What is a Conflict of Commitment?  "Conflict of commitment" involves a situation in which an employee engages in an outside professional activity, paid or unpaid, that involves a commitment of time that may interfere, or appear to interfere, with fulfillment of the employee's obligations to the University, even if the outside activity is valuable to the University or contributes to the employee's professional development and competence.  

Who does the policy apply to?  The Conflict of Commitment policy applies to all full-time regular UI faculty members, including administrators with faculty appointments. Nothing in these rules shall be construed to require the disclosure of external activities for any period during which a faculty member is not on a University appointment (e.g., activities performed during an unpaid leave of absence, activities during the summer for academic year faculty).

What does the policy require?  This policy requires that all regular full-time faculty members, including administrators with faculty appointments, shall use the following guidelines in determining whether to submit a written disclosure of external activities to their DEO or equivalent in advance of initiating the activity (or whenever the situation changes).

  1. Outside Professional Activities (e.g., consulting with a non-university entity) that take place during a standard "business day" (see definition) shall be disclosed in advance of initiating the work;
  2. Academic Activities shall be disclosed in advance only if the time required to conduct the activity interferes with the performance of assigned duties (e.g., faculty member will miss a class, regular office hours); or
  3. External Activities, which are not related to a faculty member's professional expertise, shall be disclosed in advance of undertaking the activity only if engaging in the activity requires a substantial commitment of time or compromises, or has the appearance of compromising, a faculty member's professional judgment in performing his or her University duties (e.g., teaching, research, business decision making) (see II-18.5 Conflicts of Interest in the Workplace below).

Review by DEO or Equivalent: When an external activity is disclosed, the DEO or equivalent will evaluate the disclosure to determine whether: 1) a conflict of commitment exists and, 2) if yes, whether any further action is needed. The DEO or equivalent shall consider the following questions in the review:

  1. Has the faculty member made satisfactory arrangements to cover all university responsibilities during his or her absence?
  2. Has the faculty member engaged in "outside professional activities" during the current appointment year in excess of nine business days per academic term (i.e., Fall, Spring, Summer)?
  3. Does engaging in the professional activity advance the skills and abilities of the faculty member, with resultant benefit to the employing unit?
  4. Will engaging in the activity be detrimental to the unit or university?
  5. Is the faculty member in good standing and meeting expected standards of performance?
  6. Does the activity present a potential conflict of interest?

When reviewing disclosures it should be acknowledged that much faculty work is conducted outside of the traditional business day and often outside of the office (e.g., course preparation, writing and other forms of research/scholarship). It can be difficult, therefore, to monitor whether the time devoted to external activities conflicts with fulfillment of a faculty member's university commitments. DEOs are encouraged to monitor whether a faculty member is meeting his or her expected performance standards when determining whether a conflict of commitment exists. Annual reviews and five-year peer reviews for tenured faculty may assist in making this determination (see III-10.7 Review of Tenured Faculty Members).


For more information about the Conflicts of Commitment policy, contact:

Lois Geist, Associate Provost for Faculty
Office of the Provost
111 Jessup Hall
Phone:  319.467.4627

For information about addressing potential conflicts of interest in other aspects of the University (e.g., Research, Purchasing, Health Care, Employment, Workplace), please consult with the respective policies and resources listed here: