CONFLICT OF INTEREST STATEMENT FOR THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Senate Policy 201.1
The federal government is in the process of updating its regulations related to conflict of interest policies
and practices related to university sponsored program activities. These changes are expected to be
significant, and will particularly impact public disclosure of conflicts and significant financial interests of
individuals. The Vice President for Research and the Office of Research Integrity and Compliance have
worked with the Senate Research Policy Committee to revise Board Policy 4.7 Conflict of Interest, and
the Senate passed the amended policy as Senate Proposal 38-11 on April 6, 2011. The revision provides a
policy that is consistent with both the current and anticipated regulations, and removes much of the
procedural detail that was incorporated into the current policy. Once the final federal regulations are
issued, the procedures will be modified for implementation.
Chapter 3. Faculty Rights and Responsibilities
Section 3.1 General Policy
3.1.1 Conflict of Interest/Effort
Conflicts can be divided into two basic categories. The first covers what many people
associate with the term conflict of interest--opportunities for inappropriate personal gain during the
pursuit of official duties. These gains may be financial, but other forms of benefit (power, political
advantage, etc.) might also be involved. Another form of conflict has been labeled conflict of
commitment, and refers to the choices individuals make about their professional priorities, especially the
allocation of their time to the different institutions and organizations they serve as professionals. Conflicts
of commitment may emerge when outside professional activities take priority over other professional
responsibilities of members of the Michigan Technological University community to the University.
With respect to paid members of the Michigan Technological University community, the
term "conflict of
interest" as used herein is intended to include "conflicts of commitment." With respect to volunteers such
as members of the Board of Trustees, the Tech Fund and Alumni Boards, only those conflicts of a
pecuniary nature are encompassed by the term "conflict of interest."
Statement of General Principles
Upon becoming a member of the Michigan Technological University community, which includes
members of the Board of Trustees and other volunteer boards, every individual makes a commitment to
the University. Those who accept full-time University appointments or employment are expected to
accord the University their primary professional loyalty. Every paid member of the community is expected to arrange their personal interests and activities so as not to conflict with their commitment to
This does not mean that members of the Michigan Technological University community
involvement in outside activities both public and private. To the contrary, such involvement often serves
the University as a whole and the greater public interest. A state-funded, public university such as
Michigan Tech is expected to be broadly engaged in meeting the needs of society for its improvement and
enrichment, including the application of new knowledge and improved technologies. Therefore, Michigan
Tech strongly encourages outside professional activity by faculty, staff, and administrators, for such
efforts usually complement the other responsibilities of members of the Michigan Tech community.
Nothing in this policy should be interpreted as discouraging such efforts.
Nonetheless, the efforts of members of the Michigan Technological University community
their commitments of time to the University and to outside professional interests must result in their
primary professional commitment of time being made to the University. Similarly, avoidance of conflict
of interest requires that individuals not realize gain, financial or otherwise, from the inappropriate use of
University property, funds, equipment, or prestige. Also, individuals should not realize gain from outside
professional interests that would improperly influence the conduct of their University duties.
Conflicts of interest are inherent in the requirements and expectations placed on
members of academic
communities such as Michigan Technological University.
Because conflicts are unavoidable in many instances, this conflict of interest policy
is designed to assist
members of the Michigan Technological University community to recognize and deal with those real and
perceived conflicts that arise. The most basic and important procedure for achieving both a balance of
commitment and preventing or enabling the University to manage conflicts of interest with financial
implications is full and open disclosure of significant interests and potential conflicts between an
individual's public and official obligations and responsibilities on the one hand, and outside professional
goals and interests on the other.
Recognizing and disclosing the existence of conflicts of interest and commitment must
be, primarily, the
responsibility of individual members of the Michigan Tech community. Individuals have to be guided by
a sense of professional responsibility, which must include the recognition that they have a public trust as
employees of a public university and must be sensitive to potential conflicts. A standard that should be
applied in thinking about conflicts of interest is how matters will appear to an outside third party. In this
respect, actions by individuals should protect the integrity of Michigan Tech . To that end, periodic and
transactional disclosure of significant financial interests (as defined by federal regulations) by individual
members of the Michigan Tech community allows the objective determination of whether a financial
conflict of interest exists in any given situation.
Members of the University community engaged in research and scholarly activities have
need to maintain objectivity and to insure that inappropriate bias is not introduced into their scholarship.
Agencies providing support for research and scholarly activities may have conflict of interest disclosure
and training requirements, and it is the intent of the University to be in compliance with those external
Michigan Technological University has a responsibility to help individuals resolve,
or at least minimize,
conflicts of interest. Administrators have a special responsibility of creating both an environment and the
conditions that encourage full disclosure and the mitigation of conflicts.
Mitigation of Conflicts
No individual having a direct or indirect financial interest in the outcome of any
decision to be made on
behalf of the University, or having a close relative with a direct or indirect financial interest in the
outcome of any decision to be made on behalf of the University will participate in making that decision,
except to the extent the individual's advice or opinion is requested by others charged with the
responsibility for making such a decision.
Efforts to resolve and ameliorate conflict of interest shall be handled at the lowest
administrative level. In most instances, members of the Michigan Tech community will not need
authorization or approval from their immediate supervisors before engaging in outside professional
activities. Certain cases, however, may require detailed scrutiny and greater care in handling to protect the
rights of all parties.
The University Provost shall designate a Conflict of Interest Coordinator. This individual
shall act in
accord with this conflict of interest policy as well as guidelines established by external granting agencies.
Additionally, a University level review committee may be established on a case-by-case basis to examine
the circumstances and provide direction aimed at insuring the amelioration of inappropriate conflicts of
Violations of University Policy
Michigan Tech has the authority to take action against individuals who violate conflict
of interest policy.
Sanctions, which may include termination, are to be graduated to reflect the seriousness of the violation.
In enforcing this policy it should be recognized that conflicts are not always blatant; they are not always
easily defined in terms of obvious or absolute rights and wrongs. Distinctions must be made between
neglect, honest oversights, or ignorance of procedures on the one hand and willful violations on the other,
especially deliberate failures to disclose interests or relationships that create conflicts of interest.
See Appendix B, "Conflict of Interest Procedures" for more information.
Adopted by Senate: September 13, 1995
Approved by President: November 1, 1995
Approved by Board of Control
Introduced to Senate: 23 March 2011
Adopted by Senate: 06 April 2011
Approved by Administration with Friendly Amendments: 19 April 2011
Senate Approved Friendly Amendments: 20 April 2011
September 2015: Name Change from Board of Control to Board of Trustees