Policies/Information - Conflict of Interest
Last Revised: 11/16/98
Applies to: All Officers and Employees
To ensure continued confidence of the people of Maine in the University and its personnel, individuals serving the University shall at all times act in a manner consistent with their public responsibilities to the University and shall exercise particular care that no real or perceived detriment to the University results from conflicts between personal interests and those of the University. Conflict of interest situations, or the appearance of conflicts of interest, have the potential to result in serious harm and direct losses to the University. The losses are often difficult to detect and include not only direct monetary losses and loss of confidence in the University, but also negative publicity and erosion of employee morale.
It is the policy of the University that its officers, faculty, staff, and others acting on its behalf have the obligation to avoid ethical, legal, financial, or other conflicts of interest and to ensure that their activities and interests do not conflict with their obligation to the University or to its welfare.
This policy applies to all University officers and employees. The policy also applies to persons affiliated or associated with the University, including members of advisory boards to the University. All provisions, except those relating to the outside employment, apply to persons affiliated with the University. This policy does not apply to the Board of Trustees who are already covered by similar provisions in the Board’s Financial Code of Ethics and State Law.
This policy is to be interpreted and applied in a manner that will best serve the interests of the University and that distinguishes between those minor and inconsequential conflicts which are unavoidable and those conflicts which are substantial and material. A conflict of interest may exist when an employee, a close relative, or a person or organization with whom the employee is associated has an existing or potential financial or other interest which involves the employee’s University responsibilities.
The policy does not prohibit an employee from freely pursuing those teaching, research, and professional and public service activities which will not result in such a conflict, nor prohibit an employee from accepting pay, compensation, fees, honoraria, or reimbursement of expenses which may be offered in connection with such activities.
The following procedures apply except in situations where a procedure is otherwise provided by a collective bargaining agreement. Each campus shall develop its procedure for disclosure and consultation within the following parameters.
If an employee believes that he or she may have a conflict of interest, the employee shall promptly and fully disclose the conflict to the appropriate administrator (Chancellor or President’s designee) and shall refrain from participating in any way in the matter to which the conflict relates until the conflict question has been resolved.
- When it appears that a material conflict may arise between the personal interests of an employee and his or her responsibilities to the University, the employee shall notify the appropriate administrator by submitting a written statement describing the nature of the possible conflict. If an apparent conflict comes to the attention of the administrator, that individual may request a written statement from the employee.
- If an employee is in doubt as to whether he or she is confronted with a potential conflict of interest, the employee should consult with the appropriate administrator to determine if the outside interest could conflict impermissibly with the employee’s obligation to the University.
- There is no conflict and the employee may proceed; or
- There may be a conflict and further consultation is necessary prior to reaching a determination; or
- There is a conflict and the employee shall not proceed with his or her personal interest which result in the conflict. In some cases it may be determined that after full disclosure, the University’s interests are best served by participation of the employee despite the conflict or appearance of conflict.
- The employee may appeal the administrator’s decision to the President (Chancellor for System Office employees).
- The employee must report any significant changes in the outside interest that occur during the year and consult with the appropriate administrator if the undertaking of a new outside interest is considered.
- Any significant violations of this policy shall be reported to the Chancellor for System Office employees and Presidents, to the President of University employees and to the Human Resources and Labor Relations Committee of the Board of Trustees for the Chancellor.
Situations which may constitute a conflict of interest:
- Personal Gain from University Position
- An employee may not use or attempt to use, in a manner contrary to the interests of the University, his or her position or University property or services, to gain or attempt to gain anything for the private benefit of the employee.
- An employee may not solicit or receive gifts or entertainment from suppliers of goods or services, or from persons associated with or seeking association with the University.
- An employee shall not use confidential information acquired in connection with University related activities for personal gain or for other unauthorized purposes.
- Contracting and Leasing
- An employee may not enter into any contract or lease with the University, if the employee is in a position to approve or influence, in his or her official capacity, the University’s decision to enter into the contract or lease, unless such contract is deemed in the best interests of the University and has the approval of the appropriate administrator.
- If the employee is not in a position to approve or influence the University’s decision, the employee may enter into a contract or lease, provided the employee makes prior written disclosure of the nature and extent of any relationship to the appropriate administrator and obtains written approval. The administrator shall approve an employee’s interest in a lease or contract unless the administrator determines that the employee’s personal interest in the agreement will conflict substantially and materially with the employee’s discharge of his or her University responsibilities.
- An employee may not contract with the University to provide a service which is the same as or similar to the service that the employee provides as a University employee. Such services may be provided only as a University employee in the course of University employment.
- Outside Commitment
- Employees are permitted to engage in outside consulting activities and other outside activities provided the employee meets his/her obligation to the University and complies with any applicable provisions of a collective bargaining agreement concerning outside employment.
- An employee shall not accept any other outside position that would impair the employee’s ability to fulfill the employee’s obligation to the University.
- An employee with faculty rank shall not take on a teaching assignment in another post-secondary educational institution during the academic year except after obtaining written approval of the appropriate administrator.
- An employee shall not engage in outside employment or activities which could be viewed as impairing the employee’s judgment in the performance of University duties and responsibilities.
- Use of University Name and Resources
- An employee shall not use the official title of the University or any of its parts, in whatever form that title may appear, except in connection with legitimate University purposes.
- The University’s name, facilities, equipment, stationery, supplies, personnel and other resources are to be used only for the furtherance of the University’s mission. An employee shall not make unauthorized use of any University resources, including the services of University employees, for the personal benefit of the employee.
- Close relatives may be employed in the same or different departments of the University. For purposes of this policy, the term “close relative” shall include significant others in the household.
- The fact that an employee is a close relative of another employee in the same or different department shall not be used as a basis for denying to the employee the rights, privileges or benefits of regular appointment or regular job status. Alternative arrangements for supervisory decisions must be made before employment of a close relative.
- An employee shall not participate in institutional decisions involving a direct benefit to a close relative. Such decisions include, but shall not be limited to, initial appointment, retention, promotion, tenure, salary and leave of absence.
- An employee may not give preferential or favored treatment in the supervision or management of another University employee who is a close relative.
- The University reserves the right to reassign employees or duties when deemed a prudent business or management practice.
- A close family relationship shall not be used as a basis for denying a student the rights, privileges or benefits of access to academic resources.
- An employee shall not participate in institutional academic decisions involving a direct benefit to a close relative. Alternative arrangements for academic decisions must be made for close relatives.
Academic decisions include, but are not limited to, acceptance to an academic program, evaluation of the honors, master or doctoral thesis, and recommendation for awards or employment.