Conflict of Commitment

0200 Faculty Appointments and Service
Policy Number

Human Resources Manual

Policies, Guidelines and Reference Material
Statutory Authority
  • ORS 351.070

Conflict of Commitment Policy

The University recognizes the contributions and achievements of its faculty members 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. Faculty members are expected to engage in University teaching, research and service activities that advance and communicate knowledge and learning.

There are occasions in which it is advantageous for a faculty member and the University to support the faculty member’s engagement in outside professional and non-professional activities. These activities can be positive and productive contributors to the faculty member’s overall contributions 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 interfere with the successful performance of a faculty member’s University obligations and responsibilities.

This conflict of commitment policy covers conflicts of time commitments between outside professional and non-professional activities and University responsibilities. The conflict of interest policy can be found online here.

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.


Regular Professional Activities are activities considered to be within the regular work duties and obligations of faculty members. They include activities such as: 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; scheduling and maintaining office hours; holding examinations as scheduled; being accessible to students, staff and other faculty members; sharing in service responsibilities through the term of appointment; providing 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 Professional Activities form is not required for such activities.

Outside Professional Activities are those activities that are within a faculty member’s area of professional academic expertise and that advance or communicate that expertise through interaction with industry, the community, or the public. Outside professional activities may be compensated or uncompensated. Examples of such activities include: consulting for additional remuneration (e.g., providing services to individuals or firms, educational programs presented by private firms or independently by faculty members) or engaging in a deeper involvement with commercial enterprises (e.g. ownership in a commercial enterprise, holding a line management position).

Outside professional activities have the potential for both conflicts of commitment and conflicts of interest. Before engaging in outside professional activities in her or his field, a faculty member is to complete and submit the Request for Approval of Outside Professional Activities form to ensure there are no conflicts of commitment. Additionally, faculty members must also complete annually the appropriate Research Office conflicts of interest form(s) to ensure that there are no research conflicts of interest, and must disclose any additional potential financial conflicts of interest to their supervisor.

Outside Non-Professional Activities are defined as activities that are not directly related to a faculty member’s area of professional, academic expertise and that take place outside the University context. Examples of such activities might include: volunteering for a local community event; working part-time delivering newspapers; and nonpartisan public service where the activities are not associated with one’s job and are not carried out during normal working hours.

Application of Conflict of Commitment Policy

Professorial Faculty

The University encourages its professorial faculty members to undertake outside professional 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:

  • the cumulative total of outside professional activities and overload activities does not interfere with the performance of the faculty member's University duties;
  • the outside professional 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;
  • 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;
  • the faculty member does not list her or his 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; and
  • the outside professional activity is consistent with policies of the faculty member's college, school, or division.

Approval or disapproval of a request for permission to engage in outside professional activities is at the sole discretion of the University. With the required approvals, as noted in this policy, a full-time professorial faculty member may engage in outside professional activities related to his or her University responsibilities one day in each workweek during periods of full-time employment. A part-time professorial faculty member is allowed to devote time to such outside professional activities in an amount proportional to 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 members 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.

Outside professional activities are to be approved by the faculty member’s Department Head/Chair/Director and Dean/Vice Provost/Vice President, using the Request for Approval of Outside Professional Activities form prior to the commencement of activities. 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 Commercialization and Corporate Development.

As part of the periodic review of each professorial faculty member, the supervisor shall include an assessment of the faculty member's outside professional activities. The review will include an evaluation of the effect of the outside professional 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 professional activities and may be denied subsequent approval for outside commitments.

Other Academic Ranks and Professional Faculty

Non-professorial faculty may engage in outside professional activities during non-working hours, or when on annual leave, without securing University approval as long as 1) the activities are not associated with or related to the employee’s regular university duties and responsibilities, and 2) the activities do not raise the appearance, or the reality, of a conflict of commitment to the employee’s University obligations. A non-professorial employee who engages in outside professional activities must disclose any potential financial conflicts of interest to his or her supervisor. The use of University name, property, equipment, etc., is not allowed.

Approval Procedures

The faculty member must complete and submit to her/his Department Head/Chair/Director and Dean/Vice Provost/Vice President a Request for Approval of Outside Professional Activities form prior to commencement of the professional activities. If approved, the senior administrator will send the original form to their respective business center HR unit and copies will be sent to the faculty member and Department Chair/Head/Director. A copy will also be placed in the faculty member’s college/division personnel file.

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 Commercialization and Corporate Development.

Appeals Policy

In the event the faculty member is denied the opportunity to engage in outside professional 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 professional 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 professional activities differs greatly among disciplines and departments, a monitoring and reporting method must be developed and maintained by each Dean/Vice Provost/Vice President to ensure appropriate and effective administration of this policy in her or his college/division. Additionally, 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 Academic Affairs will be responsible for obtaining, evaluating, and reporting information regarding University faculty members’ outside professional activities on behalf of the institution.

This policy does not cover outside non-professional activities that 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 Oregon State University, OAR 580-021-0320 et seq.