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Conflict of Interest

Conflicts of interest have the potential to threaten the integrity of the university’s research, scholarship, instruction and administrative functions.

Employees are expected to take all reasonable precautions and seek appropriate guidance to ensure that their outside interests do not place them in conflict with carrying out their duties and responsibilities as UT employees. Employees must disclose outside interests in accordance with university policies so that they can be reviewed and managed or eliminated, as appropriate.

The Conflict of Interest (COI) Committee is charged with reviewing complex disclosures and determining whether a management plan is necessary to protect the interests of the individual and the university. Not all conflicting interests are unethical or impermissible. Conflicts can be managed through independent reviewers, reassignment of responsibilities, modifying a research plan or other methods to reduce or minimize the effects of a conflict. An appropriate plan monitor, usually the individual’s supervisor, is appointed to ensure compliance with the plan.

The COI committee is chaired by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration and includes representation from the offices of the Provost, Human Resources, Research & Engagement and Audit & Compliance. The Committee may request a meeting with the disclosing party to obtain additional information in order to determine if a conflict exists. All unresolved conflicts are reported to the Chief Business Officer. The Conflict of Interest Committee is not a policy making body, but can make policy recommendations.

A conflict of interest may occur when a person uses his or her position for personal or professional gain. Conflicts may be associated with financial incentives in research, business ownership, consulting, intellectual property development, outside employment, and commitment to external organizations. Some examples of conflicts include:

  • Accepting gifts or incentives from vendors or organizations through one’s work with the University;
  • A personally or family-owned company benefitting from the relationship to the University;
  • Identifying oneself as an employee of the University in the public promotion or advertising of commercial products without prior written approval.

A conflict of commitment exists when an employee has a relationship that requires a commitment of time or effort to non-University activities, which results in the individual not being able to meet their University obligations. UTK recognizes that external activities congruent with the professional expertise of faculty and consistent with the mission of the affiliated department can enhance professional development of the faculty member and enrich the academic experiences of students. Innovation and entrepreneurial activities such as licensing of technology, consulting, or business start-ups can be critical to promoting economic development, which supports the mission of the University. However, the primary commitment of the faculty member’s time and intellectual energies must be devoted to the education, research/scholarship, and outreach programs of UTK.

The University’s policies and procedures are designed to promote and safeguard the interests, integrity, and reputation of the University and its faculty, staff and students. Please see fiscal policy FI0125 and FI0125-K Conflict of Interest for more information. Concerns regarding non-compliance can be reported directly to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration or anonymously through the UT Compliance Hotline (1-855-461-2771 or uthotline.ethicspoint.com).

 

Conflict of Interest Form and Instructions

Faculty Handbook

Division of Finance & Administration

4th Floor Andy Holt Tower
Knoxville, TN 37996-0141
Phone: 865-974-4204 Fax: 865-974-8131