Conflict of Commitment Policy

The University recognizes the contributions and achievements of its faculty by appropriate promotion and salary advancement and permits them substantial freedom in arranging their academic lives. This freedom is, however, subject to the principle that the primary professional loyalty of full-time faculty is to the University. The potential magnitude of outside professional activity is such that orderly procedures must be followed to avoid conflicts of commitment and conflicts of interest and to ensure that such activities do not conflict with the proper discharge of University responsibilities. This conflict of commitment policy covers conflicts of time commitments between outside activities and University responsibilities. The conflict of interest policy can be found on the Research Office website.

This document is not intended to provide specific rules covering all possible situations, but rather to establish the spirit in which interactions with entities outside the University should be undertaken. In general, personal responsibility, integrity, and high ethical standards are the principal guides in avoiding conflicts of commitment, and the University expects that all members of the faculty will conduct their outside activities in a manner that reflects credit on themselves, their profession, and the University. The principal safeguards against abuse are the standards imposed by professional colleagues during periodic reviews, and the rigorous process by which the University evaluates and selects individuals for appointment and promotion.

Activities considered to be within the regular work duties of faculty members include: teaching; research and application of research findings; preparation, publication, and review of articles and books (whether for royalty or not); preparation and delivery of lectures; consultation to government agencies, serving on advisory bodies, memberships and activities in professional societies; and participation in artistic performances or activities. In each of these, the following must apply: 1) the activities are related to the faculty member's professional field; and 2) no extra compensation is received other than royalties from publications, or small honoraria typically given for service on federal or state agency advisory panels or seminars at other universities. Use of the Request for Approval of Outside Activities form is not required for such activities.

Activities considered to be "outside" the faculty member's regular duties are consulting for additional remuneration, (e.g., providing services to individuals or firms, educational programs presented by private firms or independently by faculty members), or a deeper involvement with commercial enterprises (e.g. ownership in a commercial enterprise, holding a line management position). These outside activities have the potential for both conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment. Faculty must complete annually the appropriate Research Office conflicts of interest forms to ensure that there are no research conflicts of interest, and must disclose any additional potential financial conflicts of interest to their supervisor. Before engaging in outside activities in their field, faculty must also complete the Request for Approval of Outside Activities form to ensure there are no conflicts of commitment. This form can be found here:

The remainder of this document refers only to conflicts of commitment.

Professorial Faculty

It is University policy to encourage its professorial faculty members to undertake outside activities that will increase their effectiveness and broaden their experience in relation to their functions at the University, or which will be of service to the community, private sector, nation, or world, provided:

  1. The cumulative total of outside professional activities and overload activities does not interfere with the performance of the faculty member's University duties.
  2. The outside activities do not involve use of University property, facilities, equipment, or services, except in limited circumstances when approved by the faculty member's department head/chair and dean, or the dean and Provost.
  3. The outside activities are approved by the Department Head/Chair and Dean, using the Request for Approval of Outside Activities form. A copy of the approved document should be filed with and approved by the Office of Faculty Affairs before the outside activity begins. If the proposed activity includes signing an agreement concerning rights in inventions or materials, the agreement must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Technology Transfer.
  4. The faculty member makes it clear to the outside employer, and to all others with whom the faculty member interacts, that he or she is acting in an individual capacity and does not speak, write, or act in the name of the University.
  5. The faculty member does not list his or her University contact information in commercial listings or other public documents, the purpose of which is to draw attention to the individual's availability for compensatory service. Further, use of the University name, logo, and stationery is prohibited.
  6. The outside activity is consistent with policies of the faculty member's college, school, or division.

The decision whether to approve a request for approval of outside activities is within the discretion of the University. With supervisor approval, a full-time professorial faculty member may engage in outside professional activities related to his or her University responsibilities one day in each work week during periods of full-time employment. A part-time professorial faculty member is allowed to devote to such outside activities a proportionate amount of the faculty member's FTE. With supervisor approval, a reasonable amount of averaging the time allowance over the quarters of an academic year is permissible. Nine-month professorial faculty are free to consult up to full-time during summer months without securing University approval. Nine-month professorial faculty who are on academic wage appointments in the summer may consult in the summer on the same basis as 12-month professorial faculty, with University approval.

As part of the periodic review of each professorial faculty member, the supervisor shall include an assessment of the faculty member's outside activities. The review will include an evaluation of the effect of the outside activities on the faculty member's normal job activities. If they negatively affect the faculty member's performance, the faculty member shall be encouraged to reduce his/her outside activities and may be denied subsequent approval for outside commitments.

Other Academic Ranks and Professional Faculty

Non-professorial faculty may engage in outside activities during non-working hours, or when on annual leave, without securing University approval. The use of University name, property, equipment, etc., is not allowed. An employee who engages in outside activities related to the employee's regular University duties must disclose any potential financial conflicts of interest to his or her supervisor.

Approval Procedures

A Request for Approval of Outside Activities form must be signed by the department head/chair, Dean, and Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. If approved, the Senior Vice Provost's office will send the original to Human Resources and copies of the completed form to the faculty member, department chair/director, and Dean. If the proposed activity includes signing an agreement concerning rights in inventions or materials, the agreement must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Technology Transfer.

Appeals Policy

In the event the faculty member is denied the opportunity to engage in outside activities by his/her supervisor, the employee may file a grievance in accordance with the faculty grievance process. See OAR 576-050-0010 to 0055.

Monitoring Procedure

It is important to record instances of professional involvement in outside activities in order to monitor the extent of such interactions and to assess their impacts on the primary functions of the University -- teaching, research, and public service. Because the nature of faculty participation in outside activities differs greatly among disciplines and departments, the details of the most appropriate reporting method must be developed and maintained by each unit individually. However, some centralization is necessary to ensure that information for the entire University is gathered and that its format allows ready interpretation outside the unit where it originated. Therefore, the Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs shall be responsible for collecting and evaluating reports of faculty involvement in outside activities.

This policy does not cover outside activities which are totally outside and unrelated to the academic or professional field in which the faculty member has responsibilities for the University. Any conflict of commitment due to such activities will be addressed through the University performance review process.


Faculty who fail to comply with this policy are subject to sanctions for cause ranging from a warning to dismissal, in accordance with the rules of the State Board of Higher Education, OAR 580-21-320 and following.