Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Conflict of Commitment and Conflict of Interest

faculty handbook

Conflict of Commitment

As resources for the outside world, Boston College faculty are sought after nationally and internationally to share their scholarly expertise. While these external activities disseminate knowledge and often benefit the University as well as the public, conflict of commitment occurs when a faculty member’s commitment to external activities adversely affects his/her capacity to meet University responsibilities.

It is the policy of the University that all faculty members will devote their primary professional time and energy to their teaching, research and other scholarly works, service on University committees and to professional associations, assistance for students, performance of necessary school and departmental administrative duties, and where applicable, patient care. Although a specific work-week is not defined for faculty members, it is expected that such membership constitutes a full-time obligation during the academic year.

Professional external activities conducted by a faculty member should improve effectiveness as a teacher or contributor to scholarly attainments, or should in some manner serve the interests of the University or of the University community. External activities must not distract significantly from a faculty member’s primary responsibilities and must not require such extensive absence as to cause the faculty member to neglect course obligations or to become unavailable to students and colleagues. External activities must not compromise any intellectual property owned by the University.

Teaching for another institution requires prior written approval of the Provost. In accordance with the University Statutes, professional service outside the University shall not exceed the equivalent of one day per week, and any work of a continuing or regular nature, whether compensated or not, must be approved annually by the Provost.


Conflict of Interest

A research university promotes the public good by fostering the transfer of knowledge gained through university research and scholarship to the private sector. A conflict of interest exists in any situation in which a faculty member has an outside interest that might affect, or appear to affect, his or her judgment in carrying out University responsibilities. Examples are:

1. A faculty member, or a member of his or her family, having an interest in, or serving as an officer, director, or consultant to, or being otherwise employed by, any organization or company having or seeking to have financial dealings with the University, or having an interest in any organization that is in direct competition with a service provided by the University.

2. A faculty member, a member of his or her family, or an organization in which that faculty or family member that has a significant ownership interest (i.e., five percent or more of the stock in a corporation, five percent or more interest in the profits of a partnership, or a beneficial interest of five percent or more in any other enterprise); management function (e.g., trustee, director, general manager, partner, principal officer, employee, or agent); or other material interest, receiving a financial or other benefit from knowledge or information confidential or proprietary to the University.

3. Influencing or participating in negotiations, or entering into a contract, to purchase goods and/or services for the University from an organization in which the faculty member, or a member of his or her family, has a financial interest or a consulting or other relationship.

4. The use for personal financial gain of privileged information emanating from University research or other confidential University information, or assisting an outside organization in obtaining a preferred position with respect to such information.

5. Acceptance of gratuities, gifts, or travel or more than nominal value (in excess of $100.00) to an individual or a group from suppliers of goods and/or services to the University, or from others seeking information from, or association with, the University.

Most conflicts of interest do not necessarily imply wrongdoing, but must be recognized and managed. However, the use of University resources (equipment, space, staff or student time) or the University name for personal gain is always prohibited.

Certain activities are generally not to be construed as conflicts of interest, and need not be reported:

1. Receiving royalties for published scholarly works and other writings (over the amount of any University-provided subvention);

2. Accepting honoraria for papers and lectures;

3. Accepting prizes and awards for professional achievement.


Reporting Conflicts of Commitment and Interest

All faculty members are required to disclose to the University, as they arise or at least annually, all potential conflicts of interest or commitment. Those faculty engaged in sponsored projects must disclose potential conflicts at the time of the grant proposal or issuance of the subcontract; see the Policy on Conflicts of Interest Pertaining to Sponsored Projects at

Department chairs and/or deans should review and discuss reported conflicts of commitment and interest with faculty each year; reported conflicts and their resolution should then be reviewed by the dean when the initial review was conducted by a department chair, and by the Vice Provost for Faculties when the initial review was conducted by a dean. Conflicts of commitment must be eliminated; conflicts of interest must be managed or avoided. If agreement between the faculty member, department chair, dean and/or Vice Provost on the resolution of a reported conflict cannot be reached, the faculty member may seek review and decision by the Provost.