the written disclosure, the supervisor will schedule a meeting with the employee to discuss how to manage the situation.

The supervisor and the employee must attempt to develop a written conflict management plan. The plan may include monitoring the activity to ensure that employees are able to complete their College obligations, modification of assignments (including any commensurate compensation reduction), or a leave of absence arranged under otherwise applicable leave policies. If agreement cannot be reached on a plan, the supervisor will inform the employee that he or she must fulfill College responsibilities and inform him/her of the possible consequences of failing to fulfill these responsibilities.

2.44.5.2 Other Outside Activities

All employees have a primary commitment to the College and will be sensitive to the possible adverse effects of their external activities.   The College encourages participation in community and civic activities.   Employees who consider serving in elected or appointed positions on local government councils, boards, commissions or similar entities are required to disclose such part-time opportunities with their supervisors to ensure that there is no conflict with their primary commitment to the College.    Employees must recognize that the appearance that a conflict may be present is as important as the reality.

Many outside activities in which an employee may wish to engage, such as certain outside employment, private activities, involvement in public organizations, public service, and political involvement, present no conflicts of interest and can enhance the reputation of the College.   When engaging in an otherwise permissible endeavor or activity, the employee must nonetheless make clear when she or he is acting as a private individual rather than as a representative of the College.   In this regard, employees must abide by the terms of College policies governing use of trademarks and use of the College’s name, symbols, letterhead and other proprietary indicia of affiliation.

2.44.6 REPORTING OF POSSIBLE POLICY VIOLATIONS

Supervisors are required to investigate promptly possible violations of these policies. If a policy violation is proven, the supervisor must take appropriate responsive action, which may include disciplinary measures up to and including dismissal. Possible violations may be reported to the employee's supervisor, the Office of Human Resources or to the Ethics Reporting Hotline at ethics@ithaca.edu. No retaliatory action will be tolerated on the part of a College employee or official against persons making such a report in good faith and/or cooperating with an investigation of such a report.

2.44.7 Forms

On-line Conflicts Disclosure Form

Conflict of Interest and Commitment Update Form

2.44.8 Related Documents/Policies

NOTE: All preexisting policies with the exception of the Board of Trustees conflict of interest policy covering the same subject matter as these policies, and as contained in the Ithaca College Policy Manual are superseded as of the effective date of adoption of this policy.

 

Approved: September 28, 2015