22.1 Policy

 In addition to their duties as faculty, academic and administrative staff, and the University Officers and other Senior Level Executives(collectively referred to as “employees” in this chapter) of OIST Graduate University (hereinafter “the University”) often serve on external committees, commissions, panels, and boards of directors.  The more entrepreneurial among them engage in private consulting or other business activity.  University employees also support a variety of social, community, and political causes.  Moreover, in the course of their official duties, employees develop relationships with vendors, research sponsors, donors, and others who contribute to or support the University.

It is the policy of the University to encourage all of these endeavors and relationships.  However, care must be taken to ensure that none gives rise to conflicts of commitment or interest. The matters covered in this policy are of great importance to the University.  Each member of the University community has a responsibility to avoid and prevent conflicts of interest and to take steps to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Responsibility for review and ultimate resolution of conflict of interest matters is vested in the Chief Operating Officer (hereinafter “COO); a four-person panel, comprised of University General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer (hereinafter "CCO"), and two faculty members appointed by the Dean of Faculty Affairs (known as the “Conflict of Interest Review Panel”) will assess the facts and report their findings and recommendation to the COO for decision.  As a general rule, conflicts of interest determinations are based on what potential outcomes are made possible by the situation, rather than on the character, intent, or actions of the employee.  However, a finding that an employee willfully ignored or intentionally violated the policies and rules of Chapter 22 requires that the employee be subjected to disciplinary action including significant sanction or possible termination of employment.  See also Misconduct & Whistleblower Protection .

 The following policies (and related rules and procedures) should guide all University employees as they carry out their work at the University. 

 

22.1.1 Conflict of Commitment

Because faculty and other University employees owe a duty of primary commitment to the University and its missions, it is the policy of the University that the external activities and engagements of employees may not demand so much of their time, effort, or attention that their ability to satisfy their obligations to the University is adversely affected. (Chapter 22.8.1)

 

22.1.2 Institutional Conflict of Interest

University research, teaching, outreach, and other activities must not be compromised or be perceived as biased by institutional relationships with external entities. The existence (or appearance) of such conflicts can lead to actual bias, or suspicion about possible bias, in the review or conduct of the University’s business activities.   It is the policy of the University that situations that may give rise to such conflicts be disclosed, evaluated, and discontinued if a conflict interest or commitment is present.  This is necessary to prevent decisions, choices or actions that are incongruent with the missions, obligations, or values of the University. (Chapter 22.8.5)

 

22.1.3 Individual Conflict of Interest

When there is a divergence between an individual's private interests and his or her professional obligations to the University, such that an independent observer might reasonably question whether the individual's professional actions or decisions are determined by considerations of personal gain, financial or otherwise, an Individual Conflict of Interest arises. It is the policy of the University that situations that might create conflicts be disclosed to and evaluated by the appropriate office as soon as they are known.  If an actual or perceived conflict of interest or commitment is found, the relationship or activity must be discontinued. (Chapter 22.8.4)

22.1.3.1  Employing Related Parties
It is the policy of the University to seek for its faculty the best possible teachers and scholars who are judged to be so in an international search preceding each appointment (Chapter 3). Similarly, it is the policy of the University for its academic and administrative staff the best qualified persons for the position through competitive selection process (Chapter 31.3.2 ). There are no bars to the appointment of “related parties” , such as immediate family members, business partners, and close personal friends, to any University position, so long as each meets the relevant standard for appointment. However, no faculty member, or any other University employee shall vote, make recommendations, or in any other way participate in the decision of any matter which may directly affect the appointment, reappointment, tenure (for a faculty member), promotion, salary, or other status or interest of a related party, nor shall he or she supervise a related party.
 
22.1.3.2  Doing Business with Related Parties
University employees must not conduct University business with related parties such as immediate family members, business partners, and close personal friends.  University employees must not conduct University business with an entity in which a related party has a significant interest.  University employees must not lease or purchase, on behalf of the University, real property in which a related party holds an ownership interest.
 
22.1.3.3   Individual Conflict of Interest Concerning Student Admission
Faculty members who involve in student admission may have a conflict of interest. The policy, rules and procedures for such cases are provided by the Chapter 5, Graduate School Handbook.

 

22.1.4 Consulting and Other Business, Commercial or Financial Relationships

The University believes that it is good and useful for faculty and other professional employees to deploy their expertise through entrepreneurial activity, such as providing consulting or other services to individuals, business entities, other universities, and the community.  However, employees must be alert to the fact that implicit in activities of a commercial nature are conflicts of interest arising from access to confidential information (the University’s and the commercial entity’s) and the possible ability to influence pertinent decisions of either entity. It is the policy of the University that such situations be disclosed to and evaluated by the appropriate office as soon as they are known.  If an actual or perceived conflict of interest or commitment is found, the relationship or activity must be discontinued.

22.1.4.1  Employees may not engage in any outside business if it interferes with their responsibilities to the University.  Faculty are generally granted leave to pursue such outside work (Chapter 3).  Other employees are required to pursue such work outside their normal working hours or by using accrued leave/vacation (Chapter 33 ) with prior approval in accordance with OIST Rules for External Professional Activities.

 

22.1.5 External Professional Activities

It is the policy of the University to encourage its employees to contribute to society at large by serving on committees, commissions, advisory boards, boards of directors, task forces and other similar associations. It is also the policy of the University to require disclosure of, and to review, all such external engagements in order to detect and avoid potential conflicts of commitment or interest and other similar concerns, including the involvement of University resources in otherwise personal activities. 

 

22.1.6 Political Activity

Although the University encourages its employees at all levels to participate in the full spectrum of permissible political activities, both locally and nationally, it is University policy that no University endorsement may be implied or asserted by its employees when so doing (Chapter 15 ).  Similarly, it is the policy of the University to forbid use of University resources, including their paid work time or the paid work time of other University employees, to support personal political activity (Chapter 21).  Attention must be given also to the Policy on Conflict of Commitment to ensure that outside political activity does not demand so much of an employee’s time, effort, or attention that their ability to satisfy their obligations to the University is adversely affected.

22.1.6.1  Permissible Political Activities
Campaigning for Public Office.  Although prior approval is not required, it is the policy of the University that its employees contemplating candidacy for elective political office or appointment to public office should contact their responsible administrator/supervisor to discuss potential conflicts and work impact.
 
22.1.6.2  Prohibited & Restricted Political Activities
It is the policy of the University that its employees do not influence inappropriately any decisions by national and local government officials, and that its employees refrain from conduct creating even an appearance of trying to influence inappropriately any decisions by national and local government officials.

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